June 17, 2024

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to let people buy and sell virtual goods and services — with actual money — in the metaverse

The tech billionaire on Monday said his company is testing new tools that will allow creators to earn money off of things they make that will exist only in the virtual world. Zuckerberg believes the initiative will spur creativity and allow digitally minded individuals to earn a living in the connected 3D virtual and augmented reality environments that constitute the metaverse.

“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,” Zuckerberg said in a video recorded in virtual reality and blogpost Monday. “Creators and entrepreneurs will have more freedom to find a business model that works for them.”

For now, only a handful of users will be able to sell what they’ve built. But Zuckerberg expects to make similar opportunities available to all creators down the line. 

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What’s for sale?

So what can you buy in Meta’s Horizon Worlds, the virtual video game that users access through the company’s Oculus headset? Zuckerberg said users will be able to buy goods like attachable fashion accessories, while users can spend money to access a new or restricted part of a given virtual world built in Horizon Worlds. Meta will also pay select creators if they build highly popular worlds that are frequently visited.

“For now, in this limited test, creators will be rewarded for building worlds that attract the most time spent, but over time we may evolve these goals, for example, to encourage creators to adopt new tools or features we roll out,” Meta said in a statement.  

Plenty of commerce is already taking place in other corners of the metaverse. For example, rapper Snoop Dogg owns virtual land in The SandBox, Microsoft Windows’ version of a virtual world. His purchase prompted a fan to shell out $450,000 to buy a virtual plot next door to him, according to a report from Decrypt, a crypto news site.  

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Zuckerberg wants users to be able to make similar transactions in Horizon Worlds, while noting the company will need to experiment before it gets it right.

“Clearly, the ability to sell virtual goods and be able to take them with you from one world to another is going to be an important part of it. But first there need to be things people want to buy like in order to get that economy going,” he said. “And I think that the stuff that ends up working in these digital products just ends up being a little bit different from what you’d expect form the physical world. So it requires a lot of experimentation and creativity.”

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