Meta announced today it is enabling new in-world monetization tools for a “handful” of creators in Horizon Worlds. The tools will allow them to sell access to items and experiences inside of the app. Eventually, Meta says, it hopes people can “earn a living” in the metaverse.

Horizon Worlds is Meta’s social VR platform built around user-generated content that anyone can build within the app itself. Though the platform remains available only to VR users older than 18 in the US and Canada, the company is moving ahead with testing the first in-world monetization tools which will allow creators to charge real money for things inside of Horizon Worlds.

The company says the tools will allow creators to “sell virtual items and effects,” and gives the example of someone selling an attachable accessory (like a hat) or an item that would grant access to an exclusive part of a world (like a special key).

Meta said the ability to sell items in Horizon Worlds is just a test for now, and while all users are able to make purchases, only a “handful of creators” are getting access to monetization tools for the time being. The company says it plans to iterate on the tools prior to expanding them to more creators, also saying that this is a first step toward its long-term vision of a “metaverse where creators can earn a living and people can purchase digital goods, services, and experiences.”

Meta didn’t offer many specifics on the functionality of the Horizon Worlds monetization tools. For instance, it isn’t clear how ownership will work (ie: once you buy an item can you take it anywhere on the platform, or does it only exist within a single world?), nor the mutability of purchased items (ie: if I buy access to a premium portion of a world, what happens if the creator chooses to alter or delete the world?).

The company also didn’t say if it will take a cut of the revenue generated by in-world purchases (like it does for apps sold on the Quest store).

We reached out to Meta for more details on these questions and more.

Image courtesy Meta

Beyond the Horizon Worlds monetization tools, Meta today also said it’s testing a Horizon Worlds Creator Bonus program for creators in the US. In addition to the $10 million fund the company formed to incentivize creators to start building in Horizon Worlds, the Creator Bonus program is focused around “goal-oriented monthly programs where the creators are paid out at the end of the month for their progress toward the goal.”

Ostensibly, goals will relate to metrics Meta deems useful to Horizon Worlds, like the number of visits to specific worlds, time spent in a specific world, return visitors, etc.

The company did not specify if the Creator Bonus program would be open to all creators or a select group.

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Meta also says it recently launched an “entirely new analytics dashboard” for Horizon Worlds creators to give them more information about how people are engaging with their worlds.

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Meta is far from the first to introduce monetization tools geared toward encouraging user-generated creation in VR.

Among others, social VR platform Rec Room introduced its first in-world monetization tools back at the end of 2020. The app allows creators to charge for items in the world to earn tokens which can be cashed out for real money. Similar to the Creator Bonus program, Rec Room has been offering incentives to draw creators to its platform, like a $15,000 matching bonus available to creators through 2023.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Ad

    “metaverse where creators can earn a living”

    This is nonsense that no one should validate. They said the same thing about targeted ads, that they help small businesses. It’s a lie meant to provide justifcation for their nonsense.

    Also “We asked about the fee structure and a Meta spokesperson explained over email that revenue “from purchases people make in their worlds, subject to any relevant hardware platform fee, and a Horizon Worlds fee which is 25 percent of the remainder. For example, if a creator sells an item for $1.00, then the Meta Quest Store fee would be $0.30 and the Horizon Platform fee would be $0.17, leaving $0.53 for the Creator before any applicable taxes.””

    • Lhorkan

      That is such an incredibly bad deal. Facebook wants others to create compelling content to attract users to their platform, and proceeds to take money from both creator and consumer. You can’t make this stuff up.

      They’re already subsidizing the hardware to grow their market. If they want Horizon to have any hope of success, they should drop the insane fees for creators altogether.

      • Johnnybuddy62

        They have the monopoly, so they do what they want. I don’t like that, but I have to agree, that’s just the best way to do… All the people in the need of cash will jump in, helping to build their world. Pretty or ugly business practices are not part of the equation unfortunately.

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  • Mario Baldi

    47% fees, hum… ok

  • efforting

    Other people see that this is insane, right? or am I the one losing my mind.
    Even if it was feasible and people accepted this, why? Sacrificing what little is left of our humanity to what? greed?

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  • GordonFreeman

    Why can’t we just have games + DLCs or software we buy and that’s it, microtransactions are the main reason I don’t game on my phone, VR ruined, this is the pits!

  • They said they want to be in the content creation business, so this makes sense

  • Anonmon

    You need a game people actually want to play and be in, with the potential for content people actually want to buy, before you can think about monetization. VRChat already has a thriving cottage industry of people making avatar bases, accessories for those avatars or avatar parts to kitbash together, and world/avatar commissions, most of which wouldn’t be applicable to Facebook Horizons. And they don’t even capitalize on it!
    Plus the creation tools you DO get with Facebook Horizons can only result in the same bland cartoony-no-texture-low-polygon aesthetic that must get incredibly grating if that’s all you’re allowed to have and see. Not to mention your avatar, the main thing people want to change substantially in VR, are literal cookie cutter copy/paste soulless Miis with X number of pre-approved options. You can be ANYTHING in VR, why would you want to be bland and corporate approved?
    How on earth anyone at Facebook thinks what they have going on is worth spending money on when things like Neos and VRChat exist, I don’t know.