Disney And Microsoft Shutting Down Metaverse Projects

Slow user adoption, driven in part by expensive hardware requirements and glitchy technology, as well as deteriorating economic conditions, has forced Disney and Microsoft to shut down their Metaverse projects.

The metaverse, the virtual world that was the hot thing in tech less than two years ago, is facing a harsher reality.

Walt Disney Co. has shut down the division that was developing its metaverse strategies, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Microsoft Corp. recently shut down a social virtual-reality platform it acquired in 2017. And Mark Zuckerberg, who renamed Facebook as Meta Platforms Inc. to signal his seriousness about the metaverse, focused more on artificial intelligence on an earnings call last month. 

Meanwhile, the price for virtual real estate in some online worlds, where users can hang out as avatars, has cratered. The median sale price for land in Decentraland has declined almost 90% from a year ago, according to WeMeta, a site that tracks land sales in the metaverse.

Meta’s name change in October 2021 spurred excitement about metaverse experiences, products and platforms. But slow user adoption, driven in part by expensive hardware requirements and glitchy tech, and deteriorating economic conditions have put a damper on expectations the metaverse will drive meaningful revenue soon. 

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The price for virtual real estate in some online worlds, where users can hang out as avatars, has cratered.

“What many people are coming to realize is that this transformation is farther away,” said Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist and author of a book about the metaverse.

Tech companies have been slashing jobs and abandoning projects deemed nonessential. Mr. Zuckerberg, who championed the metaverse as the next iteration of the mobile internet a mere 18 months ago, dubbed 2023 “the year of efficiency.” His company laid off 11,000 employees in the fall and said this month that it would cut a further 10,000 positions and various projects, including some that are based in its metaverse division, the Journal previously reported.

The Fiat Metaverse Store, unveiled in January at CES, was developed in collaboration with Microsoft and software firm Touchcast, which uses AI and ChatGPT to sell cars in the metaverse.

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