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Five things on Friday #351
Things of note for the week ending Friday July 14th, 2023.
Hello and welcome to Five things on Friday.
‘A regular kaleidoscope of clever ideas and great links. An obvious labour of love. Highly recommended.’
Cheers for that, Darragh. I think that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said about this thing in ages. And I properly love ‘An obvious labour of love’.
Might update the description.
How are you?
I took a few days off at the start of the week to celebrate the Mrs’ birthday. Went down to Southampton and stayed at the Harbour Hotel. It’s blimmin’ lovely down there. Decent food, lovely staff, and overall just a decent mini break (sans kids, obvs). Then we came back and attempted five days work in two which… well… never works out well for anyone. I am tired.
What else can I tell you?
As I write this to you now, it’s 21:14 on Friday July 14th. The Things have been collated quite quickly this week. Mainly from Threads, which is a good sign but more on that in a bit. But I haven’t been able to find the time to write them up until now.
Shall we get on with it then?
1. ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER NEWSLETTER KICKING OFF WITH MORE UPDATES ABOUT THREADS
A week or so later, how we all feeling?
Let’s start with a breath freshener from Charlie Warzel over at The Atlantic:
Cool. Still feeling good?
OK! Let’s crack on.
As loathe as I am to admit it, my words from last week still ring true: in the game of ‘which billionaire’s platform I dislike the least’, I’m definitely landing more on the one where literal nazis don’t get to buy their way to the top your newsfeed (and then get paid for the pleasure).
But hey, that’s just me.
And while I’ve never made a secret of my distaste of Zuck’s big blue misery machine, with Threads I am actually having fun again.
It might be the fact that it’s pretty much stopped me using Twitter*.
It might be the fact that the friend/socialgraph actually works.
It MIGHT be the fact that it feels like a decent community (again).
Will it last forever?
Almost certainly not.
They’ll mess with the algorithm, stick Stories or Reels across the top and then, when the users hit critical mass, pump it full of ads - I’m sure.
All before the end of the next FY.
(side: if this FY for Meta is all about ‘Operational Efficiencies’, you can bet your hen’s teeth that next FY will be about maximising new ad revenue opportunities).
Until then though? Let’s have fun.
With that in mind, here are some…
THREADS PRO TIPS.
You want to make panoramic photos like a pro?
Here are three ways to do that.
#2 On Android?
I can recommend an app called PhotoSplit that does the same as the above (but currently limited to three windows - I have paid for the Pro version and sent a feature request to the devs). That’s what most of mine are made in.
#3 On desktop?
Get yourself into Google slides, hit File > Page Setup > Custom > 4:5 and then make yourself some snappy panoramic stuff.
The only other thing I would add to my bumper book of Threads Pro Tips™️ is that you get in what you get out. So if you’re still on Twitter, use this search string to help find people you might like. Follow people. Interact. Mute crap brands/influencers… And why not use this as an opportunity to clean house and start over. That’s what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll see you there?
Oh and PS. Our studio team is already cooking up some fun client-based Threads stuff (coming soon) but if you’re looking for some creative fun on how to make your trailers, key art, or game announcements sing, come talk to Diva.
*At the time of writing, this was mostly true. Then Twitter announced it was paying a whole bunch of Far Right hate mongers for being monstrous hate machines and now that has confirmed it: I won’t be back on Twitter.
2. PACK YER BAGS
Welcome to the UK, where a ‘Let’s speak to young people about taking teabags on their summer holiday to Ibiza’ is a completely normal brief.
Yes, let’s how much we love tea.
And Yorkshire Tea (EDIT: and its agency, Lucky Generals - well done gang) have absolutely smash it out of the park.
You gotta watch this.
I love love love it.
3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING
Gameboy mailboxes. Amazing.
I found the above photo on Threads. Well, a version of it (without the watermark). A bit of googling and I found the source. Isn’t it lovely? I want one.
OK, where were we?
Here we are.
In arguably the biggest news announcement to happen to the Quest VR platform since it launched, Roblox is arriving in beta on Meta Quest 'in the coming weeks'.
For the those of you that don’t know, Roblox has around 66m daily active users (DAUs) - that's 66 million uniques signing into their Roblox account EVERY DAY.
