Naoki Yoshida, director of the incredibly popular online RPG Final Fantasy 14, has taken a hard stance against the metaverse, stating these worlds are not entertainment when they simply reflect the real world. In a new interview with Weekly Bunshun, shared by ryokutya and Siliconera, Yoshida was asked to compare Final Fantasy 14 with the modern metaverse – and strongly disagreed that the concepts were similar.
‘To me, I see the Metaverse as “a system that replaces reality with a virtual world.” So I don’t think the Metaverse has anything in common with entertainment,’ Yoshida said.
‘In the Metaverse I’m thinking of, people will be able to use an avatar in virtual reality, and take a stroll in Shinjuku or do shopping, just like in real life. Though it might be fun, there’s no entertainment there. “What’s so interesting about the systems of our real world?” is how I feel.’
To Yoshida, the key point of difference is in the fantasy and entertainment aspects of Final Fantasy XIV, which seek to transport players to a new world filled with gorgeous sights and activities they may not encounter in the real world. Without that element of novelty and awe, Yoshida believes the metaverse does not align with the values of entertainment at all.
He later clarified he would prefer to make something entertaining within the world of virtual reality – but not within a metaverse, given its lack of entertainment value.
The distinction here is very intriguing, given many metaverse worlds seem to be designed as imitations of MMORPGs like Final Fantasy 14. While they feature some of the key elements of these worlds: an online space where players can interact, many lack the fun and excitement of traditional video games. To Yoshida, this distinction is overtly clear, and can be seen in the current interpretations of the metaverse.
In many cases, these worlds appear to be the products of investment firms ‘discovering’ the power of video games for the first time, without considering the decades of innovation, graphical enhancements, and capabilities that have developed in this arena since gaming history began. In focusing on adhering to trends or on making money, the heart of the experience is lost.
While Yoshida’s comments are accurate and insightful, they come at a peculiar time for Square Enix – which has recently divulged itself of its Western game studios in an effort to dive deeper into ‘blockchain, AI, and the cloud’. These concepts are not directly related to the metaverse, however many metaverse projects make use of the blockchain to preserve user ownership of digital goods.
At this stage, the plans for the company are unclear – but should it decide to pursue metaverse-style ambitions, we know there’ll be at least one voice in opposition.