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The metaverse: What is it? – TechRepublic

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Is the metaverse the same as VR? Which companies are building the metaverse? What is the metaverse’s connection to hybrid work? Get answers to these questions and much more in this metaverse primer.

Is metaverse the latest easily dismissed buzzword or a new platform you might have to understand? That’s the most important question right now. The easiest answer is “vaporware,” but that ignores the business reality of 2021. The biggest tech companies are pouring a lot of money into this next iteration of the internet, and the building blocks of the metaverse are available on the market.
Here is a look at what the metaverse is, why it’s relevant to your work and what components you can experience right now.
SEE: Metaverse cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
The metaverse is a vision for a new place to interact with other humans and bots to play games, conduct business, socialize and shop. That’s the metaverse of the future. Right now, the metaverse is a grab bag of hardware, software and unrelated experiences. You likely have seen one piece of the metaverse in a standalone form, as a game or maybe a training session. There is no connective tissue to bring all these components together — yet. 
If you’ve played Pokemon Go and caught a creature that you can only see via your phone, that’s augmented reality (or location-based entertainment, if you want to get picky about it). 
Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms are an example of mixed reality. You use the Oculus Quest 2 to join a virtual office space, but you also can see your hands and your keyboard. Also, colleagues not joining the meeting via a VR headset can join via a video feed that shows up in the virtual world just as it would in a live conference room.
A Horizon Workroom can hold 16 people in the virtual space and 34 more people can join via video conference.
With the virtual office platform Virbela, you navigate an office in the cloud with a full-body avatar via your keyboard. The platform uses directional sound, which means that a person’s voice changes as he or she moves closer to your avatar or farther away. The experience is not quite like a video game but it definitely feels like a new space for interacting with colleagues.
If you’ve played Animal Crossing or Fortnite, those online worlds give a hint of what the metaverse could look like. You’ll be able to build your own world or visit someone else’s in your true-to-life form or in a completely new shape.
Companies and military trainers are using virtual reality and augmented reality for training as well. Penske Truck Leasing uses the XR Mentor training platform to train technicians and support them in the field. Instructors live stream classes to students, and students can use assisted reality devices to refer to training documents when working on vehicles.
It is possible to buy real estate in virtual worlds, such as Decentraland and Cryptovoxels, although those are definitely the world of early adopters. If you’ve made it as far as buying cryptocurrency or NFTs, you’ve also gotten a taste of the metaverse.
The difference between these experiences and the full-on metaverse is the physical sensation of being in another place and sharing it with other people. For most of these experiences, you are interacting with the online world through a controller or other piece of hardware. Although VR worlds are immersive, the headsets are still awkward, which currently defines the entire experience as something out of the ordinary. 
SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides
Adam Compton, director of strategy for Schneider Electric, sees the metaverse as a fully immersive, partially real life, partially digital experience that runs in parallel with the physical world. “It’s something that we don’t recognize when we’re stepping in and out of the two spaces,” he said.
Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders imagine a very different metaverse when they talk about it. The metaverse currently under development would be right next to reality and always on. It would have its own currency and objects in the metaverse would be interoperable–for instance, you could wear a hoodie bought in one corner of the metaverse in every other spot you visit.
World leaders and individuals are starting to recognize the downside of one company running a giant social experiment, such as Facebook. It’s easy to imagine the biases that are built into algorithms showing up in the metaverse as well. Figuring out ethics for AI will be a good training ground for making sure that the metaverse is equally accessible to everyone and that there’s no automatic penalty for a thin bank account or a slow internet connection.
Facebook announced in September 2021 a $50 million investment designed to avoid the mistakes of the past while building the metaverse. The company will work with Howard University, Seoul National University and the University of Hong Kong to study safety, ethics, equity and design concepts for the metaverse.
Some of these terms are used interchangeably. Some experiences mix the various versions of reality; for instance, Horizon Workrooms require an Oculus Quest 2 headset to join a virtual meeting, but colleagues can also join via video conference. 
Assisted reality: This refers to any technology that allows a person to view a screen and use hands-free controls to interact with it. Realwear devices fit in this category.
