Meta announces plans to monetize the Metaverse and the creators are not happy

Enlarge / A purchase confirmation dialog in Horizon Worlds.

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, announced some initial plans on Wednesday to allow content creators to monetize its wannabe Metaverse platform, Horizon Worlds. Meta’s projected revenue share for contributor creations could be close to 50 percent.

Horizon Worlds is a network of 3D shared spaces currently exclusive to Oculus Quest headsets. (Meta plans to bring it to mobile, gaming consoles, and desktop VR in the coming months and years.)

There are already people creating spaces for Horizon Worlds including a virtual yoga studio and a Second Life-like fast food branding integration in the form of the “Wendyverse”. But to date, Horizon Worlds hasn’t offered developers the tools to make a living creating that content like they could with similar services like Roblox.

That’s not to say creators didn’t make money; Some are paid for commissioned work outside of the meta system to create content that brands or other users can use. But Meta’s announcements paint a picture of what to expect.

First off, Horizon Worlds will support in-world purchases. A handful of creators will be able to sell virtual items from user-generated spaces. Meta also plans to launch a creator rewards program that will award creators money based on how much other users engage with their content.

All of this sounds like what you’d expect, but Meta caused a stir in AR/VR, NFT, and relevant online communities when it revealed details of how much revenue Meta will derive from each transaction.

When users buy an item in Horizon Worlds, Meta confirmed to CNBC that a 25 percent cut would be required — but that’s after any amount a hardware platform could take in. For now, that just means Meta’s Oculus Store being slashed by 30 percent. So content creators have to give 30 percent to the Oculus Store (or the equivalent percentage for whatever platform Horizon Worlds later lands on, like Google Play), and then they have to cede 25 percent of the remaining Horizon Worlds.

This leaves creators with just over half of the revenue from their content before any applicable taxes.

The announcement has drawn the ire of developers in the loosely related NFT community, used to single-digit percentage platform revenues. There are also allegations of hypocrisy from game developers and others who have seen Meta publicly slam companies like Apple for charging 30 percent for similar transactions surrounding in-game content.

So far, Meta has brushed off the controversy. Vivek Sharma, Vice President of Meta at Horizon Worlds, told The Verge, “We think it’s a pretty competitive price in the market…we think the other platforms can have their share.”

Meta is a massive company with several different goals and teams behind each of those goals. It’s not that surprising that a Horizon Worlds executive tells a different story (other platforms deserve their cut) than the bits of meta that upset Apple and others (who claim these platforms’ cuts are unreasonable).

But conflicting messages aside, the content creators we spoke to say the slice of the pie they’ll be getting on this platform is far less than expected.

Horizon Worlds is just part of Meta’s plan to bring AR, VR and virtual worlds to the masses. The company also plans to launch mass-market augmented reality glasses sometime in 2024, in direct competition with Apple and other companies with similar plans.

New Technology Era

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