Avatars are the future of social interaction, and as such, Meta’s looking to provide more means of self-expression via your digital twin, with the launch of a new avatar fashion store, which will be accessible across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
As you can see in this example, Meta’s avatar fashion store will feature a range of avatar clothing options, with initial collections from fashion houses Balenciaga, Prada and Thom Browne.
The broader scope, however, is that Meta will also eventually enable digital creators to launch their own avatar fashion items, which they’ll then be able to sell in the store as well, providing new monetization options for both fashion brands and individual developers/artists.
Which is similar to Roblox, where users already buy clothing upgrades for their digital characters, or acquire them via in-game achievements. Indeed, Roblox has a range of exclusive digital fashion items available from Gucci, GAP, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
Fortnite too makes the majority of its money from the sale of in-game ‘skins’ or character designs, which enable users to select and customize the look of their in-game character, with a growing range of variations available.
That’s a key mode of self-expression within these virtual spaces, where kids are increasingly interacting and spending time, and both platforms provide a template, of sorts, for how Meta sees its metaverse evolving. And by the time these youngsters are reaching adulthood, it could well be that these formative social experiences become the template for their future engagement, which is where the metaverse could truly take shape.
But Meta needs to build the groundwork now, and avatars are a key part of this. Meta has also recently made its avatar reactions available on Instagram, while it’s also launched improved 3D avatars for use across both Facebook and Instagram, in various ways.
Meta’s additionally working on its new photo-realistic avatars, and developing new ways to create more true-to-life avatar characters for the VR space – though Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently noted that these more true-to-life depictions may serve a separate purpose in digital engagement, with your cartoonish avatar for day-to-day interaction, and a realistic version for, say, professional meetings in digital worlds.
Either way, the more Meta can align users with their 3D characters, the more people will feel comfortable using these depictions as a representation of themselves within virtual spaces, and the addition of new fashion options provides another means to express who you are via your on-screen doppelganger.
More expensive, exclusive fashion items will also give users a chance to show off, and showcase their wealth, status, presence, etc. And as social media has shown us over time, vanity representations of popularity and status are a massive element, which is currently being reflected via expensive NFTs.
More exclusive, more rare, more expensive digital items are a mark of pride for people already, and you can bet that they’ll also end up being popular in Meta’s platforms.
It may seem strange to some, or even ridiculous that people will spend money on how their digital characters look. But younger users already are, to the tune of millions per year, and as Meta’s metaverse vision takes shape, this will become an increasingly important element.
It’s a smart move by Zuck and Co., aligning with existing and emerging trends.
Meta’s Avatar Store will begin rolling out next week, starting in the US, Canada, Thailand, and Mexico.