Augmented reality: This technology uses the real world as the setting and adds computer-generated images to this view. Retailers use this to show how a new sofa would look in a customer’s living room.
Meatspace: This is the physical world where most of us spend most of our time. 
Mixed reality: This term describes a view of the real world with the addition of virtual objects that look and act like real objects. Users can interact with both virtual objects and real ones. 
Multiverse: The general definition this term generally refers to many distinct universes operating independently of each other. In a tech/internet/social media context, this is Facebook, Minecraft, Instagram, Twitch, Roblox, Fortnite, Discord and all the other virtual social media and gaming places where people socialize, play and shop. In theory, the metaverse could bring all these multiverses into one place 
Virtual reality: This is an immersive experience that requires a headset. There are VR games that take users to different worlds as well as training sessions that are set in the real world.
“Calling the metaverse virtual reality is like saying the mobile internet is an app.”
That’s how venture capitalist Matthew Ball explained it during a conversation with Gene Park and Shanon Liao from the Washington Post. Ball wrote a blog post about the metaverse in January 2020 as he saw the “pieces” of the metaverse become more real. In June 2021, Ball expanded his thoughts on the metaverse with a nine-part primer that covers a framework, hardware, networking, computer, virtual platforms, payments, content services and evolving user behaviors.
Ball initially wrote about the metaverse to explain why the last year or so has been a turning point for virtual reality. He saw the worldbuilding of Fortnite and the growing popularity of the game as significant milestones for the metaverse. 
“In 2018, you could really start to see that this was not a game, it was something quite different,” he said. “It was taking ideas that had been slowly growing for quite some time and then changing them in a way that feels critically different.”
He compared these developments to the way that the iPhone and the app store represented game-changing moments for the mobile internet. “You could tell that the mobile internet, something that had existed for 15 years, was entering a new phase,” he said. “Fortnite felt a lot like that to me, Roblox was feeling a lot like that to me.”
Ball also mentioned recent comments from Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, who tweets frequently about the metaverse. Sweeney had shared code from Unreal from the ’90s to illustrate that people have been thinking about virtual spaces as social spaces for economies for decades.  
“His point was that it was only in the last few years that not just have the experiences emerged to bring that to fruition but the core underlying technologies required started to be real and not science fiction,” Ball said in the conversation with the Post. 
Ball said it’s a mistake to use inconsistent definitions of the metaverse as proof that the idea is just the latest buzzword.
“If the metaverse were crisply known and codified, it would not be so disruptive,” he said in the conversation with the Washington Post reporters. “Clarity is the antithesis of change.”
Ideally, you won’t need a headset in the metaverse at some point in the future when that iteration arrives. In 2021, you need an Oculus Quest 2, a Rift S or a Sony PlayStation VR or a HTC Vive to play virtual reality games. If you need to take a training class in virtual reality or augmented reality, you’ll need Microsoft’s HoloLens or one of Lenovo’s headsets. VRFocus named the Magic Leap the best enterprise solution in its 2020 “Better-Than-Reality Awards” for its spatial computing collaboration package. Magic Leap and VMWare just announced a partnership that includes support for the Workspace ONE XR Hub on Magic Leap 2.  
When all the parts and pieces mature, Gil Elbaz, CTO and co-founder of Datagen, predicts that people will want AR glasses instead of a MacBook Pro or even a cell phone. VR devices could replace TVs and computers. “It’s going to turn into one device, we’re just technically not ready for it yet,” he said, adding that it will take three to five years for devices to get to some level of maturity. “It’s a smart investment but it is a long-term investment,” he said. 
Facebook’s Reality Labs Research is working to improve the form factor of VR hardware. The team sees wristbands and glasses as interfaces for AR that “won’t force us to choose between interacting with our devices and the world around us.” The lab is also developing a VR headset that makes the user’s eyes visible to other people in the room.
Lenovo’s AR/VR product line includes smartglasses, monocular and binocular devices. The company’s ThinkReality platform includes a software development kit, cloud and device services.
Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses have multiple cameras, integrated speakers and microphones, binocular 1080p resolution displays and software that runs voice, object and image recognition, reads barcodes and includes head/gaze tracking. Factory and repair technicians use the devices during training and also to get guidance from experts when working on site. 
