Heineken Silver's metaverse launch was a sobering experience - MrLiambi's blog


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Thursday 17 March 2022

Heineken Silver's metaverse launch was a sobering experience

You can fairly easily imagine the meetings going on around the world right now that lead to metaverse product launches - the consensus that there's a wave cresting right now, and that any brand not riding it is being short-sighted.

You can imagine, too, the well-intentioned marketing executives conceding that there's something engaging and mysterious about the prospect of a virtual launch, and agreeing that cryptocurrencies are pretty mainstream now, so the metaverse might very well follow suit.

It's pretty straightforward to also visualise them as they try out the virtual environment they commissioned at great expense for the first time, a few days before the press or public are let into it, and realise that they've spent what we can only presume must be thousands of their local currency on an absolute turkey.

We're assuming the dominant feeling would be embarrassment, and not without reason. For example, taking a tour today of the two-storey virtual plaza that Heineken has built to launch a new low-alcohol beer, it's hard to see why any company would have spent money on this.

Decentraland is the host service, the most well-known metaverse portal, one that's played host to underwhelming raves, underwhelming parties and underwhelming just about everything else in the last few months, and it's accessed through a browser.

If that sounds simple, it should be, but in reality it means a multi-stage process of swapping between browsers to get the right compatibility, a fiddly avatar design process, and then an environment that runs at frame rates no commercial game would get away with.

Walking around the outside of Heineken's venue we're greeted by other janky avatars, and everyone huddled around a bouncer who is meant to ask our age before we can go in, likely due to the rules around advertising alcohol.

For us, it doesn't work until we restart our browser a fourth time, at which point the event has already started and we're rushing to catch up. Inside, we hear about the new beer (it's a beer) while walking between exhibits that could be charmingly low-poly only if viewed through the most ridiculously charitable lens.

The whole experience is just straightforwardly bad - it doesn't feel good to move around it, it doesn't look good in the slightest, and nothing about it trumps a simple video presentation or ad spot.

We're also convinced someone at Heineken got cold feet at some point in the process of making all this, and decided to undercut it all by placing non-player characters around to spew deliberately ironic lines like the monstrosity below.

It's a textbook example of trying to have your cake and eat it - you can't spend big money on a naff metaverse launch and then pretend you know it's naff, Heineken! That just isn't something you're allowed to do.

There will be a real, in-person launch event for the beer Heineken's releasing in a few weeks, and it'll probably be more traditional - so there's clearly some awareness that the old ways might be better.

Of course, the current conceptualisation of the metaverse and the reality of services like Decentraland underlines just how far we are from any sort of genuinely rewarding offering. Whether it's a second-rate version of Second Life, or VR meeting rooms that require you to keep sweaty headsets on for hours, it's plain to see that we're just not at the point where it can be manifested properly.

At this point it feels like the bolder approach for a brand is to cut the nonsense and steer clear of such indulgences, contrary to their instincts, and we can only hope that some continue to do so. If we have to talk to another virtual bouncer to gain access to a level that most kids could churn out of Roblox in an hour again, our patience might start to wear thin.

Source : https://www.pocket-lint.com/ar-vr/news/160444-heineken-silver-metaverse-launch-decentraland-report

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