When you establish companies and create things inside of a big new industry like the virtual reality marketplace you’re inviting a bit of risk into your professional life. Most VR companies right now are surviving on venture capital funding, limited software and hardware sales, or sheer force of will and passion in spite of dwindling bank accounts. For AltspaceVR, the landmark social VR application that quickly became synonymous with “hanging out” while in virtual reality, the runway has finally ran out.
Today the company announced that on August 3rd, 2017 at 7PM PT AltspaceVR will officially be shutting down. In a blog post entitled “A Very Sad Goodbye,” mentions of financial trouble outline the reasons for the closure. Similar fates befell the likes of Vrideo and Envelop as well.
“The company has run into unforeseen financial difficulty and we can’t afford to keep the virtual lights on anymore,” the company states in its blog post. “This is surprising, disappointing, and frustrating for every one of us who have put our passion and our hopes into AltspaceVR. We know it will probably feel similarly for you.”
For many people, myself included, AltspaceVR was one of the very first and very best ways to hang out with other people in a virtual space while wearing a VR HMD. Whether you were on a Rift, Vive, or Gear VR it was easy to hop on, hang out, play games, and feel like you were actually near one another.
However, AltspaceVR was free to download and use without much in the way of a monetization plan. “We’re a venture-backed startup,” the company states in the blog post. “We had a supportive group of investors that last gave us money in 2015. It looked like we had a deal for our next round of funding, and it fell through. Some combination of this deal falling through and the general slowness of VR market growth made most of our investors reluctant to fund us further. We’ve been out fundraising but have run out of time and money.”
Additionally, the VR landscape has changed a lot in the years since AltspaceVR first released. Bigscreen has a lot of similar features and does certain areas of social engagement better, while Facebook Spaces could very likely take the place of AltspaceVR as the default way of “hanging out” with friends while wearing a headset.
We have reached out to members of AltspaceVR for comment on the nature of the closure and what’s next and will keep you updated on what we find out.
In the meantime enjoy the last days of AltspaceVR before it comes to an end. And don’t forget to let us know some of your favorite moments from the past couple of years in AltspaceVR down in the comments below!