Disney: The Metaverse, Digital Transformation and the Future of Storytelling

Disney: The Metaverse, Digital Transformation and the Future of Storytelling

The Walt Disney Company is one of the world’s best-known entertainment brands and is responsible for some of the most beloved children’s stories of all time. For this reason, the much-hyped concept of the metaverse – immersive and experiential online environments ripe with potential for magic and storytelling – is a perfect fit for its business strategy.

Disney’s intellectual property includes Marvel, Star Wars, its vast library of animated films dating back more than 60 years, and beloved children’s brands such as Disney Princesses and Disney Villains. It stands to reason that any sort of shared online digital universe focusing on these worlds and characters would most likely be a huge source of income for “the house of mouse”. While specific details on this are currently scarce, it would seem pretty sure he’s up to something along these lines!

In addition to movies, TV shows and cartoons, the legendary entertainment brand is of course famous for its resorts and theme parks. This ability to bring fantasy to life in the real world is also neatly tied to the Metaverse, which many believe will focus on blending the real and the virtual. For these reasons, Disney is probably one of the companies best positioned to capitalize on the opportunities offered by connected, immersive, and persistent virtual worlds. So here’s a look at some of the ways we know or expect him to jump on this exciting new trend.

Gather the team

To create metaverse opportunities, you need people in place. Disney showed it was working on this with the appointment of its first “Metaverse leader,” Mike White, to begin building the Metaverse strategy. Mike’s title is SVP of Next-Gen Storytelling and Customer Experiences, and it is believed he will focus on understanding the potential of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and other technologies. aligned with the metaverse. What these technologies offer Disney and other entertainment and media conglomerates is a whole new set of tools to create new audience experiences. Disney has traditionally always looked to the future and was quick to skip the arrival of previous revolutionary breakthroughs such as the arrival of television, computer-generated animation, video games and the Internet, so there’s no reason for him to treat the coming age of virtual reality and the metaverse any differently.

Other new Disney hires hinting at the potential she sees in this technology include Erin Green, formerly head of communications for mixed reality (MR) research at Meta (Facebook). Hiring senior executives at this level shows that Disney is serious about establishing itself as a key player in the metaverse industry — an industry that is predicted to be worth up to $13 trillion by 2030. On top of that, Disney was also highlighted as the company with the most interest in hiring AR and VR staff during the first quarter of 2022.

Next generation storytelling

Storytelling is at the heart of everything that has made Disney great, and it makes sense that it’s the keystone of its metaverse strategy. However, when people think of Disney stories, they are more likely to think first of the passive experiences of its movies and TV shows. However, CEO Bob Chapek has made it clear that he intends to change that, having recently said on an earnings call: “We realize this will be less of a passive type experience where you only get to read, whether it’s a sports event or if it’s an entertainment offering and more of an interactive, forward-leaning, actively engaged type experience.

A number of virtual reality experiences have already been created based on Disney properties, perhaps most notably Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars themed experience. While this isn’t a true, single-player, metaverse experience, it does show that Disney is serious about the potential of VR. Some have suggested that recent trademark applications suggest that a Marvel-branded metaverse experience is also in development and could be unveiled soon.

Blockchain and NFTs

Many fans of the metaverse concept believe that blockchains and related technologies such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will play an important role in the new worlds being built. This is because they allow virtual worlds (and anything virtual, for that matter) to be built with some degree of decentralization – without centralized control from any authority. In Disney’s case, it would probably want to retain centralized control of its own digital environments – if it was to create a virtual theme park, for example. But NFTs, in particular, also have the potential to create unique digital collectibles and limited-edition virtual assets. All the things that fans of Disney brands appreciate! The company has already created a series of NFTs called Golden Moments, celebrating some of its most beloved characters and moments from its movies. Unlike the wide range of traditional, physical collectibles the company sells, these are designed to continue to generate revenue for the company. Through “smart contract” functionality that can be incorporated into NFTs, a six percent fee is levied by Disney each time they are traded or resold among fans and collectors.

Theme parks and virtual worlds

Chapek said, “We have something no one else has…our parks. If the metaverse is the blending of the physical and the digital into one environment, who can do it better than Disney?

In fact, this mix has been going on for a while – visitors to Disney parks, resorts, hotels and cruise ships have long been able to enjoy “magic” wristbands that can be used to unlock a variety of virtual and real-life items. global interactions, as well as store credits that can be used for purchases in stores and restaurants. He also created a virtual assistant-like app called Genie, which helps you plan your visit and can create a personalized itinerary, so visitors don’t miss the attractions they’re most likely to enjoy.

These could be considered the initial building blocks of a metaverse plan that includes theme parks. Other clues could be found in a recent patent application. This hints that the company is interested in creating AR environments that don’t require users to wear headsets. Depending on the app, this would involve a technology known as SLAM – Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. This would theoretically allow the movements of guests to be tracked in a real environment – ​​a theme park, for example – and the use of spotlights to bring the characters to life before their eyes. Similar technology is already being used at live shows and parades in parks; the difference here is that the visuals will be personalized for specific visitors, creating a unique experience for the individual.

Disney and the Metaverse – A Perfect Match?

So while concrete details about Disney’s plans for the Metaverse are, at the time of writing, scarce, it seems clear that plans of one kind or another are in the works. Through savvy marketing and sales skills and a deep understanding of its own strengths and weaknesses, Disney has achieved the remarkable feat of remaining just as relevant to today’s Gen Z kids as it was. for the baby boomer generation that has made it a household name. Over the past few years, headline-grabbing acquisitions like Marvel and Lucasfilm have given it custody of enduring favorite brands and characters that are ripe to be adapted for new tech-driven storytelling experiences. Together, these factors ensure that the House of Mouse is well positioned to play a leading role in the development of the Metaverse.

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