Meta is testing new ways for metaverse creators to sell items and experiences. The Menlo Park-headquartered giant is also trialling a bonus programme for creators. However, neither of these initiatives amount to the rumours of the so-called Zuck Bucks that people have whispered about in the past.

Earlier in April, the news broke that Meta was working on a new cryptocurrency, which engineers apparently referred to as Zuck Bucks in reference to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, according to a report in the Financial Times. While the Facebook parent company declined to comment on the story, it made sense given Meta’s ambitions to change its business model.

It is no secret why Meta needs to change things up. The company has been hammered by privacy advocates, whistleblowers and politicians for allegedly prioritising profits over users’ mental health, and for choking competition in the market. Despite Meta having rejected those accusations, the company is finding it more challenging to retain users. Facebook even lost users for the first time in the last three months of 2021.

At the same time, it has become harder for Meta to make money on ads. This is due to a combination of tighter data privacy policing and companies like Apple giving users more control over how Big Tech can stalk them across the web. In other words, Meta needs to change things up.

“Meta needs to stay relevant and attractive to Gen Z in the new era of social media,” Lil Read, senior analyst at research firm GlobalData, tells Verdict. “Two big internet themes for the next decade are metaverse and Web3, and Meta has clearly recognised and acknowledged the enormous financial opportunity by changing its name from Facebook. Cryptocurrencies and digital tokens will form cornerstones of both the metaverse and Web3. By developing its own in-app tokens, Meta will give users a reason to stay within its sprawling ecosystem.”

Enter the Meta tools for creators

Meta rebranding to a metaverse company makes sense. While the new set of tools being announced falls short of the Zuck Bucks people were talking about earlier in April, they do follow the same logic: Create an ecosystem with a lot of content and keep users there.

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The tools announced on Monday are for creators on Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality game that includes a game creation system. It was formerly known as Facebook Horizon. To access it, users must have access to an Oculus Rift S or Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headset as well as two hand-held motion controllers. Visually, the VR game looks very similar to Facebook Workrooms, its VR platform for professionals.

“[We’re] beginning to test several new tools that will enable creators to experiment with different ways to monetise what they’re building in Horizon Worlds,” Meta said on Monday. “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.”

The digital good could be attachable accessories for a fashion world or paid access to a new part of a world. Eighteen-year olds and over can purchase items in Horizon Worlds, provided they live in the States or in Canada.

Meta also announced a bonus programme for creators, or at least the rollout of a limited test of a programme.

“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,” Meta said. “Creator bonuses are not subject to fees and will be paid to creators in full.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.