Which Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds Will Benefit from the Upcoming Standalone VR Headset Oculus Quest?

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As many of you already know, Oculus is releasing a new, standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest, sometime this coming spring, 2019. Priced at just US$399, it is sure to be a popular option for people who are interested in VR, but who don’t want to purchase a more expensive VR headset solution like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift is meant to fill the space in the Oculus product line-up between their entry-level, lower-powered standalone VR headset, the Oculus Go, and the Oculus Rift, a VR headset with Touch controllers which requires a high-end Windows gaming-level PC with a good graphics card to run. (Unfortunately, there is, as yet, no satisfactory native virtual reality hardware solution for Apple Mac users, although there are native Mac desktop clients for virtual worlds such as High Fidelity and Sinespace.)

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If the Oculus Quest becomes very popular, those social VR platforms which can run on the Quest hardware may gain an advantage over those which require a full-blown VR headset and a higher-end computer.

I think it’s safe to assume that Facebook/Oculus properties such as Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms (or at least some version of them) will be available for the Oculus Quest on its launch date. Social VR platforms with simpler avatars and spaces, which already run on the Oculus Go (like AltspaceVR, Bigscreen, and vTime) will probably also be available for the Quest.

Surprisingly, Rec Room, TheWaveVR, and VRChat are not among the social VR programs that are currently available for the Oculus Go ( I searched for them on the Oculus Go apps store and could not find any mention of them.) It remains to be seen if the companies behind those three products will release versions which will run on the more powerful Oculus Quest.

In a discussion thread over on the official High Fidelity user forums, HiFi CEO Philip Rosedale stated back in October:

We are definitely going to get High Fidelity running on as many standalone devices as we can, and we love the Quest. VR will not find a large audience until the Quest and other devices (like the Mirage and Vive Focus) become widely available.

Talking to Oculus about the process now… stay tuned.

When asked for to provide a more recent update, Philip added:

Yes, we are working on the Quest, and hope to have High Fidelity ready to run on it for launch! Very high quality device.

I also don’t know what Sinespace’s exact plans are for the Oculus Quest, but Adan Frisby, their lead developer, said on a Facebook comment when I cross-posted this blogpost over there:

We’ll be fine with it too – anyone doing Android support will have an easier time of it.

So it looks like High Fidelity and Sinespace will indeed both be working with the Oculus Quest, if not right at launch date, then shortly thereafter. This gives them both an advantage over Linden Lab’s Sansar, which very likely will not be able to work with the Quest. There’s still a lot of data that has to get sent to and from a VR headset to properly render Sansar experiences (especially for any experience which has global illumination enabled), which would probably completely overload any standalone headset, regardless of what processor it contains and how much memory it has (the Oculus Quest is supposed to ship with 64GB of storage for programs).

As I often say: interesting times ahead! Let’s hope that the Oculus Quest makes a big splash and brings even more people into VR. A rising tide lifts all boats, and many social VR platforms would benefit from greater consumer awareness and uptake of virtual reality in general. And I promise to cover all of it as it happens on this blog!

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Results of the First Virtual World Economic Situation Survey of Second Life Merchants

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Recently a survey of Second Life store owners made the rounds, and the results of that survey were published today (I learned about it from Wagner James Au’s long-running blog, New World Notes.) One hundred and twenty-four Second Life merchants took part in the survey.

Only 22.7% of the merchants said that the current month’s sales are better than the average of previous months. 39.1% say that sales were about the same, and 38.2% say sales are worse. It would sound as though the majority of stores are experiencing at least a mild downturn.

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What was surprising to me was that 42.3% of vendors stated that Second Life was their full-time job and their main source of income, much higher than I expected! Only 29.7% said they considered their store to be more of a hobby.

