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Mark Zuckerberg Says Meta Will Test Selling Virtual Goods in the Metaverse

Facebook | via Reuters
  • Mark Zuckerberg said Meta is testing new tools that allow creators to sell virtual assets and experiences within the worlds they build on Horizon Worlds.
  • "The ability to sell virtual items and access to things inside the worlds is a new part of [the] e-commerce equation overall," Zuckerberg said.
  • Over the last few months, companies and individuals have been snapping up everything from art to real estate in virtual worlds on platforms like Decentraland and The SandBox.
  • Now it looks as though Zuckerberg wants to let users do the same on Horizon Worlds.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to make it easier for people to spend and make money on virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds, which is an an integral part of Meta's plan for creating a so-called "metaverse."

In a video published late Monday as part of a blogpost, the tech billionaire said that Meta is testing new tools that allow creators to sell virtual assets and experiences within the worlds they build on Horizon.

"The ability to sell virtual items and access to things inside the worlds is a new part of [the] e-commerce equation overall," Zuckerberg said.

"We're starting rolling this out with just a handful of creators and we'll see how it goes but I imagine that overtime we'll get to roll it out more and more."

Meta said someone could make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion-focused environment or offer paid access to a new part of a particular world, for example.

What is Horizon Worlds?

Horizon Worlds (formerly Facebook Horizon) is a free virtual reality, online video game that allows people to build and explore virtual worlds.

Meta published the game on its Oculus VR headsets in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 9 but it's yet to be rolled out worldwide.

Over the last few months, companies and individuals have been snapping up everything from art to real estate in virtual worlds on platforms like Decentraland and The SandBox. Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg has purchased virtual land and a fan paid $450,000 in December to buy a plot next door to him on The Sandbox.

Buying and selling digital assets hasn't previously been possible on Horizon Worlds but the company realizes there is money to be made in the metaverse. Indeed, Citi Bank estimates that the metaverse economy could be worth between $8 trillion and 13 trillion by 2030.

"The metaverse — by nature of its not being limited by physical space — will bring a new level of creativity and open up new opportunities for the next generation of creators and businesses to pursue their passions and create livelihoods," Meta said in the blogpost.

In addition to in-world purchases, some virtual world creators in the U.S. will also be paid directly by Meta for their efforts.

"People who are building awesome worlds, we're basically just setting up some funds to help compensate it and reward the people who are doing awesome work here in Horizon," Zuckerberg said.

The bonuses will be based around goal-orientated monthly programs where the creators are paid out at the end of the month for their progress toward the goal. 

Meta said creators will be rewarded for building worlds that "attract the most time spent." The company said it may tweak the metrics that creators are measured and rewarded on in the future.

Meta launched a $10 million Horizon Creators Fund last October. It's unclear how much extra Meta is setting aside to pay creators on Horizon Worlds or how much each creator can potentially earn.

Zuckerberg, one of the richest people in the world, said: "Creator monetization is really important because you all need to support yourself and make a good living building these awesome experiences that people can have."

Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, told CNBC: "The elaborate metaverse that Meta keeps pitching is still many years out from being realized."

He added that there are still a lot of question marks over how it will be used and how popular it will become.

"Meta switching on monetization tools is a smart move to help kickstart some sort of creator economy in the metaverse," Navarra said. "But for most brands and creators, the metaverse will remain something to keep a close eye on in the near-term."

He added: "For many creators, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube are at the heart of creator economy. They are tried and tested sources of income. The Metaverse is only just starting to beat."

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