Last week, I went skiing with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. We talked about all sorts of industry topics, but eventually the conversation drifted to the metaverse. My friend is pretty plugged into the metaverse and its potential. And, he had a bold prediction that, quite frankly, surprised me:
The metaverse will be mainstream in 3 years.
I was skeptical. I am not naive enough to think the metaverse will one day become a big part of our new reality. But 3 years? That seemed awfully fast.
However, no matter what timeline we’re looking at, there’s no denying the fact that the metaverse is looming–and many brands are jumping in quickly. Miller Lite created a virtual bar for the Big Game called Decentraland for the Super Bowl. Meta created the first Big Game ad you can actually walk around it with a VR headset. And, there were more than a few commercials during the Big Game pumping metaverse brands and companies.
Long story short: It was high time I dove in and got me hands dirty with the metaverse. After all, for me, the best way to learn about something new in our industry has always been to get in and play around with it!
So, I set out to do a few relatively simple things on Super Bowl Sunday that would allow me to get my feet wet in the metaverse, but also start to build a presence out there:
1 – Got set up with crypto
I chose to go with Bitcoin. And, I started very small–purchasing just $25 worth. The process to get set up was quite easy. And, for now, I’m just using the $25 to purchase some NFTs (see below). This was, by far, the easiest of my tasks to complete. And, it’s already up $4!
2 – Bought my first NFT
However, it didn’t go to plan. My idea was simple (I thought): Buy some crypto and use it to buy the NFT on NBA’s TopShot. However, TopShot only takes Ethereum (didn’t know that)–not Bitcoin. So, I ended up just buying it the “old fashioned” way with my credit card. $2.41 for a Jarred Vanderbilt dunk! Awesome! However, I’m still in process of trying to figure out what I do with that NFT now. All part of the learning process, I guess. For now, it’s fun to sort through the NBA highlights on TopShot. Down the road, I look forward to exploring brand NFTs a bit more.
3 – Played a virtual and social game in the metaverse
Since Roblox had launched NFL Tycoon, I thought I’d give that a try. I’d never played Roblox before. When I asked my kids (14 and 17) if I should play it, I got a resounding “no!”. I decided to give it a shot anyway. It was a steep learning curve for a first-timer. I guess you’re supposed to build stuff in Roblox, but I couldn’t really figure out how to do that. I ended up just running around the virtual worlds and opening a few card packs. I left fully understanding why my kids warned me not to even try it.
4 – Play around with brand activations in the Metaverse
My choices: Meta’s Questy and Miller Lite’s Decentraland. I used my son’s Oculus Quest 2 to get in. I’ve used this a few times to play games like Beat Saber with him, but nothing like this. The process of getting used to and set up with Quest is a little painful. For example, when using Horizons Venues, there are multiple steps just to learn how to use the tech before you even get into the worlds. And, once you’re there, it’s not super intuitive. For example, I struggled to figure out how to get out of the world once I was in! And, I can’t say the “brand experiences” were all that impressive. But, at this point, this is all about experimentation for these brands. And I give them big points for pushing the envelope and trying. We’re in early days here, folks. This isn’t going to be A+ out of the gate (I’d say it’s about a D+ right now).
5 – Attend my first concert in the Metaverse – Foo Fighters!
This was the piece I was actually the most excited for. I mean, a VR Foo Fighters concert sounds OK (and I’m not even a huge fan). Again, the process of getting into the concert was clunky. In fact, I couldn’t even get in after the game on Sunday–and apparently, I wasn’t alone. The experience drew the ire of many on Twitter who, like me, couldn’t get in to the concert after the game. But, I got in Monday and watched it on replay. If you haven’t tried one of these concert experiences in VR, it’s worth 10-15 minutes of your time. It’s pretty immersive. But, with the Oculus Quest headset, I can’t help but think of accessibility issues. I know it’s early days, but these things cost $300-400 a piece. So, there’s one hurdle (financial). Then, there’s the tech hurdle–again, not super intuitive and requires a lot of prep and tutorials. I’m thinking about older folks here–won’t they get quickly frustrated and give up? I feel like the experience of VR needs to be optimized a bit before we can take things to the next level. But overall, I’m excited about VR–I’ve already used it many times in other non-entertainment instances (i.e., researching ski destinations like Whistler, which was outstanding).
Overall, here’s what I learned:
1 – The Metaverse is new and clunky (for now). Doing any of the things I listed above are not easy for the average person. I don’t consider myself a tech nerd, but I’m also not a luddite. And, most of those things above were on the “hard” side to accomplish (at the very least, time consuming). It’s early days, for sure. But all of this needs to get a lot easier before most people will try it.
2 – Get ready to be disappointed. Exactly zero of the experiences above exceeded my expectations. I’m still trying to understand the NFTs. Roblox was a complete waste of time (for me, I know kids love it). And the concert was underwhelming at best (extremely frustrating, if I’m honest). So again, early days. Don’t expect a lot.
3 – Experimentation over all else. Right now, it’s all about trying new things for brands (the NFL with Roblox and attracting a younger audience). And I think that’s a good thing because it feels an awful lot like 2008 right now. You have a lot of people out there saying “there’s no way this goes mainstream. It’s too hard. Too confusing.” And right now, they’d be right! However, we’re just getting started with this stuff–just like social was just getting started in 2008. I remember people saying the same thing! Twitter is just a fad. I don’t care what you’re eating for lunch! Isn’t that what we all heard for a while. Feels like the same thing now. Let’s let this breathe a bit. Big companies are sinking millions of dollars into this. Let’s see where it goes. And experiment along the way.