Meta is testing new features for creators to earn money in Horizon Worlds, the company’s social metaverse platform for Quest VR headsets that will soon be coming to cell phones and possibly game consoles.
In particular, a “handful” of Horizon creators will be able to sell virtual objects and effects in the worlds they create for others to explore. The idea is that creators will be able to sell everything from access to a VIP section of their world to virtual items such as jewelry or a special basketball, according to Meaghan Fitzgerald, Horizon’s director of product marketing. Participants in the U.S. will also be able to win money from a $10 million creator fund that Meta recently created to reward creators with the best-looking worlds.
With this “in-world shopping” test, Meta is following in the footsteps of other 3D social platforms such as Roblox and Rec Room, which allow creators to sell the objects they create. Roblox has built a large business out of this model, while Rec Room is growing rapidly and prioritizing monetization for creators as well.
Meta will take a cut of whatever creators sell, although the exact amount they take is a bit complex. In the case of Horizon purchases, Meta takes 25% of the percentage left after the platform fee. For platforms with a 30% fee, such as Meta’s own Quest Store for VR titles, the creator will take just over half of the sale price (the estimate is that Meta takes 25% of the 70%).
“We think that’s a pretty competitive rate in the market,” Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon, tells The Verge, adding that “we believe in the other platforms being able to have their share.” (Still, Meta has repeatedly slammed Apple’s 30 percent capture rate as too aggressive for the iPhone ecosystem and has intentionally lowered its rate on mobile for certain in-app purchases.)
Currently, Horizon has no advertising beyond a recent Wendy’s-themed world that’s cross-referenced as the “Wendyverse.” While the focus now is on monetization for creators, ads “may be an area we want to explore in the future,” Fitzgerald says.
Meta is also launching a “goal bonus program” to encourage creators to use its tools and build their worlds. These bonuses will be non-quota and paid in full. They are determined largely based on how much participation a creator’s world receives, according to Sharma.
Creators using in-world purchases and availing themselves of creator bonuses will be required to comply with the company’s VR conduct policy and the prohibited content policy for Horizon Worlds. Fitzgerald says creators who do not follow those rules will be removed from the program.
Meta is working on a web version of its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform
The company is also planning to take it mobile
Meta is planning to bring its Horizon Worlds social metaverse platform to the web, Meta’s chief technology officer Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said in a tweet Thursday. Making it available on the web would be a major expansion of the platform, which is currently only available on its Quest VR headset.
Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon, said that it is working to bring Horizon to mobile later this year and is in “early talks” to bring it to gaming consoles. However, it’s still unclear when Horizon will roll out to the web, and Meta spokesperson Iska Saric said there are “no timing details to share at this time” when asked.
Boz’s tweet was included in a thread defending Horizon’s recently announced fee structure for creators, which has come under some scrutiny. On Tuesday, Meta revealed that for Horizon purchases, it would take 25 percent of whatever percentage was left over after platform fees.
In the case of Horizon’s web application, this means Meta would only keep 25 percent, as Boz pointed out. But for platforms with a 30 percent fee, such as Meta’s own Quest Store, it would take 25 percent of the 70 percent. This means that for products sold on Horizon on a Quest VR device, Meta would keep a whopping 47.5 percent of each transaction.
We’re making good on our goal to ensure that developers have a path to real financial success on our platform. It’s early days, there is still a lot of work to be done and we continue to partner closely with our creators and developers to enable them to earn meaningful revenue.
— Boz (@boztank) April 14, 2022
Boz claims that rate is lower than other “world-building platforms,” a jab that appears to be aimed in part at Roblox, which has also come under fire for how it pays developers. In a chart showing “estimated utilization of every dollar spent on Roblox,” Roblox indicates that it pays developers only 28.1 percent of every dollar, meaning that Meta Horizon’s cut of even Quest headset purchases appears to be less than what Roblox takes in on its platform. And as it expands from VR to platforms like mobile and web, Meta will be taking on Roblox head-on, so this may not be the last time we see Meta target Roblox.
Meta has also often criticized Apple for taking 30 percent of App Store transactions – Boz did so in his thread on Thursday as well – and Apple had some of its own sharp language for Meta. “Meta has repeatedly taken aim at Apple for charging developers a 30 percent commission for purchases within the App Store – and they’ve used small businesses and creators as a scapegoat throughout,” Apple spokesman Fred Sainz told MarketWatch.
“Meta intends to charge those same creators significantly more than any other platform. Meta’s] announcement lays bare Meta’s hypocrisy. It shows that, while they seek to use Apple’s platform for free, they gleefully take advantage of creators and small businesses that use theirs.”