Advertisements for products that invoke “the metaverse” always leave me feeling like I’m trying to understand the nature of a square triangle. For example, Coca-Cola said last week that its new limited-edition metaverse soda is “inspired by pixel fun.” What is the flavor of the joke? What does a pixel taste like? And what makes pixels fun?
I suppose I’m falling into Coca-Cola’s trap by saying that the answers to these questions can only be found in a sip of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte, which it claims is “rooted in the experiences that games make possible” – neither does it. it’s a flavor – and will be available in two packs of slim tins from May 2nd. Limited edition cans will only be buyable online (opens in new tab), which Coca-Cola says makes them “a gateway between the digital and physical worlds”. This is also how I describe buying things online.
Coca-Cola’s most significant statement about its new metaverse liquid is that it tastes “brilliant”. So citrus maybe? The company also says that the “initial taste of the soda is reminiscent of the power of a game”, but I refuse to accept that anyone genuinely believes that.
On the other hand, my favorite description of Diet Coke – which used to be a many times a day habit for me – is that it is “how to drink an algorithm (opens in new tab),” so maybe I’m not giving Coca-Cola enough credit for understanding their own products. Maybe a sip of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Byte really “brings living pixels into a taste experience.”
As a metaverse soda, the Coke Byte release includes a Fortnite Creative Island (code: 856502873178) that features four mini-games “that can only be solved by working together with other players”, as well as a separate augmented reality game that “tells the story of Byte, an 8-bit pixel left behind when Coke Cola Byte has entered the metaverse.”
What does “enter the metaverse” mean anyway? Coca-Cola says the first time it “entered the metaverse” was last year, when it sold an NFT collection for 217 Ethereum (about $644,490 at its current price) to benefit the Special Olympics. I think it’s cool that they sold some pictures for charity, but it’s not romance when you put it that way. And if making a soda game counts as “entering the metaverse”, then 7-Up was living there since 1993 (opens in new tab).
I recently had fun discussion with the creator of Second Life about his feelings about the “metaverse” becoming Silicon Valley’s new favorite buzzword – he’s not very impressed. I haven’t checked in to see how he feels about metaverse Coke, though. Maybe it’s good?
Coke Byte is the second limited edition beverage from Coca-Cola Creations. The first one is called Coca-Cola Starlight, which apparently tastes like “outer space,” and I’ll admit I’m curious what emptiness tastes like. Maybe our friends in space.com to meet.