Disney is reportedly shutting down its metaverse unit as part of its plan to lay off 7,000 workers, which is expected to save the company around $5.5 billion. According to sources familiar with the situation, the metaverse division was responsible for exploring new technologies and developing strategies to create interactive stories using the company’s intellectual property library. The unit had about 50 employees, all of whom were laid off. However, the division’s leader, Mike White, will remain with the company, but his new role is unclear. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the layoffs in February, saying that they were part of a “significant transformation” aimed at increasing profitability. He also expressed empathy for those affected by the layoffs, acknowledging the impact on the talented and dedicated employees who contribute to the company’s success. The Wall Street Journal reported that Disney had indicated that the metaverse might have been used to develop fantasy sports, attractions at theme parks, and consumer experiences.
It’s worth noting that Disney’s decision to shut down its metaverse unit comes at a time when other companies are taking different approaches. For instance, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta and has been aggressively pushing into the metaverse space, investing billions of dollars in the development of virtual worlds and technologies to enable them. However, other companies such as Second Life and High Fidelity have abandoned their efforts to create metaverse-like experiences due to lack of interest or financial constraints.
On the other hand, some companies are fully embracing the potential of the metaverse. For example, Epic Games, the creator of the popular video game Fortnite, has been building a metaverse-like ecosystem that allows users to create and share their own content within the game. They have also launched a virtual music festival within Fortnite, showcasing the potential for virtual experiences to create unique, immersive events.
Overall, while the future of the metaverse remains uncertain, it’s clear that some companies believe in its potential, while others are wary of investing in a technology that is still largely untested.