Five things on Friday #347

Things of note for the week ending Sunday June 18th 2023.

I snapped this Crown Plaza ad at Heathrow Airport last month. It’s in the corridors as you pass through security. If you made this, I only have one question: what the actual ever loving f*** were you thinking? Thanks x

INTRO

It’s been a minute. How have you been?

I’ve been: busy with work (more on that later) on holiday (ten year anniversary with the Mrs – Sorrento, was lovely), and then down and out with covid (do not recommend).

As I write to you it’s 942am on Sunday 18th June. It’s Father’s Day. The kids have delivered gifts, coffee, and cake (cake!) and so I’ve been left to relax in bed.

And here I am, writing to you.

I hope wherever you are in the world reading this you are well and happy. Life is hard at times. Sometimes it feels like it all of the time. The most important thing is that you stay. You are loved and appreciated more than you will ever know by people close to you and people who you’ve met only once but left a lifelong impression on.

So… if you take one thing from this week’s edition it’s this: stay.

What else can I tell you?

Oh yes! Thank you so much to the FToF readers that have kindly donated to the my Tough Mudder attempt (less than two months away!) – we’re still a little way off our target so if you enjoy this entirely free newsletter, and can spare a fiver or two FOR WAR CHILD on payday (stick a reminder in) then please donate here.

There’s been a lot going on across my broad spectrum of interestingness since we last spoke so I’ll try and keep this edition of THINGS tight and brief – we both know that won’t happen. But there’s no harm in trying, right?

Shall we?

TO THE THINGS!


1. 100 BARRINGTON

A dear friend of mine happens to be in charge of a ridiculous event space in South London called, 100 Barrington.

A few weeks months ago, and in the name updating their marketing material for ‘23 and beyond, 100 Barrington hosted one hell of a partythis one in fact.

Yours truly- along with some other VERY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE -bagged an invite and, as it was such an amazing evening, I made a promise to the hosts that I would gladly let you all know about it.

So in case you are looking for an events space in Brixton – for a summer party, a wedding, or planning ahead for Christmas – Give 100 Barrington a call.

Ask for Dan. And tell him James Whatley says hi x


2. OK LET’S TALK ABOUT THE METAVERSE VISION PRO

(I wasn’t going to write about this – it’s been done to death already and so many others have done a better job; I liked Ben Evans’ take. But a few people have asked and so OK fine).

On June 5th, Apple announced Vision Pro. A beta programme first generation mixed reality headset that will be made available from early 2024.

The price for this beta headset starts at $3499.

A few things.

Let’s talk about what the Vision Pro is:

  • IT IS the start of a new category: consumer facing mixed reality device.

  • IT IS a phenomenal amount of tech squeezed into what is basically curved glass.

  • IT IS (in textbook Apple behaviour) a smart application and combination of existing technologies + some Apple magic. eg: eye-tracking and foveated rendering (the technology that only keeps high fidelity focus on the areas of the screen your eyes are looking at, delivering energy and memory efficiencies) has already been in PS VR2.

  • IT IS v. exciting purely from a future-gazing entertainment perspective. The Disney+ integration (easily the best part of the entire presentation – casual Bob Iger) is great but I highly doubt it’ll stay VP-exclusive – so I look forward to that rolling out on other VR platforms eventually.

  • IT IS (again, textbook Apple) a great communications exercise in how to root technology advancement in human-centric situations.

Let’s talk about what the Vision Pro isn’t:

  • IT ISN’T anything to do with the sodding metaverse. And you can take Apple’s word for that. In fact, the M word wasn’t said, presented or inferred once throughout the entire 2hr WWDC event. Telling. More on this shortly…

  • IT ISN’T – with its reported battery life of 2hrs – going to let you watch Everything Everywhere All At Once (2hrs 19mins) on a flight anytime soon.

  • IT ISN’T going to change anything for at least 18-24mths. The US release date is scheduled for ‘early 2024’ with more countries to follow later in the year. Volume targets are low (and lowering) so don’t expect the THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLAR device to do iPhone numbers ay. That said, this early announcement specifically at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC – the clue’s in the name) gives devs a decent run up to get familiar with the tech and get some banging apps ready. So that’s exciting.

  • IT ISN’T going to get families wearing these goggles during family events (that whole section was proper Black Mirror / divorced dad y’all).

So yeah, that’s the Vision Pro. A glimpse of an exciting/immersive future.

It’s mega premium, classic Apple, and dick all to do with the metaverse.

Related: the AFP asked me for some commentary – you can read that here – and Jamie East invited me onto The Sunday 7 to chat about it too, you can listen to that right here (from about 4mins 40).

IN OTHER NOT-THE-METAVERSE NEWS

  • I spoke to Alex Hern at The Observer about bad consultants selling terrible experiences for his piece, ‘Is Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse over?

  • If you think your life is bad, it could be worse – you could’ve been the one that signed off ‘the Skodaverse’. Or worse: PWC in Decentraland.

  • The Voice announced a ‘Roblox-Style’ metaverse called The Voice Studios. The only catch? They built it in Decentraland. How crap must the experience be in DCL if your own press release has to use Roblox to get press coverage? 😂

  • Shed a tear for early retirement of the Chief Metaverse Officer role. According to AdAge, even the godmother herself has broadened out the title (print friendly link).

  • Meta announced the Quest 3 (who for?) and didn’t use the M word (are they shying away now? Finally?)

  • Everyone (well, everyone pictured in the middle of the image at the top of this section) says gaming is the ‘entry point’ to the metaverse, so why did the entire summer of gaming / Not-E3 / #SummerGameFest pass without a single developer or publisher mentioning it?

