When Facebook acquired Oculus Rift in 2014 for $2 billion, it had a completely different vision for the product. Apart from just gaming, the company wanted to take the VR experience, and apply it to a social setting. For that purpose, it launched Facebook Spaces, where people can create their avatars and hang out with friends in a virtual space. The goal however was to expand that social experience. Because of that, the company on Wednesday launched a new VR app called the Oculus Venues.
The new app allows users to use their Oculus VR headsets to watch live concerts, sports games, tech talks and many other events in a social VR setting that consists around 252 people. The company has already lined up a few events for the Oculus Venues in the next coming weeks. This includes a Vance Joy concert, an MLB game, and a few gigs at the Gotham Comedy Club. Besides that, the app will also be showing a few movie titles.
While using Oculus Venues, people have the opportunity to talk to others, switch seats, and adjust their overall view of the event. While users can enjoy an event with friends, the app also lets people sit next to strangers and strike up a conversation. The app is synced with your Facebook account, so it will share some common interest to help talk to people. However, personal details will only be shared if you add that person on your Oculus account. On the flipside, the app also lets you cut off all the interactions and enjoy the event alone in peace.
As reported by the Wired, Facebook has been working on this project for a while, and has had to tackle a lot of problems in the way. Having so many people in the same VR space, can be a little taxing on the servers, which in turn could hamper the VR experience for users. To tackle that problem, the company decided to keep the movement limited. Apart from switching seats directly, users will not be able to physically move around in the VR space.
To prevent harassment, the company has also made it possible for users to report others who are behaving badly on the platform. Having users’ Facebook account synced here will help the company act against that person, and even ban him/her from the event. Oculus has even made a code of conduct video for Oculus Venues.
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The company plans on adding more features in the future. The head of the team Mike LeBeau also told the Wired that the company would like to come up with ways, where it could have the VR crowd interact with the real-world crowd who are present at the venue. With Oculus Venues Facebook is really changing the way we could be watching live events in the future.