Horizon Worlds, Meta’s social virtual reality app, is testing a feature that will let creators sell virtual items and effects within their worlds. This is only rolling out to a small group of creators to start, but it’s an important next step in Meta’s long game of building the foundation of virtual reality social networking.
“If you just sort of imagine some future metaverse at some point down the line, clearly the ability to sell virtual goods and to be able to take them with you from one world to another is going to be an important part of it,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in conversation with Vidyuu Studios, where he announced the feature. “But first, there need to be things that people want to buy in order to get that economy going.”
All users with access to Horizon Worlds — that’s people over 18 years old in the US and Canada — will be able to make these in-world purchases. To start, these items might be fashion items or access to secret sections of a world.
Meta is also beginning to test a Horizon Worlds Creator Bonus program for participants in the US. Meta has previously launched these kinds of programs on Instagram, where the company is avidly pushing its TikTok competitor Reels. This was described as an expansion of Meta’s $10 million Horizon Creators Fund, deployed in October, but the company did not immediately respond to questions about whether this bonus program is part of that $10 million investment, or if this marks a new round of creator funding.
“Creator monetization is really important, because you all need to be able to support yourself and make a good living building these awesome experiences,” Zuckerberg added.
The company formerly known as Facebook has gone to extreme lengths to promote its commitment to the metaverse. While sales for its flagship Quest headsets spiked over the holidays, the virtual reality business has accumulated over $10 billion in losses for Meta. Plus, as social platforms like Horizon Worlds grow, Meta will have to learn how to keep virtual reality communities safe, which is a tall order, especially when the company doesn’t have the greatest existing track record when it comes to content moderation. Already, many Horizon Worlds users have reported being groped or sexually harassed in the metaverse; other users report that the app is flooded with children who are too young for the platform.
Zuckerberg spoke to a group of Horizon Worlds creators about these new monetization features in a panel discussion, which can be viewed below: