At this year’s Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is currently developing VR social spaces called “Venues.” Details are scarce at the moment, but the overall idea is to get Oculus owners together to watch live events.
Oculus Venues appears to be an alternative to AltspaceVR (which Microsoft recently acquired). It enables Oculus owners to experience live events with others in a shared virtual environment. Last year, AltspaceVR introduced a technology called Front Row that enabled the platform to offer limitless capacity for live virtual concert events. AltspaceVR’s platform supports up to 100 people per room, which is enough to fill a small space, but Oculus Venues support much larger crowds: Zuckerberg said that Oculus Venues would allow “thousands” of people to experience live events together as if they were really there.
Zuckerberg said that Oculus Venues would offer events such as concerts, sporting events, movie premiers, and TV shows. He offered scarce details, but we get the impression that you could host a virtual viewing party of your favorite TV show with personal friends, or join public events with random strangers (as you would in the real world).
Oculus Venues seems like a good move for the company, especially given parent company Facebook’s now stated goal of bringing 1 billion people into virtual reality (the Rift price drop should help with that). Social VR experiences will go a long way towards bringing the masses into the virtual world.
Zuckerberg didn’t announce a release date for Oculus Venues, but he said that the platform would be available to try next year. Although it's safe to assume that the Rift would support Oculus’s new virtual events platform, Oculus has yet to specify whether the Gear VR and the upcoming standalone Oculus Go headsets would support Oculus Venues when it arrives.