[Update 9/26: Netflix is now officially in VR]
Watching movies is among my favorite activities in VR, there is just something about being able to watch a flick on a movie theater scale screen. It also makes for a fantastic social VR experience, as interactivity in that space is limited really to comments about the movie. I remember being in Convrge for the big screen premiere and having a showing of Face/Off turn into an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with bad jokes and Nic Cage impressions abounding. But until now the movies I have seen in VR have come either off YouTube or from my own personal library, there has been one big red presence missing from my VR entertainment library, Netflix – until now.
AltspaceVR just announced this week that it will be conducting another open beta this weekend, and with it will be a few new features, including the ability to stream in Netflix onto one of the screens and watch a program with people in VR. For this to work, everyone needs to be signed into a Netflix account. From there, according to Bruce Wooden (aka Cymatic Bruce) the company’s community manager, the “secret sauce” takes over and works to synchronize everyone in the room to the same scene. The system uses “browser sync with no rebroadcast in or streaming on [AltspaceVR’s] part,” meaning that the sync is happening without any altering of the video. The new feature is not yet perfect however, one person may lose sync with the rest of the crowd if, for example, they hit a lag spike and have to buffer, but other than situations like that the system should work flawlessly.
This is the first time anyone has added a syncable Netflix feature to VR, meaning this weekend will mark the first time a group of people has gathered to watch the popular streaming service in a shared virtual space, which is pretty cool. In addition to launching the new Netflix feature, the guys at Altspace will be streaming in the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship on Twitch, which will feature the best of the best in League of Legends, Starcraft II, and Counter Strike going head to head.
Those interested in participating in the festivities should sign up quickly at: altvr.com/join. The beta will be open from March 13th – March 15th, so you will have plenty of time to start and finish that House of Cards marathon in VR.