Developers compare Meta to Apple, accuse it of hypocrisy

Developers compare Meta to Apple, accuse it of hypocrisy

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Developers working on VR apps for Meta’s headsets have accused the Facebook owner of hypocrisy over commissions.

They say company founder Mark Zuckerberg described Apple’s 15-30% commissions as “monopoly rents,” yet Meta will take the exact same cuts from them for virtual reality apps …

Background

Zuckerberg has frequently ranted about the commissions Apple charges developers for inclusion in the App Store. During a company-wide meeting in 2020, for example:

Zuckerberg was specifically asked about Apple’s recent decision to block certain gaming applications from the App Store, including Microsoft xCloud and even the Facebook Gaming application. Apple has explained that its reasoning for rejecting these applications is that the App Store rules do not allow third-party apps to distribute games as a separate platform.

In response to the question, Zuckerberg said that Apple has a “stranglehold” on what’s allowed on the iPhone, giving it the ability to block innovation and charge “monopoly rents.”

The Financial Times notes that Meta charges the same commissions as Apple, and developers aren’t happy about it.

The “Quest Store” for Meta’s Oculus Quest 2, by far the most popular VR headset on the market, takes a 30 per cent cut from digital purchases and charges 15-30 per cent on subscriptions, similar to the fees charged by Apple and Android […]

Meta is facing a growing backlash for the charges imposed on apps created for its virtual reality headsets, as developers complain about the commercial terms set around futuristic devices that the company hopes will help create a multibillion-dollar consumer market […]

But several developers told the Financial Times of their frustration that Meta, which is seen as having an early lead in a nascent market, has insisted on a charging model for its VR app store similar to what exists today on smartphones. This is despite Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg being strongly critical in the past of charging policies on existing mobile app stores.

“Don’t confuse marketing with reality it’s good marketing to pick on Apple. But it doesn’t mean Meta won’t do the exact same thing,” said Seth Siegel, global head of AI and cyber security at Infosys Consulting. “There is no impetus for them to be better.”

Meta says there is one key difference: There’s nothing to stop Oculus apps being sideloaded directly from developer websites, or competing app stores. That’s true, but developers say that in reality, almost everyone downloads apps from the Oculus app.

SideQuest has been downloaded just 396,000 times, versus 19mn for the Oculus app, according to Sensor Tower.

Indeed, the total Meta cut of some digital sales in the metaverse is close to 50%.

Meta is taking a cut of up to 47.5% on digital assets sold within its virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds. Horizon Worlds is a free VR game that lets users build and explore virtual worlds. While it’s all part of Meta’s plan for creating its virtual “metaverse,” it comes at a cost to creators […]

A Meta spokesperson told CNBC, “that Meta will take an overall cut of up to 47.5% on each transaction. That includes a ‘hardware platform fee’ of 30% for sales made through the Meta Quest Store, where it sells apps and games for its virtual reality headsets. On top of that, Horizon Worlds will charge a 17.5% fee.”

Apple itself pointed out the hypocrisy earlier this year.

Meta has repeatedly taken aim at Apple for charging developers a 30% commission for in-app purchases in the App Store — and have used small businesses and creators as a scapegoat at every turn,” Apple spokesman Fred Sainz said in an email to MarketWatch. “Now — Meta seeks to charge those same creators significantly more than any other platform. [Meta’s] announcement lays bare Meta’s hypocrisy. It goes to show that while they seek to use Apple’s platform for free, they happily take from the creators and small businesses that use their own.

Developers also say that Meta’s app review process lacks transparency and is worse than Apple’s. One said that developer relations were “completely AWOL [absent without leave].”

Photo: Remy Gieling/Unsplash

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