If you are responsible for training or if you work in the manufacturing sector, you’ll be among the first to work with the building blocks of the metaverse. Nathan Pettyjohn, commercial AR/VR lead of the Lenovo intelligent devices group, said manufacturing is the number one vertical for Lenovo’s AR/VR product line, particularly companies that want their field workers or people in the warehouse to have hands free assistance through augmented reality.
“For an industrial worker who needs their hands free, they can use voice commands to pull up schematics and blueprints without touching the device,” he said.
Lenovo’s Think Reality A3 device is designed for mixed reality experiences, such as a technician using an online tutorial while repairing a machine. The smartglasses provide hands-free operation and can overlay digital objects onto physical ones.
“You can look over at what you’re working on and the digital content stays out of your view, but then you can turn back to the guidance when you need to,” he said.
Lenovo also has a partnership with Realwear, a company that makes an assisted reality device designed for technical work.
“It’s like putting an Android tablet in front of your eye,” he said. “Also, it’s an all-in-one device so you’re not tethered to a compute box or a phone.” 
Lenovo’s goal with the ThinkReality platform is to be hardware agnostic for all the company’s AR/VR customers. 
“The software platform allows customers to manage Lenovo or third party devices as well as applications and users,” he said. 
Pettyjohn has been working with augmented reality and virtual reality for more than 10 years. He is the founder and president of The AR/VR Association, a group with 21 chapters in the U.S., four in Canada, 15 in Europe, seven in Asia, two in the Middle East and one each in Africa, South America, and Australia. The group has weekly online meetings and 22 committees that cover 20 industry verticals ranging from energy and real estate to story-telling and location-based entertainment.
Pettyjohn said that the AR/VR market has the potential to grow to more than $1 billion for Lenovo.
As the debate rages about remote work, hybrid schedules and in-person work, virtual reality and offices in the cloud could be a way to create a common experience for all employees, regardless of where they are physically located. Forrester’s recent report, “Your Virtual Office in the Cloud,” suggests that creating an office in a virtual setting could be an antidote to Zoom fatigue. Benefits could include:
Replicating the in-person office experience.
Creating a shared experience and reinforcing corporate values.
Developing a shared culture.
Ending the open office plan vs. private office debate.
New and established companies are already trying out this kind of virtual space. Accenture has an Nth floor, a virtual space that connects the company’s 500,000 employees and customers in virtual meeting rooms and event spaces. 
eXp Realty is a remote-first company that has about 60,000 agents in 17 countries but no physical headquarters. Instead the company operates in a “cloud-based campus,” doing everything from recruiting agents to holding board meetings in a virtual office.
The metaverse will need a massive technological infrastructure, ranging from compute power to edge computing to 3D imaging to content to finance and commerce systems. And, as the metaverse is seen as the next iteration of the internet, every company that has an internet presence will want to stake a claim in the metaverse as well. 
Ball, the venture capitalist interested in the metaverse, also is a co-founder of Ball Metaverse Research Partners, which maintains the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange. The top 10 holdings in the exchange are:
Nvidia Corporation
Microsoft Corp.
Roblox Corp.
Facebook Inc.
Unity Software Inc.
Snap, Inc.
Autodesk Inc.
Amazon Com Inc.
Tencent HLDGS LTD
Sea LTD
Sea is a consumer internet company that includes entertainment, e-commerce and digital financial services. Tencent Holdings is a multinational internet company based in China. 
Apple, Intel, Qualcomm, Alphabet, Coinbase, Electronic Arts, Samsung, Adobe, Alibaba, Disney, PayPal and Square are also in the fund.  
Training is one of the more common use cases. Entertainment is one of the first industries to offer virtual reality experiences for customers, while manufacturing and healthcare have been among the first to incorporate mixed reality and augmented reality experiences for employees. 
Here are a few examples of how companies are using the building blocks of the metaverse today to conduct remote training and create new products and services.
At the game company Unity, Peter Moore is the head of the sports and live entertainment and recently launched Unity Metacast. This platform will mirror professional sports in 3D in real time. 
