After “burying” more than $15 billion last year in developing a Metavers that no one else seems interested in, Mark Zuckerberg’s company is losing its collaboration with Disney, one of its most promising content partners.
According to information obtained from sources, the Disney giant has shut down its Metavers division and fired the team of about 50 employees responsible for adapting/creating content for the VR universe envisioned as Facebook’s successor. The as-yet-unannounced move is part of a wider restructuring program aimed at cutting costs and streamlining the company by laying off up to 7,000 employees.
Announced openly by Facebook’s founder himself, plans for a Metavers in which everyone will wear AR/VR devices and interact with other people in a virtual universe controlled by a single company have put big players in the tech industry on guard, with numerous companies announcing near-night stands preparing to enter Metavers. In fact, the fear of being caught off guard was so great that even Apple seemed to be rushing to respond, with rumours emerging of the development of a Metaverse alternative specifically for the iOS ecosystem.
For its part, just a year ago Disney announced through the voice of former CEO Bob Chapek a plan to develop new interactive ways to align Disney’s content offering with new trends in the technology industry. The new content offering was to be integrated with Disney+ memberships and other services related to retail operations at Disney theme parks.
Highly optimistic about the chances of success, Chapek promised to “combine…physical and digital experiences” in the Metaverse ecosystem, which he called “the next frontier of storytelling.”
While it doesn’t necessarily imply a definitive abandonment of ambitions for Metaverse, the decision made by new Disney CEO Bob Iger seems to indicate the preparation of a new direction for the company. For example, services based on ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence technologies could be particularly “effective” in facilitating a more interactive and engaging Disney experience for children.