Meta readying to monetize digital assets in the metaverse

Interest in the metaverse soared after Facebook's parent company renamed itself "Meta" as it shifts its focus towards immersive VR and virtual worlds.
13 April 2022

The Maisie Wilen Fall/Winter 2022 Collection Holographic Experience powered by Yahoo melds the virtual and the physical worlds in a way never seen before in fashion. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will give content creators the opportunity to sell digital assets of virtual items to users in Horizon Worlds, its main platform in the metaverse, the company said earlier this week.

“For example, someone could make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion world or offer paid access to a new part of a world,” the Californian tech group said in a new post on its website.

The metaverse, touted by Meta and other companies as the future of the internet, consists of a set of parallel “universes” accessed primarily through augmented and virtual reality platforms.

It already exists in a basic way in the form of video games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox and social platforms such as Horizon Worlds, and VRChat, where people come together not only to play, but also to interact and participate in events.

Meta, whose income is overwhelmingly dependent on large-scale targeted advertising, has made it its mission to make a major contribution to the emergence of the metaverse, and is staking out its place in the next battle for the public’s attention.

To that end, the social networking giant is seeking to attract content creators who are likely, in turn, to attract more new users.  It had already set up a US$10 million fund for creators on Horizon in October, where more than 10,000 different “worlds” already exist, according to the company.

“While we’re launching this today as a test with a handful of creators to get their feedback, 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,” Meta said.

The company also plans to test bonuses for creators who achieve certain goals — such as “building worlds that attract the most time spent.” These bonuses will not be “subject to fees and will be paid to creators in full,” Meta said, unlike revenue from digital assets, which is subject to a commission.

Horizon Worlds has more than 300,000 users in the United States and Canada, according to an article by the specialized site The Verge published in February. Doubts have swirled about whether the major metaverse investments will pay off for Meta, which changed its name from Facebook last year to highlight its shifting focus — though critics claim it was to distract from negative media reports. Meanwhile, formidable rivals such as Apple, Google and Microsoft seem poised to compete with Meta on the new virtual terrain.