Meanwhile, Meta can barely get its own staff to login to Horizon Worlds - like, at all - let alone drive stickiness with its install base. The last DAU reported, back in October, was 200,000 and I would wager even that has dwindled since then (I mean, it’s gotta be a sick burn when the users for an app and hardware you’ve poured tens of billions of dollars into gets overtaken by a Twitter clone in like an hour).
So this is a huge deal.
Meta Quest has needed a killer app for its VR hardware ‘solution’ forever. And with Roblox - being played by tens millions of young people every day (albeit 70% of them accessing via mobile) - and Quests in living rooms and drawers gathering dust for months - then this hugely popular platform might be the unlock they've been looking for.
You can read the announcement on Meta’s newsroom pages however I would draw you attention to this section:
“Roblox on Quest will be available for people ages 13 and up. And parents can use existing Meta Quest parental supervision tools to help create a level of safety and supervision that’s right for their family.”
This announcement is dated July 12th. Less than a month before, Meta was also announcing another new ‘feature’ for its platform, ‘Parent managed families’”
“Today we’re announcing changes to give families even more ways to use and enjoy Meta Quest. Starting later this year, parents will be able to set up parent-managed Meta accounts for Meta Quest 2 and 3 for their children ages 10 – 12.”
So Roblox is coming out for Meta Quest.
You have to be 13 to play it but we’ll let the parents decide.
BY THE WAY, YOU CAN SIGN THEM UP WHEN THEY’RE TEN NOW!
Also note: ‘people’ vs ‘children’.
There’s a teeny tiny whiff of ‘Well, we did tell the parents that they had to be 13, it’s not really up to us how they monitor their kids’ behaviour once they’ve signed up them up after they turn 10. We gave them the tools senator…’
You tell me.
Given all of the above, and the glacial speed at which any kind of regulation moves through the US/EU: IF the Roblox beta goes well and
kids people come running in their droves I wonder how long Horizon Worlds will survive...
OH YEAH, I did think of one good thing about this news.
At least when Roblox rolls out on Quest then this call to action FROM SEPTEMBER LAST YEAR (as covered in FTOF #337) for Walmart’s godawful Roblox world will actually make sense now 😂
‘Grab your headsets’, honestly.
I would’ve linked to the Tweet but for some reason Walmart has deleted it.
Quick Gaming News
PepsiCo announced a multiyear partnership with EA, anchored around the incoming EA Sports FC (aka ‘FC’, aka ‘FC24’ aka ‘Not-FIFA’). You know the grown ups are in the room when this kind of stuff is announced. Talk about learning from your competitor’s mistakes.
In a landmark case in the US, the makers of Destiny 2 (and soon, Marathon), Bungie, has managed to successfully hold a sociopathic troll liable for damages against Bungie and its staff. The culprit - one Jesse James Comer - is liable for nearly $500k worth of costs. This. Is. Amazing. Not only setting a new precedent for studios defending themselves against idiotic gAmEr but also HUGE KUDOS to Bungie for coming out to bat so hard for its team. I follow a bunch of Bungo folk across various social media and if you’re reading this @LegalMinimum, I salute you man. Here’s IGN with the full story.
Remember the amazing 100ft tall Lilith / Diablo IV graffiti project? This is how we did it.
Gameplay trailers should include gameplay, right?
New Hellboy (the game) trailer! RIP Lance x
ARE YOU GOING TO GAMESCOM? Let me know. Reply to this, send me a Linkedin message, email me or whatsapp or whatever. I will be there. Coffee?
What is James playing this week?
I finished the Diablo IV campaign AT LAST (and what a story - I swear to God, that game has some of the best - if not the best - cut scenes I have ever seen in a game, ever (you can watch a supercut here spoiler alert etc - if you’re never going to play the game, watch this - if you’re on the fence about the game, just watch the first one) so that was fun to do. And the voice acting really is superb - special shout to Ralph Ineson. Anyway, go play it.
With Diablo out of the way, it was time to crack on with FFXVI but before I did that, a brief interaction on Threads on Wednesday reminded me that I’d downloaded Planet of Lana on Game Pass and hadn't given it a go.
