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Meta looks to open the doors on a metaverse marketplace

The news: Meta is looking to charge digital creators fees of up to 47.5% to sell virtual items in its Horizon Worlds metaverse, per Insider.

Here’s how it works: Meta announced in a blog post Monday that it has started testing virtual sales in its Horizon Worlds platform.

  • Select Horizon Worlds' creators can sell a range of “in-world” items including exclusive VIP access, customized virtual worlds, and in-game products like clothing and accessories for avatars. The trial will be open to creators in the US and Canada.
  • Meta plans to take a 25% cut of the 70% that’s left after the platform fee, leaving creators with just over half of an item’s sale price. 
  • US-based Horizon participants will be able to earn money from a $10 million creator fund that Meta set up to reward the most creative metaverse builder, Meaghan Fitzgerald, product marketing manager for Horizon, told The Verge.
  • Meta’s move toward monetization is similar to in-app purchases from other platforms like Roblox, which lets creators sell items they craft for the game.

What’s next? While “in-world purchases” for Horizon are still in trial, the move indicates a wider plan to monetize the metaverse

  • There’s no indication that developers or creators will find the fees and commissions acceptable. 
  • Meta plans to transcend VR by rolling out to more platforms like mobile, which would have additional fees from app stores that developers will have to shoulder.
  • The metaverse economy presents a potential $8 trillion to $13 trillion opportunity by 2030, per Citi.

Regulation is around the corner: Government regulators are in hot pursuit of mobile app store owners Google and Apple for how much they take in fees from developers, as well as for forcing them to use platform payment methods.

  • In context, the Open App Markets Act, which targets how companies operate app stores with more than 50 million users, aims to ban app stores from forcing developers to use the stores’ payment systems.
  • The battle with established mobile app stores is brewing on a global level, with Japan, South Korea, and the EU cracking down on monopolistic app store controls.

The opportunity: Meta has a rare opportunity to define the metaverse economy and establish new profit centers for developers and creators. 

  • A heavy-handed approach to platform fees and high commissions could alienate creators and draw tougher antitrust regulation.
  • Competing platforms can set their own prices accordingly and make their immersive metaverse and VR ecosystems more equitable, pulling creators and consumers away from Horizon Worlds.