Mickey Mouse ditches the metaverse

The metaverse might be the next digital media frontier, but Disney has decided to stay put in its Magic Kingdom for now.

What happened: The House of Mouse shut down its Next Generation Storytelling & Consumer Experiences unit, the team set up to develop Disney’s metaverse strategy.

Why it matters: A gloomy economy is forcing businesses to consider whether the nebulous metaverse is still a worthy investment. Disney has joined the ranks of corporate giants that have decided, maybe not so much.

  • Tinder left the metaverse last summer, abandoning construction on a virtual “Single Town” that would let users mingle through digital avatars.

  • Microsoft laid off its 100-person Industrial Metaverse Core team last month, as well as staff working on a “mixed reality” development kit and a virtual workspace project.

  • Tencent has reportedly given up on an “extended reality” project that wasn’t expected to become profitable until 2027.

Yes, but: Some are still bullish on the metaverse. Marriott has been experimenting with tech to let customers explore virtual replicas of its hotels, Honda design teams have been holding VR meetings, and Mark Zuckerberg insists the metaverse will be huge in five to ten years.

What’s next: Apple and Meta are both reportedly planning to launch new headsets this year, and their market reception will be an important test for companies still betting on the metaverse.—AP