In an interview with UploadVR, Michael Booth, who heads up one of Facebook’s social VR teams, explained that the company’s social VR experience, Spaces will not be exclusive to Facebook-owned Oculus VR systems. In fact, Booth says that any VR platform that offers a six-degress-of-freedom headset and six DOF hand controllers would “ideally” receive support for Facebook Spaces down the line.
When asked if this includes Oculus competitors like the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR or even the upcoming headsets from LG, Acer, Lenovo, etc, Booth made it clear that all of those headsets are “fair game,” when it comes to Spaces.”
According to Booth, “Right now we’re launching on Rift and Touch because we think its the best in class for VR hardware. We’re trying to build an experience assuming that this stuff is ubiquitous in five years. At that time I believe all VR will be six DOF head and hands. I gravitated to that [for Spaces] to start with. When you have that level of interaction you forget that you’re in VR. Plus all your body language comes in.”
Booth did not say when expanded support for Facebook Spaces will be offered for these other headsets, but he did emphasize that the program is launching in a “true beta,” in which things will change rapidly, and profoundly for the new experience.
Booth views Spaces as an “experiment” for social VR, one that will hopefully blaze a trail for many more innovations to come.
By positioning itself as platform agnostic, Spaces has become one more thread in the tangled tapestry that is the relationship between Oculus and the company that purchased it in 2014. One would think a parent company would want to specifically drive sales toward the hardware it spent nearly $3 billion to acquire, and yet this decision does not support that goal. This is especially interesting that Oculus and Facebook have had no problem creating platform exclusive content in the past.
Clearly, for Facebook VR is a much bigger play than selling Rift units. It truly is the next frontier beyond online social interactions.