Five things on Friday #339
Things of note for the week ending Friday October 14th, 2022.
Funny story. The above image turned ten years old last week and I only know this because not only is it one of easily several hundred photos I still have on my old/dormant Flickr account (remember them?), all licensed under creative commons but it’s also the one that always seems to pop up when you least expect it.
Turns out if you tag decent/free photos with the words ‘Facepalm’ and ‘hungover’ then they’ll start to turn up in all sorts of places.
And it never fails to make me laugh.
Hell, maybe in about 100yrs from now, you’ll be strolling through the internet, and this face will be on posters outside digital pharmacies, trying to sell you hangover cures in the metaverse.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. ….breathe… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Anyway, how have you beeeeeen?
I hope you’re enjoying the crisp, cold sunny mornings. I am an autumn baby and I love this time of year. The browns come out from the cupboard. The coats go on… I think I might even treat myself to a new scarf.
We’ve got a packed FTOF for you this week and as I gaze ahead to the coming weeks, please excuse me if the newsletter takes a short break here and there. Work is about to get very busy and what with half-term around the corner, I can already sense the time disappearing into the long nights ahead.
But hey, let’s not worry about that quite yet…
— AD BREAK —
This is your last chance to buy you, or your team, tickets to the Sweathead Do Together strategy conference next week. I saw a cheeky preview of the content this week and it looks AMAZING. So if you can get along - or if you’ve got a bit of training budget left over for your strategy team - then it’d be great to see you.
— AD BREAK —
…for now, why not slip into something more comfortable, grab a cup of something warm, and join me as we explore THE THINGS together.
1. SO HERE WE ARE AGAIN, TALKING ABOUT ‘THE METAVERSE’
A section of two parts this week.
First, we’re looking at Decentraland and the case of the missing users - then we’re looking at the announcements from the Meta Connect event earlier in week and what that means for you/brands (clue: the square root of eff all).
Let’s do this.
Part 1: How do you solve a problem like Decentraland’s DAUs?
Since last week’s absurd Argos activation in ‘the metaverse’ (see thing one, #338), there has been a fair amount of discussion on what Decentraland’s actual user numbers are.
So I’ve been digging.
First of all, let’s address the major headline that’s been doing the rounds:
‘Decentraland has just 30 daily active users despite billion dollar market cap’
This is categorically untrue.
I know this because there are at least three different ways you can check Decentraland user numbers. Which, well, if you had a basic grasp of any media channel you’d hope you’d know how to do this (looking at you, ARGOS).
You can log on to Decentraland right now (doesn’t work on mobile - yes, I know) and see a couple of hundred people playing all playing poker together.
You can log on to Decentraland’s live tracker (as reported in FToF #333) right now and see how many people are ‘playing’. At 21:45 BST on Oct 13th, that’s:
You can log on to DCL Metrics (a platform built to make Decentraland’s data accessible) right now and look at the 7, 14, 30, and 90 day user numbers.
That looks like this:
One thing I don’t recommend doing is asking Decentraland itself because you’re likely to end up in a circular conversation with its Marketing Director which ended in a lot of them saying ‘DYOR’ - aka, do your own research (I would argue asking the marketing director of the platform would qualify as DYOR but hey, you do you).
The good news is, all the
bad headlines have prompted Decentraland to publish its own numbers! Hooray!
6,3915 Wearables and 1732 emotes sold in the marketplace.
(Kotaku disagrees with their 8k number and I think I might too, given the methodology).
OK! Crystal clear then! RIGHT?!
I guess it doesn’t matter.
Whether the number is 30, 32, 300, 523, 1866, or 8000 daily active users (globally, btw - these users aren’t split by country, Argos), they’re still split across several thousand land parcels and the consumer penetration is so tiny… it is abundantly clear this platform simply IS NOT ready for brands.
And anybody who tells you otherwise is an idiot.
I asked my friend Matt to join me in Decentraland to see how easy it was to meet. We normally play Destiny 2 together so this was… er.. different?
Point is, it was the busiest I’d seen it and the chat (see bottom left) was horny as hell - in the plaza, not between me and Matt. Grim.
Aaaaand I’m out.
Onwards. To part two.
Part 2: What did Facebook announce at Meta Connect (and what that means for you/brands)
Did you miss Meta Connect?
FB/Meta’s big event about how not only are they building the bridge to the metaverse - with technology and partnerships and software and developer tools - but also introducing LEGS?
‘aRe YoU eXcItEd?’
NEWSFLASH: THE LEGS WERE A LIE!
‘Meta has issued a follow-up statement, which says “To enable this preview of what’s to come, the segment featured animations created from motion capture.”
