App sale

Meta to allow Horizon Worlds creators to sell virtual items

Meta is testing new features to allow creators to earn money in Horizon Worlds, the company’s social metaverse platform for Quest VR headsets coming soon to mobile phones and possibly game consoles.

Most notably, a “handful” of Horizon creators will be able to sell virtual items and effects in the worlds they create for others to explore. The idea is that creators can sell everything from access to a VIP section of their world to virtual items like jewelry or a special basketball, according to Meaghan Fitzgerald, director of product marketing for Horizon. Participants in the United States will also be able to earn money from a $10 million creator fund that Meta recently set up to reward creators with the most engaging worlds.

With this “worldwide shopping” test, Meta is following in the footsteps of other 3D social platforms like Roblox and Rec Room, which both to leave creators sell items they make. Roblox has built a huge business from this model, while Rec Room is growing rapidly and also prioritizing creator monetization.

A worldwide purchase notification.
Image: Meta

Meta will take a slice of what creators sell, although exactly what that might be is a bit complex. For purchases from Horizon, Meta takes a 25% cut of the percentage that remains after a platform fee. For platforms with 30% fees, like Meta’s own Quest Store for VR titles, the creator will end up with just over half the sale price (the calculation being that Meta takes 25% of 70 %).

“We think that’s a pretty competitive rate in the market,” said Vivek Sharma, vice president of Horizon at Meta. The edge, adding that “We believe that other platforms can have their share.” (Even still, Meta repeatedly called Apple’s 30% take rate too aggressive for the iPhone ecosystem and intentionally lowered its rate on mobile for some in-app purchases.)

Horizon currently does not advertise beyond a recent Wendy’s themed world nicknamed “Wendyverse”. While the focus is on monetization for creators, ads “might be an area we want to explore in the future,” Fitzgerald says.

Meta is also rolling out an “objective-based bonus program” to encourage creators to use its tools and create their worlds. These bonuses will not be subject to fees and will be paid in full. They’re determined largely by how much engagement a creator’s world receives, according to Sharma.

Creators using in-world purchases and taking creator bonuses will be required to adhere to the company’s VR Conduct Policy and Prohibited Content Policy for Horizon Worlds. Fitzgerald says creators who violate these rules will be removed from the program.

The edge reported in February that Horizon Worlds hit 300,000 monthly VR users in its first months of availability, and the company publicly announced that 10,000 worlds had been created. Meta didn’t have an update to share on usage numbers, but Sharma touched on expansion plans. The company plans to bring Horizon Worlds to mobile phones later this year and is in “early discussions” about possibly being on game consoles, Sharma said.