Disney is reportedly shuttering a metaverse unit

  • Disney is reportedly shuttering its next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences unit.
  • This unit was reportedly working on metaverse aspirations, but wasn’t solely responsible for it.
  • The head of the unit, Mike White, is reportedly not expected to lose his job.

Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of us all wearing VR headsets and interacting in a digital world sans legs is looking more and more like a pipe dream.

Where 2022 was the year of NFTs and investment into the metaverse, 2023 appears to be more about implementing technology that folks can actually use and experience, like ChatGPT.

It also looks like companies are dialling back their investment in the metaverse. One of those companies appears to be Disney which has shuttered its next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences unit. While the unit was small, it was developing metaverse strategies according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Worse still, this is the first step in a planned restructuring of Disney where 7 000 employees will reportedly lose their jobs. This is being done in an effort to cut approximately $5.5 billion in costs according to people familiar with the matter.

Furthermore, it appears as if Mike White, the person who was appointed to lead the unit won’t be losing his job.

This unit being shut down doesn’t signal that Disney is abandoning the metaverse entirely but it is a major departure from the fervour we saw surrounding the concept last year.

Even Meta, the creators of this buzz are struggling with The Verge pointing out that the firm’s Reality Labs division reported an operating loss of $13.72 billion.

While we take no joy in seeing folks lose their jobs, the idea that a virtual world where folks could meet and have experiences together never sat right with us. The graphics on display were dated, the experiences were hampered by the limitations of networks and the idea of wearing a massive VR headset to “relax” is one that never made much sense.

Even at the height of the pandemic, the metaverse felt a sorry attempt at recreating the world in Ready Player One.

While we’re on the topic of the metaverse, we highly recommend giving Dan Olson from Folding Ideas video below a watch. Yes it’s about as long as a feature film but it’s well worth a watch.

[Image – Jocelyn Hsu on Unsplash]


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