Social VR services ConvrgeVR and AltspaceVR are expanding their platforms for DK2 owners after the recent launch of Oculus Social, adding virtual home theaters of their own along with games that can be played while in VR.
While Oculus is offering a home theater that can be shared by five people wearing Gear VR headsets to watch a selection of Vimeo and Twitch videos, for Rift development kit owners AltspaceVR began offering a new home theater environment to watch Netflix with friends and Convrge is following suit for YouTube and anything on Twitch.
Convrge is also working to support Gear VR and the HTC Vive (AltspaceVR recently announced support for both platforms) while also introducing games into their multiplayer apps. AltspaceVR teamed with Wizards of the Coast to bring official Dungeons & Dragons games into VR while Convrge plans to introduce poker in the coming weeks.
While each of the services differ somewhat from one another in their feature sets and functionality (for example Convrge offers a “shrooms” button to make the environment go psychedelic), they also have a number of similarities. Each service features voice chat and your head movements in real life are shown accurately on avatars in VR. While Oculus Social has the benefit of being a first party solution likely to be tightly integrated with the hardware of both the Rift and Gear VR, third-party apps like Convrge and AltspaceVR can attempt to adopt experimental features and cross-platform communication to connect people with different VR equipment.
The near-simultaneous moves by AltspaceVR and Convrge to match the feature set of Oculus Social is notable because it indicates just how compelling sharing an experience with a small group of people can be. It’s looking like in the future we can mill about in a virtual lobby with dozens of other people to find folks with similar interests who will want to go watch a movie or play a game with you in a more intimate setting.
Each new social feature makes virtual reality a more compelling technology to bring into your home and we’ve found ourselves spending long stretches of time in social VR. I can’t wait to see how all these platforms evolve in the coming months with the launch of more consumer hardware.