Welcome back to the Community Download, our weekly series that lets you, our members of the UploadVR Community, voice your opinion on a wide range of topics.
The future of VR, so many developers and executives like to tell us, is social. The power of two or more people living in different parts of the world meeting up online as if they were standing next to each other is what many believe will really sell headsets to the masses. That’s why Facebook launched Spaces on the Rift earlier this year and Sansar this week launched its own platform that allows others to create VR environments to share with friends.
The confidence in the future of VR with friends made it all the more surprising when AltspaceVR announced it was to close last week. Until now, Altspace was arguably VR’s most prominent social network, allowing for people to meet up online with virtual avatars across multiple headsets. They could chat, explore spaces together, and attend virtual events like stand up comedy sessions. Altspace resembled the future of social VR in the here and now, which makes its loss a massive shock. It leads me to question: is social really the future of VR?
For all of the hype surrounding social VR, I have to admit most of my favorite VR experiences are single-player. We’re still yet to nail a lot of the basic experiences we’ve dreamed of since the Oculus Rift’s invention, but games like Superhot VR and Gorn are where I like to head when I feel like jumping inside VR, not a chat room.
That said, game innovation comes alive in social VR. Something like Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within, in which players have to consider their own body language and wording in convincing their friends that they’re not a ravenous beast in disguise, is only possible in this medium. Other apps just work better with friends: Star Trek: Bridge Crew is only so good because you’re sharing the experience with others, for example. Social VR doesn’t just mean meeting up in hangout spaces, it means sharing your incredible experiences with friends, too.
So, I ask you, humble reader: Is Social Really The Future Of VR?
Whatever the case may be, drop down into the comments below and let us know what you think!