Shares of Meta Platforms (META 0.85%) bucked the broader market downtrend on Monday, surging as much as 3.4% before ending the day up just 1.4%
The catalyst that drove the social media giant higher was excitement regarding Horizon Worlds, the company's social virtual reality (VR) platform and its current template for the metaverse.
After more than a year in beta testing, Meta Platforms (the company formerly known as Facebook) has expanded access to Horizon Worlds. Admission to the budding metaverse is free for those 18 or older using Meta's Oculus Quest 2 headset in the U.S. and Canada. It also requires a Facebook account and lets users interact with up to 20 other participants at a time.
The social aspect of the platform attracted thousands during the beta-testing phase, resulting in a variety of shared activities including battle royale games, movie nights, comedy shows, and even meditation sessions.
The app lets users build digital spaces using "script blocks," or small pre-written bits of code, that govern how the digital world operates. Users can then chain together script blocks to enable more-complex interactions, including creating games, social environments, and avatar skins (the digital outfits worn by participants).
The platform also enlists the aid of human guides who have been trained by Meta to interact with new users, welcoming them to Horizon Worlds, teaching them best practices, and outlining codes of conduct in the digital realm.
Meta said that during beta testing, there have been "thousands of worlds built already."
Earlier this year, Meta said it plans at least $10 billion on metaverse-related spending over the coming year. Facebook Reality Labs, its metaverse-focused division, is creating VR and augmented reality (AR) tools, as well as hardware and software that will bring this digital world to life.
While the metaverse is still largely conceptual, consider this: Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak has said that the metaverse represents an $8 trillion addressable market, and Meta is working to stake its claim.
With an opportunity of that magnitude, it's little wonder investors cheered.