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When asked if they were planning to move to Sansar or other, newer virtual world platforms, most merchants said that they were staying put in Second Life. Only 1.8% of store owners surveyed agreed with the statement that “Sansar is a great next-generation platform for my virtual business, I started creating content for it already”. Another 9.1% said they were planning to move to other platforms, such as Sinespace, VRChat and High Fidelity. More than half (51.8%) stated that they’ll stay in SL “till the end of the world”.

So, it would appear that rumours circulating that SL vendors are having a rougher time of it than usual appear to have some basis in fact. Sales are down for many, if not most, merchants. Only about 20% of Second Life store owners report better sales than average.

Another thing I found particularly interesting was that the overwhelming majority of merchants have an in-world store location (only 7.3% of those surveyed relied exclusively on the SL Marketplace and/or shopping events).

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Complete survey results can be found here.

A Second Update: Leaving My Second Life Avatars to Other People Via My Will

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Prayerful Vigil: one of my avatars who needs a good home after I am gone

This week, I have been scheduling in-world meetings with various people in Second Life who had expressed an interest in inheriting one of my SL avatars. (If you want more background on why I am doing this, you can read all about it herehere, here and here.)

One thing that I have discovered, is that most people are not really that interested in taking over someone else’s avatar after the original owner has passed away. The idea probably creeps some people out. It might also be that people are shying away from having to provide a real-life name and means of contact to me and my lawyer (when I select one to draw up my last will and testament).

I do want to make it clear that I will no longer be publishing who gets what avatar on this blog. SaveMe Oh, who evidently marches to the beat of her own drummer, has decided to publish my email to her on her own blog, telling her that she can inherit my drag queen/clown avatar, Velcro Zipper, even though I specifically asked her not to. So be it. She has a habit of posting transcripts of other people’s conversations with her to her blog, so I probably should not be surprised. But she still gets one of my avatars to add to her merry band of artistic warriors and shit disturbers. Maybe the operators of the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) sims might want to add “Velcro Zipper” to their ban lists as a precaution, even though she will not be getting Velcro for many, many years!

But from here on in, it’s nobody’s business who gets which of my avatars in my will. So, if that was a consideration that was originally holding you back from offering to take one, please be reassured. I am not SaveMe Oh, and I will not publish transcripts of our conversations, or our emails/IMs, without your explicit permission!

Here’s my list of avatars. Many are still looking for good homes. I’m actually somewhat surprised that nobody has asked about my celebrity look-alike avatars like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, or Cher:

If you are interested in inheriting one of these Second Life avatars, please contact me via email at ryanschultz [at] Gmail [dot] com (or via the Contact page on this blog). You can also approach me and talk to me in-world in Second Life, Sansar or another virtual world, or talk to me on one of the many community forums or Discord channels for the various virtual worlds of which I am a part (including my own Discord).

This has been a very interesting experience for me! I have already had some fascinating in-depth conversations with people this week, and I look forward to many more in the coming weeks and months! As I have said before, I do plan on living a long and healthy life, and playing Second Life well into my 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, but you never know what can happen, and it always pays to be prepared for any eventuality. And, as I have said before, It would give me great pleasure to know that the avatars I lovingly created and outfitted will live on after my death. It’s a kind of digital immortality, and I honestly don’t think that it’s creepy at all.

Have a plan in place so your friends in virtual worlds will know what happened to you if you suddenly disappear off the grid! And think about what you want done with your digital assets if you should die. How will you choose to have things wrapped up?

Somnium Space Launches a New Crowdfunding Initiative on Indiegogo

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Somnium Space is looking for new investors!

The virtual world Somnium Space has already raised £112,048 in funding through the U.K.-based crowdfunding website for VR projects called SeedingVR. And now, they have launched a new fund-raising campaign on the popular crowdfunding site Indiegogo:

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Among the perks available to contributors are live guided tours of Somnium Space, T-shirts, parcels of virtual land and the opportunity to have your name “engraved” on the Somnium Space headquarters building.

So far, they report that they have raised 72% of their initial US$10,000 goal in only 36 hours! If you want to contribute, here’s their Indiegogo page.