Facebook owner Meta Platforms is testing new features allowing creators to make money by selling digital assets and experiences within its virtual reality (VR) platform Horizon Worlds.
The company's immersive platform, which is accessible via VR headsets, is a key part of Meta's plan for creating a metaverse - a virtual environment where people interact, work and play.
The monetisation tools will initially be available to a handpicked set of users who are creating virtual classes, games and fashion accessories within the platform, the company said on Monday.
"For example, someone could make and sell attachable accessories for a fashion world" or offer paid access to specialised digital spaces they have built, Meta said in a statement.
"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," it said.
Purchasing items in Horizon Worlds is available to people over the age of 18 in the United States and Canada, where the virtual reality platform is currently available.
'Creator bonus' program
The social media giant is also testing out a "creator bonus" program for a small set of Horizon Worlds users in the US, through which it will pay participants each month for using new features the company launches.
Creators will initially be rewarded for building worlds where users spend the most time, but the company says it may later choose to encourage creators to adopt new tools or features it rolls out.
"We want there to just be tons of awesome worlds, and in order for that to happen there needs to be a lot of creators who can support themselves and make this their job," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a conversation with early adopters, held inside Horizon Worlds using avatars.
Betting big on the metaverse
The Facebook parent company, which changed its name to Meta last year, has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality to reflect its new bet on the metaverse - a futuristic idea of a network of virtual environments accessed via different devices where users can work, socialise and play.
The company is competing with up-and-coming virtual world players where land, buildings, avatars and even names can be bought and sold as non-fungible tokens, or blockchain-based virtual assets.
The market for these assets exploded last year, with sales sometimes fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Meta's Horizon Worlds, an expansive VR social platform, and Horizon Venues, which is focused on virtual events, are early iterations of metaverse-like spaces.