And wow. What a gorgeous game it is.
Take a dose of Limbo, add a healthy amount of gorgeous colours and paintwork (look at those trees - look at them!), toss in a phenomenally cute animal friend (it’s basically a cat called ‘mui’ but my youngest insisted on calling it ‘grey rabbit’) and you’ve got the best Diablo IV palate cleaner you could ever ask for.
I finished it in a day - and I’m so pleased I spent time with it.
PLAY PLANET OF LANA.
Next up: Final Fantasy XVI. Then Jedi: Survivor.
What are you playing?
4. IT’S JULY AND WE HAVEN’T TALKED ABOUT THE ORCAS YET
I mean, can you believe it took this long?
Yes, Killer Whales are attacking yachts in the med.
Yes, it is hilarious.
Yes, this article ‘The orca uprising: whales are ramming boats – but are they inspired by revenge, grief or memory?’ has got some banging paragraphs.
“They’re very interested in us,” [says Philip Hoare, the author of Leviathan and Albert and the Whale,]. “Every whale I’ve met, and I’ve met thousands, they’re all interested in us. Because they know there’s nothing out there in their ocean – other than other whales – that is like us. We’re talking about all this now; there’s an equivalent conversation going on in orca society. Orca are podcasting. Literally podcasting. I’ll copyright that joke!” He sends me a 10-second recording of sound captured during his own interaction with the orca pod in Sri Lanka – a complex soundscape of clicks, rasps and squeaks that gives me goosebumps. “If you could only translate that, everything that has been written about this would be rendered defunct. We’ll all be proved wrong.”
Lovely. I implore you to read the whole thing.
5. LET THE MUSIC PLAY
OREO announced a new partnership with Mario and (it was nothing to do with me and whisper it the Xbox partnership was better - shh but) the announcement film is great!
What’s really great about it is that System1 group tested it and gave it a the prestigious title of ‘the best ad we’ve reviewed this year’. Gotta use those distinctive brand assets, y’all - and this is a lesson in how to do that well.
Can you imagine though, seeing the western internet go nuts for this partnership just as you are literally days away from dropping this amazingly similar piece for Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning?
BUUUUT did you know the M:I xylophone ball thing was done completely in digital?
IT IS NOT REAL.
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.
When you build agencies on the crunched up bones of the youth, they will leave.
Wake up calendar nerds, Google Calendar now lets users know where people will be working throughout the day.
I think I’ve shared this before but the Wayback Machine has a way to archive your tweets (should you choose to delete your account). I did this last week, it took 10mins or so once I had the download of my tweets from Twitter. Once you set the upload, the process happens in the background. Me, with 200k+ tweets? It about 100 or so hours. Worth considering.
Now’s the time to export your stuff out of Evernote.
What do you know, losers - turns out the Barbie stuff works.
Look at the absolute state of this MeTaVeRsE mess from L’Occitane. I saw it described on Linkedin as ‘visually beautiful & powerful #userexperiencedesign to bring in branded content in a new, engaging relatable way’ - shoot me into the actual sun.
A Funeral for Chris Messina. I need Twitter for work (for the time being). But I am closer to the end of my Twitter account that I am to the beginning. By some margin.
Can you imagine being in a position whereby you could charter The Chairman’s Train? Lush.
If you worked for the lawyers that helped ensure Musk bought Twitter, then maybe you could charter The Chairman’s Train. Here’s the FT on ‘The Anatomy of a Twitter Payout’ - genuinely fascinating.
26 signs that creative strategy is still alive, from the excellent Tom Roach.
Did you know that ‘Over and Over’ by Hot Chip features a low key burn to Jo Whiley? No, me neither.
YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE STEP.
Thanks for making it this far.
If you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, please consider passing it onto a friend. And remember the pitch: Five things on Friday, it doesn’t always come on Friday but you always get more than five.
I hope wherever you are life is being good to you. I’ve got a birthday party for a pal tomorrow afternoon and an afternoon of doing sweet FA on Sunday. I might play some video games with the kids.
Be kind to yourself. Show yourself some love.
And above all else enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.
Whatley out x
Last last last thing: this made me chuckle.