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Meta pilots virtual commerce in the metaverse

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The parent company of Facebook is stepping up its efforts to create a full-fledged virtual world, complete with shopping.

Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which initially announced its plans to take a leading role in creating the metaverse in October 2021, is beginning to test several new tools to allow select content creators to sell virtual products on its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform. In the metaverse, consumers use augmented and virtual reality technology to digitally engage with each other and their surroundings, with crossovers into the physical world.

For example, a Horizon Worlds creator could make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion world, or offer paid access to a new part of a virtual metaverse world. Purchasing items in Horizon Worlds is available to consumers 18 and older in the U.S. and Canada, where Horizon Worlds is currently available. Creators selling items will see a commerce tab and gizmo (tool to let other users into your Horizon Worlds environment) when they’re in create mode that lets them create purchasable items.

Fast-food retailer Wendy’s is currently operating its own “Wendyverse” with a digital store and more on the Horizon Worlds platform.

Meta is attempting to catch up with a rapidly growing trend of retailers selling virtual items, or virtual tokens that can be exchanged for products in the “real world,” in the metaverse. Apparel/footwear brands including PacsunNikeand Ralph Lauren have all opened metaverse environments that include virtual commerce features.

In addition, fast-food retailer Chipotle Mexican Grill has run virtual seasonal promotions on the Roblox gaming platform. And in February 2022, the Miller Lite brand of Miller Brewing Company opened the “Meta Lite Bar,” a brand-hosted virtual bar in the Decentraland metaverse platform, in a Super Bowl promotion.

Even virtual malls from companies such as Obsess and TerraZero Technologies, are also operating or developing full-fledged stores in the metaverse with both virtual and physical items for sale.

In addition to introducing in-world purchases, Meta is also beginning to test a “Horizon Worlds Creator Bonus” program for participants in the U.S. These bonuses come in the form of goal-oriented monthly programs where the creators are paid out at the end of the month for their progress toward the goal.

For now, in this limited test, creators will be rewarded for building worlds that attract the most time spent. However, over time Meta says it may evolve these goals, for example, to encourage creators to adopt new tools or features that are rolled out. Meta says it is also continuing to roll out more tools and support for creators that make building new virtual worlds easier. 

“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,” Facebook said in a corporate blog post announcing the new pilot.

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