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What the demise of the metaverse means for restaurant technology priorities


In Sept. 2022, Starbucks officially unveiled its highly anticipated foray into the metaverse: Starbucks Odyssey. At the time, NFTs and the metaverse were the trendy tech innovation of the moment, with businesses across many sectors scrambling to figure out how to cash in on the popularity of Web3, which was promised to be a more immersive “Internet of the Future.” Eighteen months after unveiling Starbucks Odyssey, the Seattle-based coffee company has confirmed that the program — which has been in beta mode for 15 months — will officially end at the end of the month.  

While the announcement comes as no surprise — it has been a while since the metaverse and NFTs captivated audiences and motivated tech companies — Starbucks ending Odyssey in its current form signals the closing of a chapter in the history of restaurant technology.

While the coffee chain was not the first to dabble in Web3 digital marketing capabilities — Chipotle first debuted virtual games on Roblox in 2021 and the Wendyverse opened in April 2022 — Starbucks’ Odyssey project was one of the most high-profile metaverse projects that offered some of the most potential for long-term digital engagement. The Odyssey project was supposed to go beyond limited-time digital games and introduce Starbucks super-users to a community of likeminded “Siren fans.” The digital universe would encourage them to buy and trade NFTs (rebranded as “Journey Stamps”) and trade them in for Starbucks benefits and experiences, up to and including a high-value trip to a Costa Rica coffee farm.

TAGS: Technology
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