OPINION

Meta bashing is the new cool thing – and totally off the mark

Meta bashing is the new cool thing – and totally off the mark

Meta tries something radically new and is ridiculed by the big players in the industry. But the ridicule is unfounded.

The company’s name has changed. What hasn’t changed is the disdain it faces: Facebook, now Meta, is still the most hated company in the world, and mocking it is still in vogue.

The latest example is the former president of Nintendo America, Reggie Fils-Aimé. On stage at SXSW, he was asked what he thought of Meta’s Metaverse vision. Fils-Aimé didn’t miss the chance and launched into an all-out attack on Meta.

Meta is driving innovation

The company has always bought innovation, but has never been innovative itself, finds Fils-Aimé: a saying you hear again and again and which earned him applause in the audience.

The fact that Meta is preparing to establish a completely new interface and break up decades-old gaming habits is not acknowledged by Fils-Aimé with a single word.

You may think what you want about Meta. To accuse the company of a lack of innovation is out of place. Mark Zuckerberg is betting radically on unproven technologies like VR and AR, and his company is doing valuable pioneering work in fields that open up wholly new possibilities.

It’s more innovative, bolder and far-sighted than anything Nintendo and other long-established industry giants have ever attempted. Of course, gaming veterans like Fils-Aimé see things differently and react defensively: VR and AR challenge established paradigms.

VR is bad, AR is good? Someone did not understand the concept of mixed reality

Another widespread cliché that Fils-Aimé serves up in the conversation is that Meta aspires to replace life with virtual reality. He contrasts this dystopian vision with augmented reality, which only enriches life and whose potential he therefore sees sooner.

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What Fils-Aimé deliberately or out of ignorance omits: We are not dealing with an either-or here. The separation between VR and AR is artificial, and the current boundary will be blurred in the next few years by devices that cover the entire mixed reality spectrum. Virtual reality and augmented reality: They will be modes of one and the same thing.

Fils-Aimé is hitting the same notch as his Niantic colleague John Hanke, who first insinuates VR dystopias to Meta in order to discredit the company in the next step. This is pure polemic.

A gaming giant mocks the up-and-coming generation

Not wrong, but condescending is Fils-Aimé’s statement about the status quo of the VR industry: under his leadership, Nintendo would have sold as much hardware in a good year as the entire VR industry has so far.

An unfair comparison, considering Nintendo has been in the console business for nearly forty years. VR gaming started from scratch six years ago. The gaming industry took decades to arrive in the middle of society and gain the importance it has today. Why should it be any different with virtual reality, whose hardware and gaming vocabulary is still in its infancy?

By Fils-Aimé’s own admission, he’s tried nearly every VR experience out there, and none convinced him that virtual reality is ready for the spotlight. That’s a blatant devaluation of the accomplishments of those people who, in recent years, have developed novel, moving, creative VR game concepts that wouldn’t be feasible with traditional gaming media.

You can find the video with Reggie Fils-Aimé’s statements at Bloomberg.

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