  • And of course, throughout Apple’s entire WWDC they didn’t say ‘metaverse’ once.

Hilariously these last two points were noted and raised to me by a client (I have the best clients).

To quote Ben Evans: it is impossible to know what someone means when they use the word ‘metaverse’. It is a meaningless joke. A waste of time, breath, and usually, money.

With the entire gaming industry, Apple, and now seemingly Meta itself finally moving away from the word, will 2023 mean we’re finally binning the metaverse word off for good? It’s nearly been a year since I stood on stage and told you all it was waffle.

Glad everyone has caught up.

Image

3. THIS WEEK IN GAMING

It’s been quite busy in the world of gaming. A whole host of announcements in/at Summer Game Fest meant that players will FEAST over the next 12-18mths.

Xbox by far and away had the best presentation of the show (you can watch the showcase, along with the Starfield direct deep dive right here).

Get Ready for the Xbox Games Showcase and Starfield Direct Double Feature  Airing June 11 - Xbox Wire

I’m not going to go into the details of everything but overall highlights for me were:

  • Fable (amazing trailer, no announcement date)

  • Star Wars Outlaws (the gameplay trailer at Ubi Forward was great)

  • New Prince of Persia (2.5d refresh, I’m in)

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 (rescue choppers, DUNE DLC!)

  • Hellblade II: Senua’s Saga (I cannot wait for this)

  • Starfield (seriously, looks nuts – No Man’s Sky and so much more)

  • Jusant (‘climb, fall 23’ – is a great line)

  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage (new AC based on old AC? Sign me up)

  • Still Wakes the Deep (creepy af)

  • Dungeons of Hinterberg (love the style and setting)

  • Cyberpunk 2077: Phanom Liberty (I hope this is good)

  • Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (I am unashamedly a fan of all things Avatar so will absolutely be all over this)

AND THAT’S JUST OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD AND THERE ARE STILL ANNOUNCEMENTS TO COME.

There has never been a better time to get into gaming.

Lovely.

Next question.

What am I playing?

  • I finished Jedi Fallen Order (excellent – this is a good article on the game’s main mode of transport) and downloaded Jedi: Survivor to play but didn’t get around to playing it because…

  • …I went on holiday and finally finished The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the way and then immediately picked up Tears of the Kingdom upon arrival (I’m three regional phenomena down, one to go) along with Advance Wars. Its inarguable that TotK is not a great graphical experience but the physics and the story are incredible. On this point specifically, Jonathan is excellent.

  • Then Street Fighter 6 came out and I’ve struggled to put that down (global ranking of Bronze + 2 stars and 3517 – wanna fight?)

  • AND THEN Diablo IV came out and I’ve been playing a ton of that too.

And while I’m still doing regular raids with the gang, I’m really behind on my Destiny 2 story beats. I’ve got a pitch next week so hopefully some time will free up after that…? MAYBE?!

What are you playing?

AND FINALLY IN THIS GAMING SECTION

A big thanks to the people and PR team at PLATFORM BAR. A few weeks ago they invited (and paid for) me and a pal to their brand new venue in Canary Wharf (right by Crossrail) for an evening of pizza, beers, and gaming.

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With a boozy gamer-themed cocktail bar and pizzas (along with vegan options for the dairy intolerant massive), each booth has a PS5 and Nintendo Switch on hand to play a whole ton of different games while you booze.

Like I said, Platform paid for our whole evening – I have to declare that – but the way it’s set up and ran (by clearly a bunch of awesome nerds – and it’s ace), we had such a great evening (I don’t have to say that).

Want to know more? Here’s the website (there’s one in Shoreditch too, natch).


4. HERE, HAVE SOME AWESOME WORK STUFF

I know this is all tangential/adjacent to the above thing but we’ve got so much in this edition I felt like it needed to be broken out on its own.

Sorry, I can’t get enough of this.

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Briefed by Activision, designed and rendered by Diva (in Unreal Engine 5, no less), painted by Global Street Art on media bought my Rapport WW – this is some of my favourite work we’ve every produced (not just London either).

It’s just stunning. More here.

We also did this sick bus for Square Enix and their incoming launch of Final Fantasy XVI (free demo available right now).

Image

I think flames might be a thing.

MORE STUFF COMING SOON.

Other stuff of note from Diva towers:


5. SPIDERVERSE LEGO AWESOMES

Took the eldest to see Spider-Verse last week and in the minorest of minor spoilers, there is a moment in the movie where it spins a web out to a Lego-variant Spider-Verse. This alone is awesome. The story behind it is even better.

How a 14-Year-Old Came to Animate a Scene in ‘Across the Spider-Verse


BONUS SECTION

THIS IS THE BONUS SECTION. BONUS LINKS THAT BUMP US OVER FIVE THINGS (AND ALMOST CERTAINLY THE EMAIL LIMIT) BUT DUE TO TIMING AND SELF-IMPOSED WRITING RESTRICTIONS ARE LIMITED TO PITHY COMMENTARY ONLY.

ENJOY.


YOU ARE REACHING THE END OF THE NEWSLETTER. MIND THE GAP.

There’s no way I’ve covered everything off I wanted to cover but I woke up this morning and wanted to write. Thanks for indulging me. It’s 15:58 and I’m writing this final section to you.

I won’t be sending it til later though – it’s Father’s Day and the kids wanna play Fortnite. I’ll see you again soon gang.

Big love,

Whatley out x

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

One thought on “Five things on Friday #347”

  1. The Lost article was great. I used to follow anything Maureen Ryan wrote about that and Battlestar Gallactica.

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