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Meta erupts in rage over VR app billing

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Meta is facing growing backlash over fees charged for apps built for virtual reality headsets. Developers have complained about commercial terms on futuristic devices that the company hopes will help create a multi-billion dollar consumer market.

Facebook’s parent company has committed to spending $10 billion a year on the “Metaverse” over the next decade. It’s a much touted concept that means an immersive virtual world filled with avatars.

This investment has been spurred by a desire to own the next computing platform and not be bound by the rules set by Big Tech rivals, as Apple and Google have done with their respective mobile app stores. increase.

Apple is expected to enter the market by releasing a set of augmented reality glasses early this year, and Microsoft is developing a service using its HoloLens virtual reality headset.

However, several developers told the Financial Times that Meta, which is seen as an early market leader, is insisting on a VR app store billing model similar to what exists in today’s smartphones. said he was dissatisfied with This is despite Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg being very critical in the past of existing mobile billing policies for his app store.

“Don’t confuse marketing with reality. Picking Apple is good marketing. But that doesn’t mean Meta won’t do exactly the same,” says Seth Siegel, global head of AI and cybersecurity at Infosys Consulting. said Mr. “There’s no impetus for them to get better.”

By far the most popular VR headset on the market, Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 “Quest Store” takes 30% off digital purchases and 15% on subscriptions, similar to what Apple and Android charge. Charge -30%. .

“Definitely serviced. They’ve built great hardware, they’ve got store service,” said CEO of, the immersive reality startup behind VR gaming. author Daniel Sproll said. mysterious place.

“But the problem is that everyone feels like they agree on this 30% and it bothers us. do they change it?

Meta has defended its policy by stating that unlike iPhone owners, Quest users can install apps outside of the official store, through a third-party app store, SideQuest, or use less restrictive and experimental apps. I pointed out that you can use App Lab, which is a store.

“We want to encourage choice and competition in the VR ecosystem,” said Meta. “And it’s working. Our efforts have yielded substantial financial gains for the developer. As we announced earlier this year, he’s earned more than $1 billion in games and apps on the Meta Quest Store. was spent.”

Developers welcome these alternatives, but say their impact will be limited. According to Sensor Tower, SideQuest has only had his 396,000 downloads, while the Oculus app has had his 19 million downloads. Meanwhile, App Lab still receives his 30% of the purchase price.

Zuckerberg has previously complained about Apple’s “exclusive rights”, citing the App Store’s approval and curation process, evoking its “unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper to what you get on the phone.”

When the Oculus headset maker announced in April that its “social VR experience,” Horizon Worlds, would impose a 17.5% “platform fee” on top of a 30% tax on digital purchases, Apple accused Meta of “hypocrisy”. .

Apple adds:

Until Apple and others enter the VR market more cooperatively, Meta has the ability to play kingmaker in apps by tracking some apps quickly and delaying others, the developer said. says.

Some titles have been relegated to the experimental App Lab store, but some of the best are fitness games. beat saber When Super naturalfor example — acquired by Meta.

Another point of friction with developers is Meta’s changes to how “open” the VR app store will be.

Chris Pruett, Director of Content Ecosystem at Meta, said the VR team should allow developers to upload content with relatively few restrictions, or whether the app should “become Apple’s approach to the mobile app store. similar.

Pruett said Meta chose to take on a more gatekeeper role because it found that too many users were frustrated with poor quality content due to lax standards. However, the developer said the resulting barrier could lack transparency.

Lyron Bentovim, CEO of Glimpse Group, an immersive experience group, said: “Much worse than buying from the Apple or Android stores.”

Rooom, the Metaverse platform for 3D events, took nine months back and forth to get to the Quest store, but the same process with Apple took less than two weeks, said chief information officer Sebastian Gottschlich. said.

Devon Copley, chief executive of virtual meeting company Avatour, posted a question on the indie developer forum seeking support, but said he had “no answers at all.”

According to Copley, Meta’s developer relationship was “totally AWOL.” “It’s really frustrating because the development of the hardware is great, the hardware he platform is great, and they’re doing great things. But their developer involvement is a farce.”

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