McDonald’s is entering the metaverse after having filed 10 trademark applications outlining that the chain will provide “downloadable multimedia files” for artwork, audio and video applications, as well as NFTs. Additionally, the fast food giant’s business plans include operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and digital goods, with said virtual restaurant also featuring a home delivery option.
Josh Gerben, trademark attorney and founder of Gerben Law, flagged the trademarks on Twitter. He told GOBankingRates that the more functional aspect of the applications is the idea of ordering real-world McDonald’s from within the metaverse.
“So, say you’re in a virtual world and you’re playing games and you get hungry. Instead of getting off your couch, you can walk down the street in the metaverse and walk to McDonald’s and virtual clerks take your order, and in 20 minutes, your order comes to your door,” he said. “It might seem strange to some folks, but it’s a thing.”
Asked when these applications could come to fruition, Gerben said that from a technological perspective, “in a couple of years, maybe.”
From a trademark filing point of view, McDonald’s has to prove they are offering virtual restaurants, however. “They [McDonald’s] will have about 4 years from the filing to prove they are actually doing it,” Gerben explained.
“But it’s very likely the reason the filings were made is that these types of services are very imminent, probably within the next 24 months,” he added. In the past three or four months — since the Facebook/Meta announcement — several major companies are filing trademark applications, and lots of companies are having serious internal conversations about how to adapt to this.”
Gerben added that “nobody wants to be the next Blockbuster, and everybody wants to stay relevant, so large companies are having conversations about how to prepare and how they will operate in the metaverse.”
“You are going to see every major brand make similar filings in the next 12 months, we see these filings coming every single day,” he concluded.
Other Tech Industry Analysts Agree with McDonald’s Moving to the Metaverse
Markus Levin, head of operations at California tech startup XY Labs and co-founder of XYO, echoed this sentiment. He told GOBankingRates that the metaverse represents a potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for companies, creators, artists, and brands to engage with customers and fans in exciting new ways.
“The future shape of what the metaverse will look like for everyday users is obviously still taking shape, but with the expected entry of powerhouse companies and global brands like McDonald’s, we can anticipate that a fully immersive digital world is on the horizon,” Levin said.
Levin added that as a well-established brand, McDonald’s can capitalize on the metaverse in several ways. Some of these applications may include allowing customers to try new food items — or to create digital avatars and integrate branding into games. McDonald’s could also utilize NFTs to create customer loyalty programs. Another opportunity could be to integrate location data into their digital experience, as geospatial location data can be leveraged to map metaverse stores that correlate to stores in the real world, giving customers a sense of familiarity, he said.
Anthony Georgiades, co-founder of Pastel, agreed, telling GOBankingRates that no one wants to be the Luddite company that gets left behind — and that any company as large as McDonald’s has the resources to hedge their bets and dip their toe in the metaverse without a second thought.
“Why should people have to leave the metaverse to order their DoorDash? I can imagine a future where your virtual avatar can order McDonald’s to be delivered to your physical door, and you are sent an NFT that acts as the receipt,” Georgiades said. “Maybe you ordered a pickup, so you show that NFT when you go to pick up your order. We’ll see most functionality of the internet in the metaverse eventually, and soon having a metaverse store will be the equivalent of having a website.”
Saro McKenna, co-founder of Alien Worlds, told GOBankingRates that another facet of such a tech expansion is play-to-earn games in a metaverse: games that allow people to have fun, form meaningful relationships, and earn income at the same time.
“So, taking this news about McDonald’s to its logical conclusion, theoretically you could imagine a metaverse in which humans get to be creative by engaging in digital games, earn money in the process and then spend those earnings on a Quarter Pounder with a side of fries, that gets delivered to your actual (IRL) home,” McKenna said. “So, in short, an actual economy — involving a game, of all things — can be used to possibly sustain livelihoods and satisfy your late-night hunger pangs.”
More From GOBankingRates