Cameras capture athletes on the field and the data is used to create digital twins. The first 3D broadcast was a match between two mixed martial arts fighters filmed in a small arena with 106 cameras. Moore told the Financial Times that he expects to expand the technology to fewer cameras and bigger playing spaces. Capturing life action and digitizing it immediately could make it easier to create NFTs from memorable moments from games. The NBA’s approach to NFTs–Top Shots cards–could expand to other sports.  
Doctors have been one of the first groups to use AR for collaboration. Microsoft’s mixed reality headsets are also enabling medical professionals from around the globe to virtually collaborate during procedures for a 21st century take on surgical operations. Surgeons can operate Microsoft’s HoloLens with hand gestures and voice commands to bring up 3D images from scans, access patient data and contact other specialists. This hands-free control is a significant benefit to the hardware for doctors and other healthcare professionals.
NASA uses AR and VR aboard the space station for remote control of robots or to complete maintenance tasks with an AR assist. In one particular project, astronaut Scott Kelly used a Microsoft HoloLens headset to conduct ISS training and do future mission prep. During these tests, a member of mission control on Earth streamed Kelly’s field of view via the headset and also drew images rendered in 3D on the astronaut’s HoloLens display.
Astronaut Scott Kelly wearing a HoloLens headset on the International Space Station.
Elbaz of Datagen said it’s still very early days for the metaverse because the software and devices are not ready, VR is still in the early stages of development and AR is not even that far along yet. “We haven’t found a useful application for it internally and we deal with 3D all the time,” he said. 
Adam Compton, director of strategy for Schneider Electric, said that gaming and entertainment will continue to be the tip of the spear for virtual experiences. “Early adopters tend to find the easiest path and follow that, and that gets people used to it and then something else comes along for a different application for the same technology,” he said. 
Right now learning of all kinds is the most applicable use case for VR, he said. This includes learning how to use or repair a product, how to complete a maintenance procedure, or simply learning a new skill. 
“This could be a differentiator for some companies, in that they’re going to sell you this thing, but also going to make sure you are using it right,” he said.
Compton sees the current workforce as one barrier to the metaverse. The metaverse will require extensive compute power, not to mention enough engineers, designers and network admins to keep it running. 
“The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that annual job postings for cloud engineers in data centers have gone up 90% in the last year and they can’t fill them,” he said. “Without the human workforce to standardize the infrastructure, engineer it, deploy and maintain it, that will be a big gating factor.”
Another gating factor is a robust edge computing infrastructure. Compton said that the metaverse will benefit from smart city networks.
“Some cities are talking about putting high bandwidth capable microdata centers into public places to make smart city initiatives possible,” he said. “All of these things are coming along now that will help this infrastructure be ready in the future.”
Compton said that using VR now for training, customer care and marketing are good use cases for companies who want to test out the technology now. 
Compton said Schneider has used VR to give tours of modern data centers with a 360-degree view of the facility and to create other immersive experiences for customers.  
“I don’t think it will break away from fringe usage and specifically entertainment and gaming in the next five years,” he said.
At Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was changing Facebook’s name to Meta. He said this reflected the company’s new focus on the next iteration of the mobile internet. Zuckerberg sees interoperability, open standards and contributions from thousands of creators and software developers as the keys to success for this new “place” that really doesn’t exist yet. 
The company plans to invest $150 million in a fund to train people to build the metaverse and to subsidize devices that people will use to access the metaverse. Zuckerberg also said that the company plans to invest billions of dollars over the next decade to build the metaverse.
At the event, company executives announced plans for new SDKs for the mixed reality Spark platform as well as Horizon. This is the company’s virtual reality platform that runs on Oculus Quest with options for both Home and Office environments. Zuckerberg also announced that in the near future the company will no longer require users to have a Facebook account to use the Quest.
He made no mention of the latest questions about Facebook’s ethics and business practices. A whistleblower who released thousands of internal documents claims that the company’s own research identified how people can become radicalized on the platform. Numerous news organizations have analyzed the Facebook Papers and found that Zuckerberg is personally involved in many content moderation decisions. This creates two sets of rules and seems to allow some groups and individuals to publish violent content and hate speech that the company claims to ban from the platform.
