Ordering a Burger in the Metaverse Might Leave You Hungry

LOL the Wendyverse

  • Wendy’s is moving into the metaverse by opening its first virtual reality store. 
  • It’s part of a growing move by stores and restaurants to stake a claim in the metaverse, a collection of shared virtual spaces. 
  • The current influx of restaurants in the metaverse is more about branding than providing anything useful for consumers. 
Person at a dinner table wearing a VR headset

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You’ll soon be able to order food in the metaverse even if you won’t immediately be able to eat the real thing. 

Wendy’s is moving into the metaverse by opening its first virtual reality store. The fast-food chain will be available on Meta’s Horizon Worlds VR platform. It’s part of a growing move by stores and restaurants to stake a claim in the metaverse, a collection of virtual shared spaces. 

“You may not be able to taste in the Metaverse, but you can certainly use your other senses and emotions, and this is something that brands have done for decades to connect with customers,” Jason Yim, the CEO of Trigger XR, a mixed reality agency, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Welcome to the Wendyverse

The new Wendy’s restaurant is more about branding than serving actual food. In Wendyverse Town Square Central, there will be a virtual Wendy's restaurant, but you can’t order menu items. 

But users who take part in virtual games can score a Sausage or Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit for $1 in-app or in-restaurant for a limited time. 

"For years, we've been meeting our fans in unexpected ways and places with our unique approach to social media, gaming, and engagement," Carl Loredo, chief marketing officer for The Wendy's Company, said in a news release. "We're excited to take this to the next level by launching the Wendyverse in Meta's Horizon Worlds and bringing a totally new dimension of access to our fans. Truly a first of its kind, the Wendyverse bridges the best of today with tomorrow to show up for our fans across every world - with a Frosty and fries in hand."

Jackie Walker, a senior director at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient, said in an email that brands are capitalizing on the novelty factor by moving into the metaverse. A recent Gartner survey showed that only 27% of US consumers are very familiar with the metaverse or somewhat knowledgeable but not confident enough to explain it to others. “So for mass-market brands like Wendy’s, the reality is that this is a small segment of their customer population,” Walker said.

The Coming Wave of Metaverse Restaurants

Person using a tablet

Weiquan Lin / Getty Images

In addition to Wendy’s, several food brands have been exploring ways to get into the burgeoning metaverse. There is still no consensus on the best place to meet customers in the metaverse, so while Wendy’s is opening to customers with Quest 2 headsets, other brands have leveraged different platforms. 

Walker said that Chipotle might be most notable for their entry into Roblox, a retro 1993 Chipotle’s where customers could roll their burritos for in-experience currency, which could be redeemed for real Chipotle food. Chipotle claims to be the first brand to allow this exchange of in-experience for real food, the first to serve virtual food, and the first to launch a real-life menu item inspired by the metaverse community. 

Walker said that many brands had filed a flurry of patents to protect their names and assets in the metaverse. “Panera, McDonald’s, Yum’s KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell have all filed patents to ensure ownership and control of their brand and assets in the metaverse,” Walker noted. “Expect more from these brands in the coming months.”

The main activities that metaverse users are focusing on right now are gaming, content creation, and social interaction.

But Nicolas Avila, Globant’s Chief Technology Officer in North America, said the current crop of restaurants in the metaverse is more about branding than providing anything useful for consumers. 

“The main activities that metaverse users are focusing on right now are gaming, content creation, and social interaction,” Avila said. “So while, of course, there’s no eating in the metaverse, it’s still a place to interact with other people in a playful, fun, and new way.”

Fairlane Raymundo, the director of innovation at RayCo Media, a digital marketer, said that in the future, brands wouldn’t just use the metaverse to advertise their current products and services. Instead, they “can create an entirely new business or brand.”

But Raymundo said she was on the fence about whether she would eat a virtual burger. “That depends on how many calories the program will load on my Avatar,” Raymundo said.

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