Meta strikes blow against 30% 'App Store tax' by charging 47.5% Metaverse toll

Fees for sellers of virtual goods in Horizon Worlds will be almost half of sale price

Meta intends to charge content creators as much as 47.5 percent of revenue from the sale of digital assets that touch its Meta Quest Store and virtual-reality service Horizon Worlds, more even than Apple's "30 percent App Store tax" that the firm's Facebook subsidiary has decried.

The ad-biz-turned-VR-vendor this week announced it is testing a way for content creators to earn money by selling virtual items and experiences within the company's adults-only Horizon Worlds 3D space, in which avatars can't buy anything below the waist for love nor money.

"As part of our ongoing commitment to support creators, we’re beginning to test several new tools that will enable creators to experiment with different ways to monetize what they’re building in Horizon Worlds," Meta said in a blog post, noting that someone might for example "make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion world or offer paid access to a new part of a world."

NFT sales – for those who believe in the durability of hosted receipts and deny digital rot – have also been contemplated.

Meta is pitching its vision of Second Life the metaverse as a place that "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."

"Creators and entrepreneurs will have more freedom to find a business model that works for them," the company said.

Pot, meet kettle

Meta and its legacy Facebook ad-targeting operation have voiced frequent concern about how Apple iOS limitations on ads harm small businesses and have objected to Apple's "App Store tax." CEO Mark Zuckerberg has railed about how Apple uses its gatekeeper position to charge monopoly rents.

Yet Meta's answer to this sort of behavior turns out to be imposing even higher rent on those trying to sell some notion of pixel ownership in its torso-only digital environments.

Meta has yet to publish documentation on its fee structure, but a spokesperson for the US giant confirmed the details.

"Creators will earn revenue from purchases people make in their worlds, subject to any relevant hardware platform fee, and a Horizon Platform fee which is 25 percent of the remainder," the company spokesperson told The Register in an email. "For example, if a creator sells an item for $1.00, then the Meta Quest Store fee would be $0.30 and the Horizon Platform fee would be $0.17, leaving $0.53 for the Creator before any applicable taxes."

For what it's worth, the revenue from a $1.00 item, less the $0.30 Meta Quest hardware platform fee, is $0.70, and the 25 percent Horizon Worlds fee comes to $0.175. That leaves $0.525. So if Meta is rounding up to $0.53 in favor of VR vendors selling $1.00 items, keep in mind such generosity may not be evident for large sums where payouts can be more precise.

Meta's spokesperson said the company intends to bring Horizon Worlds to third-party hardware platforms run by other companies, which would set their own hardware platform fee – for better or worse. Meta however would still take 25 percent of whatever is left over as the Horizon Worlds landlord.

As of February, Meta's Horizon Worlds was said to have about 300,000 users, for lack of a better term. Now Meta just has to solve the problem of content moderation. ®

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