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Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis…
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Lamina1 Presents Inaugural “Open Metaverse Conference” Connecting the Worlds of Blockchain and the Metaverse for a Next-Gen Internet – Business Wire

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Featuring a keynote from co-founder and futurist Neal Stephenson, the first-of-its-kind event aims to empower creators and coders to build the Open Metaverse together
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Lamina1, a Layer 1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse, today announced its role as founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, a first-of-its-kind industry event bringing together the worlds of the Metaverse and Web3 to build a more open and immersive Internet. The two-day conference will take place from February 8-9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, and will gather experts and builders spanning Metaverse experiences, Web3, and entertainment.

Co-founded by Neal Stephenson, renowned futurist and science fiction author who originally coined the term “Metaverse,” and cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes, founder of the first VC-backed Bitcoin company, Lamina1 will provide the infrastructure to empower rapid expansion of the Open Metaverse. As the founding sponsor of the Open Metaverse Conference, Lamina1 will provide a forum for critical conversations around identity, privacy and interoperability, while exploring how audience engagement, creative storytelling, and the technicalities of blockchain can work hand-in-hand to make the vision of the Open Metaverse a reality.
The Open Metaverse Conference will feature keynotes from renowned technologists and storytellers who are pioneering visions for the next era of the Internet. Attendees will hear from Lamina1 co-founders Neal Stephenson and Peter Vessenes, as well as Philip Rosedale, founder of virtual world Second Life (Linden Lab) and co-founder of virtual platform High Fidelity, John Gaeta, Oscar-winning VFX pioneer (The Matrix) and CCO of character persona company Inworld AI, Cathy Hackl, Metaverse and Web3 strategist and founder of design consultancy Journey, and other industry crossover leaders to be announced. Keynote sessions will be complemented by diverse speakers and side events spanning games, art, entertainment, and commerce. To connect these key areas of culture with the technology that enables them, the Open Metaverse Conference will also facilitate technological deep dives for attendees from leaders in Web3, immersive computing, and technology standards groups. Presenting partners include the Metaverse Standards Forum, the Open Metaverse Interoperability Group, and the Open Metaverse Alliance for Web3 (OMA3), all organizations fostering interoperability.
“We are at a moment in time when developers, creatives, and producers can finally design the seamless and persistent experiences we’ve dreamed about,” said Jamil Moledina, Vice President of Games Partnerships and Media at Lamina1. “The Open Metaverse Conference will serve as the big tent for everyone who’s thinking about creating never-before-possible experiences that allow creators and consumers to enter unique virtual worlds on a level playing field.”
“OMA3 is pleased to collaborate with Lamina1 and the Open Metaverse Conference in promoting interoperability,” said Robby Yung, CEO of Animoca Brands. “OMA3 looks forward to developing talk tracks to encourage the creation of a more open and immersive internet.”
The conference will encourage interdisciplinary dialogue through debates, pitch sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities to help drive new ideas and connections.
“We felt a real sense of urgency to facilitate discussion with our colleagues and creators across the spectrum,” said Rebecca Barkin, President of Lamina1. “We know that the Open Metaverse will be built collaboratively and with a set of shared values, and we’re happy to provide this forum to address the needs of the community and to solve big problems together.”
For more information on the Open Metaverse Conference, visit www.openmetaverseconf.com.
About Open Metaverse Conference 
The Open Metaverse Conference (OMC) is an industry-first event presented by Lamina1 focused on bringing together the Metaverse and blockchain technology. The conference gathers key stakeholders spanning developers, creatives, producers, product owners, and executives to ask and address big questions around the development of a truly Open Metaverse that leverages open-source, collaborative principles and blockchain decentralization.
About Lamina1 
Lamina1 is a Layer1 blockchain optimized for the Open Metaverse. The brainchild of legendary futurist Neal Stephenson (who first conceptualized the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 best-selling novel Snow Crash) and Peter Vessenes, a foundational leader in the crypto space from the early days of Bitcoin – Lamina1 is on a mission to deliver the blockchain technology, interoperating tools, and decentralized services that will establish it as the preferred destination for creators building a more immersive Internet. It is the first provably carbon-negative blockchain in the world.
