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Facebook’s Metaverse vision questioned by gaming veteran Fils-Aime

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms Inc. is among the most vocal proponents of the future of the metaverse, but one gaming industry veteran is particularly skeptical about its vision.

“Like the cloud five years ago and even the internet of 20 years past, every business is now trying to latch onto the metaverse,” said former Nintendo of America Inc. President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime.

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Instead of Facebook’s parent, the digital future will be driven by smaller companies that are really innovating, while companies like Epic Games Inc. are doing “really compelling things,” he said.

“Facebook itself is not an innovative company,” Fils-Aime told Emily Chang at the South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. “They have either acquired interesting things like Oculus and Instagram, or they’ve been a fast follower of people’s ideas. I don’t think their current definition will be successful.”

A representative for Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The rise of innovative, smaller firms that are currently in seed or funding rounds also suggests that more consolidation is in store for the industry. Fils-Aime pointed to successful acquisitions like Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s purchase of Zynga Inc. and called Microsoft Corp.’s recent bid for Activision Blizzard Inc. “a fantastic purchase.”

‘Regginator’

Fils-Aime is a long-time gaming executive whose Haitian parents fled the Duvalier regime in Haiti and settled in New York. His new book ‘From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo’ talks about his upbringing, path to Nintendo, and why he got the nickname, the “Regginator.’

As a Black executive who rose through the ranks of a storied Japanese company, he criticized the gaming industry for not moving fast enough to address its diversity challenges.

“This is a global industry touching 3 billion people across the world; it’s a $200 billion business,” Fils-Aime said. “The representation in the game and in leadership is not at all where it needs to be.”

Fils-Aime, who joined GameStop Corp. in 2020 and was on the board for a year, criticized the company, saying that current management, led by former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen, had rebuffed his ideas. He had, at the time, believed the company could be successful and with the right action and pivot to e-commerce, could better satisfy its customer base.

“There has not been an articulated strategy. Leadership says we don’t want to articulate our strategy because they don’t want it to be stolen,” he said. “To me that was not acceptable. Fils-Aime is no longer a shareholder in GameStop, though he wouldn’t disclose when he sold his stock.”

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