In 2023, Disney announced its entry into the metaverse with great fanfare.
The company invested heavily in the development of a new platform that promised to bring together its iconic characters, films, and theme park attractions to living rooms.
In this blog post, we would take a look at all the events that occurred during this period, why they happened, and plans for Disney Metaverse.
Will Disney be investing in the Metaverse?
About one year ago when news about Walt Disney Company’s plans to invest in a digital world spread like wildfire, the whole fanbase was starstruck by the news although some did not see it as the best investment.
Exactly one year later, Disney released another statement that it is considering shutting down plans of investing in the metaverse amidst other news from bigger firms like Meta and Apple.
What really happened? Why did they pull back from investing in the metaverse? Questions like these have been asked all over the globe on the internet and the news.
But before we look at all that happened before the plans were cut short, here’s an overview of what Disney planned to make their metaverse look like one year ago.
The Walt Disney Metaverse
Here’s what Bob Chapek the former Walt Disney Company’s CEO had to say in an interview about the Disney Metaverse.
“We believe there is a world where we can add a third dimension of storytelling.
I call it sort of a three-dimensional canvas that we can take the folks that make our great television shows and the great music and the great movies and theme parks attractions and you give them the freedom to paint on that third dimension and don’t necessarily constrain it with typical definitions and you let them explore and use both the physical world (our theme parks), but also take the media and the virtual pieces as an opportunity to bring those two things together so we can tell stories in that third dimension.
I think it’s the next great horizon for Disney and in the world of entertainment and I don’t think anyone is as situated as the Walt Disney Company is to have our creative geniuses work on that to tell the kind of stories expected in this new modern world.”
The metaverse is an interconnection of both physical and virtual reality.
It is a virtual world where people can interact with each other through avatars (digital representations of themselves) with a fully immersive experience where people can engage in different activities such as socializing, gaming, shopping, and more.
The metaverse is like an online version of the real world, but with limitless possibilities and fewer limitations where people can create and explore their own unique identities.
From various reports and interviews from the Disney Company itself, the Disney Metaverse was expected to be a potential virtual world that would combine various Disney-owned franchises, such as Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Disney itself.
This little shared space would allow users to interact with these various characters in the franchise and properties in the metaverse with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and also with the potential for massive events and other interactive experiences.
Is Disney eliminating its metaverse division?
According to a Wall Street Journal report, both the Disney Metaverse and Horizon worlds by Meta are being cut down.
Scott Kessler a highly renowned analyst suggests that the metaverse may not reach critical mass anytime soon since AI and assistants were now becoming more relevant and highly sought after.
A few years ago, Mark Zuckerberg was all in on the metaverse showcasing high-profile partnerships at Meadows Connect 2022. Microsoft was a key partner and even Disney had been working on metaverse projects since 2021. However, things have changed.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has now invested 10 billion dollars into AI and Zuckerberg himself has been emphasizing AI over the metaverse in recent times.
The Wall Street Journal also noted that sales of Meta Quest 2 headsets have been down and the number of users in Horizon worlds hasn’t been impressive.
But for now, plans for the Disney Metaverse have been shut down and the layoffs mean that roughly 50 members of the team have lost their jobs.
Also, plans for Disney metaverse remained unclear and unfamiliar to the audience at the receiving end after a year that the division was created.
Disney Shares fell slightly after the news was released and the company has been under pressure from investors to make cuts to make a restructuring plan to cause about 7,000 workers to be released from their jobs.
Disney has been conducting these rounds of layoffs and one of the casualties has been its entire Disney metaverse division. And it’s not the only company that has drawn away from investing in the metaverse.
Two of the key reasons for the shutdown of the Disney metaverse were unfavorable economic conditions and the rising ignorance of users in the virtual world business.
Both Disney’s past and current CEOs, Bob Chapek and Robert Iger, originally thought the Metaverse was a great investment possibility.
Chapek has specifically labeled the Disney Metaverse “the next great storytelling frontier,” while Iger previously served as a director and adviser for Genies, a digital avatar platform powered by Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain.
What’s next for Disney Metaverse?
It’s possible that these companies will leverage AI to create the next frontier and storytelling and entertainment. The metaverse may not be dead but it is clear that AI is taking center stage in its place for now.
As the Disney Metaverse project has been sidelined, one can’t help but wonder about the implications for the industry. Although Meta is still heavily invested in the world of virtual reality, the lack of widespread adoption may slow down its growth.
The metaverse is far from dead because emerging technologies like 5G and advancements in VR and AR could still contribute to its development and make it more accessible to the masses especially the ones with a lower income range.
Additionally, smaller startups will get an opportunity to find their niche within the metaverse ecosystem.
The success of the metaverse will rest on the quality of the user experience it offers.
For it to truly take off, it must provide an engaging interactive, and immersive experience that can compete with traditional forms of entertainment.
If the Disney metaverse or other metaverses can achieve this, it will surely regain the attention of investors and tech companies worldwide.