The word “metaverse” has been a very fashionable word in 2022. Metaverse here, Metaverse there, we have had it all, including the very bad ones. Today, the hype around this trend is running out of steam and the arrival of concrete projects in this area is beginning to be lacking. On the contrary, the trend tends rather towards an abandonment of the sector. This time, it is the giant Disney which has abandoned its ambitions of a virtual world.
Disney has always been interested in new technologies
There is something wrong with the metaverse. If there is a debate on the very definition of this technology, there is no doubt that the companies that have embarked on this path since Facebook’s big announcement have all been driven by the same idea: to create a 3D universe accessible to the most large number of people, where the border between virtual and reality is particularly fragile, like an extension or double of the physical world.
Since its appearance, Disney has made no secret that the brand has big ambitions for web 3. It’s been nearly two years since the company took root in the ecosystem, selling virtual collectible tokens (NFTs) featuring featured various studio characters on the Veve app.
Beyond NFTs, Disney was particularly interested in the idea of contributing to virtual 3D worlds, commonly referred to as the Metaverse. Given the variety of possibilities offered, the idea seemed to have potential, especially in amusement parks.
Real revolution or simple marketing concept?
It’s just that despite the hype, the next generation of Metaverse hasn’t appeared yet, and public enthusiasm doesn’t seem to have gone beyond pure curiosity yet. So much so that many are wondering if the Metaverse is ultimately just a hollow marketing concept.
The Walt Disney Company may have seen itself a little too good in September 2022. Its former CEO Bob Chapek (who will be fired after 2 months) then announced that his team would take a big step into the digital space. Non-fungible tokens (NFT), Web3 and even the “M-World” (according to Bob Chapek himself) have been mentioned.
The Abandoned Metaverse Division
But according to the Wall Street Journal on March 28, 2023, citing “knowledgeable sources”, Disney has simply decided to cancel its division of labor on the Metaverse.
As part of a “wider restructuring” of the large entertainment group – which could affect up to 7,000 jobs – the closure of its metaverse division will lead to the layoff of 50 employees. The latter was originally created in February 2022.
A major restructuring plan
In a difficult economic context, the company is about to lay off the entire team, ie 50 employees, dedicated to the exploitation of technology. This decision is part of the company’s overall restructuring plan. These layoffs are in addition to nearly 7,000 other positions that could be affected by the entertainment giant’s strategic choices.
Giants are abandoning the metaverse one after another
Disney is not the first company to abandon such a project. The giant Microsoft, for example, decided to stop spending money on the Metaverse for similar reasons.
Even more strikingly, Meta, the parent company of companies like Facebook and Instagram, is leaning more towards artificial intelligence – and this, whereas Metaverse was its Trojan horse a year and a half ago.
End of the hype
As such, the hype surrounding the Metaverse seems to have caught companies off guard. With the ambition of reaching an estimated $5 trillion market by 2030, several giants have embarked on metaverse projects in recent years.
Years of research ahead
Now that the insane hype about the potential (but very real) of the Metaverse seems to have passed, only solid plans remain. This aspect of the internet of the future, made up of the interconnected digital world (the web), will still require years of work and research before it takes on a concrete enough form to lead to real (and certainly robust) adoption.