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Facebook Founder, Zuckerberg Drops Out Of 10 Richest Men After Losing Half Of Fortunes – SaharaReporters.com

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According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
 
Meta chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg has lost his spot in the list as one of the 10 richest people in America.
According to Forbes, the Facebook founder has lost more than half his fortune—a staggering $76.8 billion—since September 2021, dropping him from No. 3 on The Forbes 400 list of the U.S.’ wealthiest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list.
Zuck trails Walmart heir Jim Walton, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and other tech moguls such as ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. No one in America has lost as much money over the past year as Zuckerberg.
He has the cratering stock price of Meta (formerly Facebook) to thank for his exit from the top 10. Shares have plunged 57% since last year’s Forbes 400, which used stock prices from September 3, 2021. Tech stocks are generally in a slump with the market downturn, but Meta’s fall outpaces both the Nasdaq (-9.8%) and the S&P 500 (-13.5%), as well as Microsoft’s 14% decline, Google-parent Alphabet‘s 25% drop and Amazon’s 27% dive.
Investors are spooked by a privacy policy update from Apple last year that made it harder for tech companies to track users across apps, impacting Meta’s ad sales. Meta reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline in July–a 1% drop, to $28.8 billion.
“Facebook makes most of its money from advertising, and now it just doesn’t have that data anymore,” says Mark Zgutowicz, an analyst at research and investment banking firm Benchmark.
“All those data signals went away, which basically means that advertisers are having trouble telling whether a campaign was successful or not.”
Compounding the problem for Meta, TikTok is luring away advertisers, along with lucrative Gen Z and millennial users. In February, Meta announced its first-ever quarterly loss of daily active users. A recent internal report showed that Meta’s TikTok clone, Instagram Reels, is struggling to compete, according to Wall Street Journal report.
Under normal circumstances, a slight dip in revenue might be manageable, but Meta is also investing heavily in virtual reality and the metaverse, which is dragging down operating profit. In 2021, the company’s metaverse division, Meta Reality Labs, lost $10 billion. While the metaverse is all Zuckerberg wants to talk about, investors are less enthusiastic so far. “It’s a long tail investment and, for now, it’s kind of a cash suck,” Zgutowicz says.
Zuckerberg first became a billionaire in 2008, just four years after founding Facebook. At 23, he was the youngest self-made billionaire at the time, debuting at No. 321 on The Forbes 400, worth $1.5 billion. By 2011, Zuckerberg’s net worth had increased nearly 12 fold to $17.5 billion.
This year isn’t the first time Zuckerberg’s net worth has taken a dive. After Facebook’s famously disappointing IPO in 2012, Zuckerberg fell from No. 14 to No. 36 on The Forbes 400. But it didn’t last long. The following year, Zuckerberg bounced back and, up until now, his fortune has continued to climb. Despite the litany of controversies and scandals plaguing the company, Facebook’s ad machine had reliably churned out enough money to impress investors, sending Zuckerberg’s net worth soaring to $134.5 billion last year, his highest net worth ever.
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Disney CEO Bob Chapek plotting a metaverse for Disney+ that will recreate their parks online – Daily Mail

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By Alex Oliveira For Dailymail.Com
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Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park.
CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow ‘the 90 percent of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park,’ to experience it in virtual reality.
‘We call it next-gen storytelling’ Chapek said in an interview with Deadline, noting that he didn’t like use the phrase metaverse ‘because it has a lot of hair on it.’
But regardless of whatever Chapek prefers to call the planned platform, many have responded by calling the move out of touch with Disney’s fanbase, and argued that if the parks stopped hiking prices more people would be able to visit.  
The move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger, and keep afloat amid controversies ranging from the park’s rising prices, to Disney’s stance on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. 
Just last week, Chapek broke a months-long silence on an apology he issued in an attempt to quell Disney staff who were outraged by his failure to speak out against the controversial bill last spring, saying he chose to remain mum on the matter because he didn’t want to get Disney caught in a ‘political subterfuge.’ 