(you can retweet this)
After all that! The legs were a lie! Absolutely incredible.
Before we properly get going, let’s take a moment and pour one out for the agency reps at FB/Meta who have undoubtedly already been tasked with trying to sell this thing to literally any
mug brand that will listen.
It’s not their fault, they have bills to pay, and virtual mouths to feed. Maybe ask them to blink twice if they need help? Which they’ll be able to do with the shiny new headset!
Keep an eye on the trades now as well. Who will stare back and do nothing and who will be first to wade into the dead-eyed swamp of the brands-in-the-metaverse bandwagon?
Here, have some tweets:
One more? Ok, one more.
All the easy jokes ($1499?! 1-2hrs battery life?!) and obvious notes aside, the key take out of this section is that I strongly recommend you make time for is this excellent hour-long YouTube interview with Zuckers himself, via The Verge.
I listened to it earlier in the week and made the following scatter of notes and quotes with additional fresh commentary from me in bold.
Watch and read along, or just read. I don’t mind.
He is visibly amused by ‘chief metaverse officers’ - lol, brilliant.
‘This is year one’ - noted.
‘Nothing meaningful until year three’ Remember this when you’re being upsold ‘tHe mEtAvErSe’ from your agencies and platform reps.
He wants the 200m PC users buying this instead.
Expect ‘version five later this decade’ (it is 2022!)
‘The primary value is presence’ - I really like this as a KSP. And the more I hear about virtual worlds generally, this sense of ‘presence’ is important. Gamers have had this for decades, obviously, but I guess MZ thinks that some people just want to use Excel next to each other.
When probed about Apple’s next move, it made him visibly uncomfortable - he didn’t have an answer. 'We'll see'.
'We don't share numbers until they're a lot bigger' - Zuck actually said this. This was the one thing I wanted to get out of Meta Connect and it wasn’t forthcoming. Again, one to bank. If Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think the numbers are big enough then I’m pretty sure that the metaverse brand experience for frozen chips you’ve got planning can get in the bin as well.
‘Who is this for?’ the Verge asked. ‘Prosumer (people that want the best VR device (demonstrably untrue, hi PSVR2). And people that want a device for productivity.’ What?! Productivity. This thing has 1-2hrs of battery life.
‘We believe the metaverse will be the successor of the mobile internet’ - ugh. Does the Meta Quest Pro pass the busy mum test? I bet it doesn’t.
‘Use cases are entertainment fitness social. Computer users however, they need a $2k workstation. The pro line. VR as their primary workstation. It also makes it a test bed (read devkit) for the consumer line. We will see tech from the Pro line eventually make its way into the consumer line.’ - you’re buying v1. Rule 1: never buy v1.
‘This is not hardware that will make profit. Our ambition is to make money on software and services.’ - Oh wait, the hardware is sold at a profit - but it won’t recoup the R&D. I see.
The whole section on open vs closed is a joke. Earlier on in his keynote he made it clear he wanted developers to use his avatar devkits. Remind me, when was the last time you saw an embedded Instagram image on Twitter?
‘In every computing generation pc, mobile, open v close, windows v Mac, android v iOS. Apple is closed - open needs to win out’ A smart metaphor but What this neglects to mention is the hardware failures along the way. Nokia and Blackberry were the original innovators and where are they now…
But what if Apple doesn’t let Facebook on its rumoured headset? - great question.
Last thing on this. About 32mins in, shortly after the whole open v closed piece, Mark is challenged about what he does and doesn’t know about Apple’s connected strategy.
And he does something super weird: he uses the word documents.
‘It’s really hard to know what documents or conversations they have over there that connect or don’t the different parts of the strategy…’.
Interesting word. The only time that word is used in the whole hour and it was entirely unprompted. For some reason it really stood out. Like, ‘do you know anything?’ (brain: dont-think-about-the-documents-dont-think-about-the-documents)… ‘It’s hard to know what documents they have over there…’
I wonder if he’s seen something…
Anyway, it’s genuinely a great interview and definitely worth your time.
Metaverse Quick Bites:
PlayStation Home in 2007 (vs Accenture in 2022)
If there is one story coming out of Meta Connect, it’s how much money it seems to be making its developers.
Armani launched a game in Fortnite (nearly made it without using the M word).
Improbable CEO doesn’t think Facebook should build the metaverse. Ya think?
Accenture, but in 1993 (aka CyberZone).
‘94% of Marketers believe in the Metaverse’ (and only 15% of consumers said they’re currently involved with the metaverse). Standard delusional marketer vs usual consumer disparity! Unsurprisingly, no metaverse definition was offered as part of the results.
