If you were hoping to get some real estate in Toontown or get married at digital Disneyland or something along those strange virtual lines, well, you’re out of luck. Disney is getting out of the metaverse business, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Once and future CEO Bob Iger has shut down the division in charge of the company’s metaverse dreams as part of a series of planned layoffs that will cut about 7,000 total jobs at the company.
The division was specifically titled the “Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences group,” headed by Disney veteran Mike White (who, by the by, is reportedly staying with the company while the other 50 members have lost their jobs, per WSJ). White was in charge for about a year, and what metaversal strategies he and the team were cooking up is unclear. WSJ has a lot of jargon on offer, including that they were “tasked with finding ways to tell interactive stories in new technological formats using Disney’s extensive library of intellectual property,” per sources in the know, and that ousted CEO Bob Chapek’s stated goal was to “create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories,” per an internal memo. According to the outlet, Disney was looking at metaverse applications for “fantasy sports, theme-park attractions and other consumer experiences,” which is a pretty wide umbrella.
Doesn’t sound like they made much headway on those vague goals, nor with a proposed Amazon Prime-esque platform to combine streaming, retail, and theme park-related apps. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that this is where Disney chose to (begin to) cut its losses. Better to bow out now than launch a costly, unpopular metaverse that makes your company into a laughingstock, right?