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This article was published on April 12, 2022

Zuckerberg scrambles to monetize the metaverse amid fears over Meta’s future

Are "Zuck bucks" on the way?

Zuckerberg scrambles to monetize the metaverse amid fears over Meta’s future
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

Meta is exploring new ways to monetize the metaverse amid dwindling profits and user numbers at the company.

Two emerging revenue streams have been revealed in the last week: selling virtual goods and digital currency.

The digital assets sales are being tested in Horizon Worlds, Meta’s free VR platform, the company announced on Monday.

The initial trials will allow a “handful of creators,” to sell virtual items and effects, such as fashion accessories or VIP access to virtual 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 in a promotional video.

Some participants will also get bonus payments from Meta — but the company isn’t offering its services for free. Horizon Worlds will charge a chunky 25% fee for sales.

When you add that to the 30% platform fee for sales made on Meta Quest, the firm could take a total cut of up to 47.5%. That sounds particularly steep in light of Zuckerberg’s criticisms of Apple’s App Store charges.

Virtual money

The announcement came days after reports emerged that Meta plans to add virtual coins, tokens, and lending services to its apps.

Sources told the Financial Times that the currency has been dubbed “Zuck Bucks” by Meta staff, who “lovingly” refer to their boss as “Eye of Sauron.”

The coin is expected to resemble the in-app tokens used in Roblox and is unlikely to be based on the blockchain.

Another potential idea is offering “social” or “reputation” tokens as rewards for contributions, which will hopefully be closer to Reddit’s karma points than China’s social credit system.

In addition, proposals have been made to provide creator coins to influencers and offer more traditional lending services.

Meta’s challenges

The plans were revealed at a troubling time for the company.

In February, Meta had a one-day stock crash that may be the worst of all time, after Facebook lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history.

The fallout from the Facebook Papers, competition from TikTok, Apple’s new app-tracking policy, and a $10 billion annual splurge on the metaverse have compounded the concerns.

The new ideas for revenue streams may eventually arrest the decline, but the company’s transition from social media to the metaverse seems some way from paying off.

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