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the media giant’s metaverse would exist on its streaming platform, Disney+, and allow people to experience park rides in virtual reality
Disney’s metaverse move comes as Chapek – who took the helm at Disney in 2020 – struggles to make a name for himself in the shadow of his innovative predecessor, Bob Iger
Chapek characterized the Disney metaverse as a way to experience the theme parks for the multitudes of people who are unable to actually make the trip in person.
‘We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that’s not a reality for some people,’ he told Deadline, ‘we have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform to an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint.’
He said metaverse users would have an experience beyond what regular parkgoers have, and be able to step out of the ride-cars to explore sets and interact with characters. 
‘Maybe we’ll give them the opportunity what every single person in the park wants to do, and unfortunately too many of them do it, just to get off the attraction. See how it works, see how those ghost dancers move,’ he said. 

But many responded to the news by saying if Disney would just stop raising its prices, more of those 90 percent of people who cannot visit the parks would be able to.
‘Damn Disney. Just say it direct like that,’ wrote tech critic Juan Carlos Bagnell on Twitter, ‘90% of the HUMAN POPULATION is too poor to visit our parks, but hopefully some are less-poor-enough to own VR goggles and ride our rides in a metaverse clone…’
Commenters on the Deadline interview were equally unimpressed, with one saying ‘The reason 90% of people may not be able to experience the parks is because you keep hiking the cost of GOING to the parks beyond what most people can actually afford, Bob.’
‘Costs are up at the parks. Moral appears to be down. Iger had imagination and could adapt,’ said another.

Disney park prices have skyrocketed since Chapek was fully given charge at Disney in 2022. At California parks, ticket prices jumped 6 percent to $164 for single-park passes, while the price of getting into more than one park over the course of a day rose 9 percent to $319.
At the Florida parks the price to get into the park after 2pm rose to $169, while before 2pm fans were asked to fork over $194. Those prices could also rise based on an increased demand on any day.
‘If you’re the kind of person that budgets or saves for vacations, Disney Parks aren’t for you any longer,’ wrote a fed-up customer on Reddit, ‘That’s a Premium Physical Experience, and there’s plenty of national and international wealthy families to afford going indefinitely.’
And in August, as inflation scorched the US economy, Chapek warned those prices could continue to rise.
‘It’s all up to the consumer,’ he said, according to The New York Post, ‘If consumer demand keeps up, we’ll act accordingly.’
Disney’s metaverse would allow people to experience park rides like the Haunted Mansion without ever setting foot in Disney World
Chapek noted the virtual reality experience could go beyond simply sitting in the car and experiencing the ride the way park-goers do, but would allow people to step off of the tracks and explore the ride sets up close
Chapek has hardly been the happiest CEO on Earth since he took the reins at Disney.
After beginning his tenure in February, 2020, he was thrust immediately into the chaos of navigating Disney through the perils of the pandemic, which saw the media company’s primary revenue streams – theme park revenue and movie theater tickets – vanish like a pair of glass slippers at midnight.
To help steady the ship, Iger – much to Chapek’s ire, reportedly – was kept on in a leadership position through 2021.
But as soon as Chapek was given full control in 2022 his price hikes had customers raising eyebrows about whether he was up to the same scratch as the visionary Iger.
Those doubts were doubled-down on by Disney staff after Chapek decided to remain quiet on Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill, a law which barred schools from discussing sexuality or gender with children between kindergarten and third grade.
Many Disney employees viewed the law as homophobic and an affront to the inclusive values of Disney, and publicly voiced their outrage that Chapek did not speak out against it.
Chapek said the metaverse would also work in conjunction with real-world visits to Disney theme parks
Disney is plotting a metaverse that would let people experience the most magical place on earth without ever setting foot in the theme park
He later apologized to staff, publicly decried the bill, and announced Disney had paused all its political donations within Florida.
Last week, Chapek addressed that apology for the first time since he issued it, saying he had struggled to balance the needs and beliefs of every one of his employees and customers.
‘What we try to do is be everything to everybody,’ Chapek told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, ‘That tends to be very difficult because we’re The Walt Disney Company.’
‘We certainly don’t want to get caught up in any political subterfuge, but at the same time we also realize that we want to represent a brighter tomorrow for families of all types, regardless of how they define themselves,’ he said.

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

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