The main platform in this respect is VR, with users interacting via their cartoonish proxies within wholly immersive spaces. But Meta also wants to enable non-VR users to engage in the same way, with the characters that they choose to represent themselves becoming a more prominent extension of their personality and presence. To do that, Meta needs to make its avatars more engaging, and more customizable, which it's already doing with the implementation of 3D avatars on Facebook, Messenger and within stickers on Instagram.
And now, Meta's taking the next steps, with some users now seeing avatar reactions as an option within Instagram Stories. As you can see above, some users are now seeing a new prompt to use either 'Emoji' or 'Avatar' reactions to Stories. Tap on the 'Avatar' option and you'll be directed to create your custom avatar character (if you haven't already) before being presented with a range of custom sticker responses, using your character.
It's another way to get more users creating custom characters, which, again, is part of Meta's broader push to turn this into a more common, habitual engagement behavior, with a view to these depictions becoming the way that you represent yourself online.
Interacting within virtual worlds - or the metaverse - is the main push, but the broader implementation of custom digital characters will also provide new opportunities for Meta to sell virtual items within its evolving spaces. For example, Snapchat already has a range of corporate-sponsored items available for its Bitmoji avatar characters, enabling users to dress up their avatars in adidas, Nike and other well-known brands.
It doesn't cost anything, right now, to dress your character up in these digital clothing variations, but the eventual expansion of avatar usage will see increased demand for exclusive items and customizations, that the platforms will be able to charge for, as people look to adopt more unique, more elusive variations that can give them a level of prestige within the virtual realm.