The metaverse became a major buzzword after Facebook (now Meta) unveiled its vision in October, and now gaming and tech giants alike are weighing in on the potential for the future internet. The latest is Nintendo, the Japanese gaming giant and console maker, with President Shuntaro Furukawa suggesting that the metaverse has “great potential” ahead.
Furukawa commented on the metaverse during an investors Q&A session this week. According to translations of an official transcript released earlier today, Furukawa spoke about the potential of the metaverse, as well as comparisons that have been made to Nintendo’s popular Animal Crossing life simulation games.
“The metaverse is attracting the attention of many companies around the world, and we believe that it has great potential,” per an English translation from VGC. “In addition, when the metaverse is mentioned in the media, software such as Animal Crossing is sometimes cited as an example, and in this sense, we are interested in it.”
The metaverse refers to a more immersive future vision for the internet, in which users socialize, play, and even work together in shared 3D spaces. It may be powered by blockchain technology, including NFT assets, with Ethereum-based games like Decentraland and The Sandbox—both of which sell users digital land plots—setting an early example for the space.
However, there’s some dispute over exactly what the term “metaverse” encompasses. To some, it simply means immersive shared experiences via virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) headsets, while others see NFTs—assets that demonstrate ownserhip of digital items—as the most important pillar of its design. It’s a nebulous buzzword, in part because a functional, polished metaverse is potentially years away.
In any case, while Furukawa appears to be positive on the potential of the metaverse, he said that Nintendo isn’t ready to start exploring the possibilities. The maker of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and other massively successful game franchises isn’t known to chase trends, and Furukawa said that Nintendo needs to figure out its own approach to the metaverse.
“It is not easy to define what kind of surprise and fun the metaverse can provide to customers,” Furukawa said. “As a company that proposes entertainment, we have to think about how to provide fresh surprises and fun.”
“If we can find a way to communicate our ‘Nintendo approach’ to many people in an easy-to-understand manner, we may be able to consider something,” he continued, “but we do not believe that this is the case at this time.”
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In January, key Nintendo competitor Microsoft announced that it would acquire major game publisher Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion, and framed the move as providing “building blocks for the metaverse.” Also in January, Grand Theft Auto maker Take-Two Interactive acquired mobile and NFT game maker Zynga, with CEO Strauss Zelnick noting “Web3opportunities” that the company sees ahead.
Many traditional game publishers are experimenting in the NFT space, including Ubisoft with in-game NFT items minted on Tezos, Konami selling NFT collectibles based on its classic games, and Square Enix revealing plans for NFT-driven games.
However, these announcements and others have widely been met with backlash, with many gamers criticizing NFTs for their environmental impact—which varies widely based on blockchain platform—or calling them a grift or scam.
GSC Game World canceled plans to add NFTs to its S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 game in December following blowback, and then just this week, Team17 did much the same with NFT collectibles based on the Worms franchise.
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