In response to developer complaints about the commercial terms put around future products that the business hopes will help generate a multibillion dollar consumer market, Meta is now facing an increasing backlash for the charges imposed on apps built for its virtual reality headsets.
Over the next decade, Facebook’s parent company has committed to investing $10 billion annually in the “metaverse,” a much-hyped proposal for a virtual world filled with avatars.
To avoid being shackled by the restrictions set by Big Tech rivals, such as Apple and Google with their separate mobile app stores, the investment is motivated by a desire to possess the future computer platform.
This year, Apple is slated to release augmented reality glasses, while Microsoft is working on virtual reality services using its HoloLens headgear.
Although Meta is considered an early leader in a young sector, numerous developers told the Financial Times of their unhappiness that Meta has insisted on a charging mechanism for its VR app store similar to what is now available on smartphones. This is despite Meta’s leader Mark Zuckerberg having previously voiced his displeasure with present mobile app store charging policies.
“Don’t mix marketing with reality—picking on Apple is good marketing. Seth Siegel, the global head of AI and cyber security at Infosys Consulting, said: “But it doesn’t mean Meta won’t do the exact same thing.” “They have no reason to improve.”
A 30 percent cut is taken from digital purchases and a 15-30 percent membership fee is levied, akin to Apple and Android’s “Quest Store” for Meta’s Quest 2, the most popular VR headset available.
Daniel Sproll, CEO of immersive reality start-up Realities.io, said, “Undoubtedly, there are services provided—they develop wonderful gear and give store services.”
This 30 percent seems to have been agreed upon by everyone, and now we’re stuck with it. A lack of competitiveness is apparent. The headsets from Chinese manufacturers are all the same. Then why would they make a change?”
However, Meta defended its regulations by pointing out that unlike iPhone owners, Quest users can install apps outside its official store via SideQuest or utilise App Lab, which is a less restricted and more experimental version of its app store.
Meta stated, “We want to create competition and choice in the VR ecosystem.” This is working: “And it’s working—our efforts have created a large financial return for developers: as we disclosed earlier this year, over $1 billion has been spent on Meta Quest Store games and apps.”
These alternatives are welcomed by developers, but their influence is limited, they argue. Only 396,000 people have used the SideQuest app, compared to 19 million who have used Oculus Rift. App Lab, on the other hand, continues to receive a 30% cut of all purchases.
When it comes to Apple’s App Store approval and curation processes, Zuckerberg has already bemoaned Apple’s “monopoly rents” and criticised the company’s “unique control as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones.
As a result, when Meta revealed in April that Horizon Worlds, its “social VR experience,” would levy a 17.5% “platform fee” on top of its 30% tax on digital transactions, Apple accused Meta of “hypocrisy” and called the company out.