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Meta Wants You to Sell Virtual Stuff, but You Gotta Pay the Metaverse Tax

The initial roll-out of VR buying and selling is limited to the Horizon Worlds app. Fees to Oculus and Meta mean creators will lose almost half of their sales.

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A person in a dark hoodie is wearing a virtual reality headset with their arms out.
This person could soon be an active participant in the metaverse economy, buying or selling in-app creations for digital avatars.
Photo: Westend61 (Getty Images)

Meta’s first attempt at virtual reality ads was a major flop. Now, the company is shifting to a different money-making strategy within its metaverse: The buying and selling of virtual “items and effects,” as described in a Monday press release.

Commerce is coming specifically to Horizon Worlds, Meta’s open-world VR app where you can be the rudimentary, cartoon, floating torso you’ve always wanted to be. (See: the video accompanying the company’s blog post.)

YouTube: Vidyuu Nights

Creators in Horizon will be able to sell the in-world stuff they make, like virtual clothes and accessories or character mods, to other users. But Meta will skim a hefty 25% off the top, and that’s after Oculus’ 30% hardware fee. In total, creators will forfeit 47.5% of their earnings to the two companies. The privilege to have the company formerly known as Facebook take almost half of your earnings is currently limited to a small number of creators, hand-picked by the company itself.

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After the testing period though, Meta hopes to expand the selling function to all. “These types of tools are steps toward our long-term vision for the metaverse where creators can earn a living and people can purchase digital goods, services, and experiences,” the company wrote in its statement.

Purchasing within the metaverse is limited to users 18+ in the U.S. and Canada, and payments are processed through the Meta App Store. For now, the simulated goods users buy in one of Horizon Worlds’ “worlds” won’t be transferable to others, meaning the fake stuff you pay for is only real in the designated area you buy it in. Though, in an interview with CNET, Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon told the outlet, “We want to do this in a way that will scale eventually to cross worlds, into shared spaces and beyond.”

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And all of the other parameters and features of the burgeoning metaverse economy are liable to change too, as problems and potential fixes arise. For example, right now there’s no way for users to ensure the things they pay for will be as advertised, according to CNET. But Meta is, again, pushing off that issue to be solved at a later date. The future is here, but it’s apparently not yet one with consumer protections.

Correction: This article originally stated that Horizon creators would pay a 25% fee on all sales in the metaverse. It is in fact, even higher than that. Creators will pay a 30% hardware fee to Oculus and then an additional 25% of what remains to Meta’s Horizon (or 17.5% of their gross income).