The Vogue ‘Meta Ocean’ is such an obscene waste of time and money and I’m stunned it ever made it out of PowerPoint phase. Matt Muir nailed it.
To its credit, the tech FB displayed at Meta Connect had some standout elements. But will it be enough to get over the reputational baggage it carries?
Meta’s flagship app is so bad even its own devs won’t use it.
Finally, spare a thought for a dear creative friend who, after arguing on the phone with a colleague about ‘the metaverse’ this week, was asked by his wife if ‘people trying to get their clients to be in the metaverse is the equivalent of getting an email from a Nigerian Prince saying he'll make you rich if you could just send him some money to unlock his kingdom’.
2. THE LAST WORD, WITH ANGELA LANSBURY
‘The New York Times sat down with Angela Lansbury in 2010 to discuss her life and accomplishments on the stage and screen. She spoke with us with the understanding the interview would be published only after her death.’
I grew up watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks so this one means something to me. In a weird way, an ever present nanny who I knew but never met.
This is lovely and really quite moving.
The last word, with Angela Lansbury.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
I finally started Cyberpunk!
After finishing the frankly superb Netflix produced ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’ (I really can’t recommend this show enough. It’s anime and it’s a touch ultra-violent in places, in the way that anime can be, but it really is excellent and I’m glad I watched it before playing the game as it gives great colour to early game stuff right off the bat), I finally opened up the sealed PS4 disc I’d had since the game launched in December 2020.
And so far… it’s really good!
Best tip that I had was ‘Don’t play it like an FPS, play it like an RPG.’ - and I am. And I’m enjoying it. So if you’ve not played it and were waiting it out, give the show a go then spin up the game. See you in Night City, Choomba.
Outside of that, I FINALLY FINISHED ROLLER DROME. What a game. Please play it, it’s so good. SO GOOD.
Other gaming things of note:
My gorgeous lot, Diva, are sending a small contingent out to Singapore next week for Gamescom Asia. I know I’ve got a handful of you that are either a) based there or b) travelling there - so if that’s you, please hit reply and I’ll connect you with the gang :)
There is ANOTHER No Man’s Sky update! (and now available on Switch - madness)
This 30th anniversary Mortal Kombat video is SUPERB (thanks Tom).
You’ve been able to play Xbox in VR since 2015 (but FULL RESPECT to Satya for getting a Game Pass / Cloud Gaming ad squeezed into his section at Meta Connect - you miss every shot you don’t take!).
Bungie celebrated National Coming Out Day by not only releasing amazing in-game items for free but also making it absolutely crystal clear which of its characters are representing. So much love for this.
The entire universe… IN MINECRAFT.
The ghostly echo of games past sustains me (this is wonderful).
The CMA’s investigation into Microsoft’s purchase of Activision has moved on again (full pdf here if you want to go full nerd) and Microsoft is not happy.
4. A THIRD OF CHILDREN HAVE A FALSE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE OF 18+
Ofcom released its most recent research into the risks of harm to children online this week and it’s as worth reading as it is sharing.
This image kind of nailed it for me. Yes, you might think it’s fine now because your supervised 8yr old is viewing content that is for 13yrs old and you’re OK with that but as they get older, and you stop keeping an eye on them, that age moves with them…
And, well, just share that image around your parental WhatsApp groups, yeah?
5. WHAT KANYE CAN TEACH US ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM
The serious consequences of an unserious story.
An important read.
THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.
The White House is turning to TikTok (weeks after UK Parliament shut down theirs). Hmmmmm.
Christian Bale on his most iconic roles. I enjoyed this.
Trans rights are human rights. Also: Jon Stewart.
In my personal opinion, FB/Meta has gone too far too soon on the future of the internet and too little too late on the future of long-form video. Related: Use Instagram? Get ready for more ads.
What do native artists think of Michael Heizer’s new land art work? aka ‘White people, huh?’
The Governess on autism, and the challenges of everyday life.
Rollercoaster rides are triggering emergency calls from the new iPhone. Brilliant.
‘It felt like a funeral’ - William Shatner on his voyage to space. The truth stings on this one. The man is right.
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.
It was World Mental Health Day earlier this week. Richard Huntingdon wrote this incredibly personal and moving post - and I hope you read it.
I’ve written in these pages before about my own struggles in the past.
If you’re finding things difficult then please know you’re not alone and that you can talk to me anytime. I mean it.
There’s a reply button for a reason x
Keep going. Please.
Until next time,
Whatley out. x
Thanks for the Angela Lansbury link. I missed that in the NY Times, and it was a good way to start the day.