Facebook’s parent, Meta, revealed this week that a core business goal in developing a virtual-reality “metaverse” is to make money from digital transactions.
Now the company is acknowledging that it plans to take a cut of almost half of all money changing hands.
A Meta spokesperson tells CNBC that the company will take an overall cut of up to 47.5% on each metaverse transaction.
That includes a “hardware platform fee” of 30% for sales made through the Meta Quest Store, where Meta sells apps and games for its virtual-reality headsets.
There’s also a 17.5% fee just for, well, playing in Meta’s digital playground.
The social-media behemoth is a leading force behind creation of a VR-powered online environment that promises to be like walking around in a video game or cartoon. Think of it as the web on steroids.
Meta intends to cash in on users seeking to customize their online personas, or avatars, with digital clothing and accessories.
Which is to say, it wants people to spend real money for make-believe goods that have no value in the real world.
This sort of thing is now common in video games, but on a relatively small scale. Meta and other metaverse proponents are hoping to make such digital sales a core part of people’s online lives.
Citi bank, for one, estimates that the metaverse economy could be worth as much as $13 trillion by 2030.
But Meta taking almost half of each online transaction? That doesn’t sit well with some folk. Twitter comments have been almost uniformly negative.
Development of the metaverse is now guided primarily by wishful thinking. It apparently depends on widespread adoption of virtual-reality headsets, which has yet to happen, and on millions of users being cool with spending real money on things that don’t exist in the real world.
But Meta’s overenthusiastic bid to wet its beak in a big way on each online deal — that’s the sort of thing that kills even the best ideas.
Expect Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg to walk this back in short order.