Facebook owner Meta Platforms is beginning to test tools for selling digital assets and experiences within its virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds, a key part of its plan for creating a metaverse, it said on Monday.
The tools will be available initially to a handpicked set of users who are creating virtual classes, games and fashion accessories within the company's immersive platform, which is accessible via VR headsets, Meta said in a statement.
Using one tool, those select users will be able to sell their accessories or offer paid access to specialized digital spaces they have built, the company said.
The social media giant is also testing out a "creator bonus" program for a small set of Horizon Worlds users in the United States, through which it will pay participants each month for using new features the company launches.
"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," Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a conversation with early adopters, held inside Horizon Worlds using avatars.
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, socialize 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.
(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Howard Goller and Leslie Adler)