Which Social VR Platforms Will Be Available When the Oculus Quest Ships—And Which Won’t

Mark Zuckerberg Announces the Shipping Date of the Oculus Quest at the F8 Developers Conference Keynote on April 30th, 2019

VentureBeat has posted a complete list of all 53 games and apps which will be available at the launch of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset on May 21st, 2019. And there are a few surprises!

First, let’s do a breakdown of the Top 12 most popular social VR platforms:

Will the social VR platform be available for the Oculus Quest at launch on May 21st, 2019?

Yes, It WillNo, It Won’t
– Bigscreen
– Rec Room
– VRChat
– AltspaceVR
– Facebook Spaces
– High Fidelity
– Oculus Rooms
– Sansar
– Sinespace
– Somnium Space
– TheWaveVR
– vTime

What’s really surprising is what is on the “no” side of the chart. I never expected to see Sansar on the Quest, since it has such high-end requirements. I’m also not surprised to see High Fidelity in the “no” column, despite Philip Rosedale’s promise that they were planning to launch on the Quest. High Fidelity has other problems on its hands at the moment, and trying to fit a pared-down version of High Fidelity onto the Oculus Quest has probably not been a high priority.

But I was extremely surprised to see that both AltspaceVR and vTime were not among the launch titles. Why? Because both social VR spaces already run on just about any VR hardware you can throw at it, including cellphone-based VR solutions. But either those two companies didn’t apply to be considered, or (more likely) they didn’t make Facebook’s much more stringent content curation for the Quest.

Also a surprise was zero mention of any successor to Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms. Or is Facebook going all in on Oculus Home? I refuse to believe that they are not doing something to bring together Oculus VR hardware users (Rift, Quest, and Go) in some way. We’ll know more on May 21st.

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Sansar Update: Full-Body Tracking, Avatar Scaling and More!

Today Linden Lab issued an update to the Sansar client software. It is now possible to add full-body tracking to your avatar by using Vive trackers. For example, you can add trackers to your hips and feet to show avatar leg movement that mimics your movements in the real world. (Here’s an example from VRChat.)

Vive Trackers

It’s just one of several avatar gameplay improvements:

Desktop Avatar Control options – Desktop users can now use two new settings to customize the way their Avatar moves with the Keyboard and Mouse.

Keyboard Turn – With this setting enabled the Avatar will turn left and right when pressing A/D (left/right) instead of strafing (sidestepping).

Face Forward – With this setting enabled the Avatar will always face the direction the camera is facing.

Note – Old default behavior was equivalent to Keyboard Turn = Off and Face Forward = On. New default behavior is the opposite.

Desktop throw indicator – Desktop users can now throw with ease with the new throw trajectory guide that will help to throw with accuracy. You can also use the mouse’s scroll wheel to manually adjust the strength/power of the throw.

Ability to crouch – Experience Sansar like no one ever has before. Use crouching to sneak up on your friends or squeeze below low ceilings.

Also, you can now scale your avatar up or down in size. The scale slider appears in the Lookbook under Settings:

You can grow your avatar up to 1.25 times the default size, or shrink him down to half-size! Avatar scale is saved with the outfits you save in your Lookbook, so if you toggle between avatars and outfits you also toggle between the scales set as a part of each one. So you can switch quickly between a tiny fairy and a large giant!

There’s much more in this latest release. You can read all the details here.

Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest VR Headsets to Ship May 21st

Well, the waiting is finally over. Pre-orders start today for both the Oculus Rift S headset (the replacement for the original Oculus Rift VR headset) and the standalone Oculus Quest, and they will begin shipping on May 21st, 2019. A lot of eager fanboys on the Oculus and Oculus Quest subReddits are no doubt bitterly disappointed that the Quest did not start shipping today, but three weeks is not too long to wait.

Of course, I placed my pre-order on the Oculus website for the Oculus Quest with 128GB of memory for CDN$699 this afternoon. Gotta have the latest gadget!

My Oculus Rift headset, which I originally bought in December 2016 and had replaced in January 2017 due to a defect in one of the lenses, is still serving me quite well and I see no need to upgrade to the Rift S at this time. After all, it’s not what I would consider a next-generation update, it’s more like a half-step upgrade. I can wait.

But Facebook’s announcements at their F8 developers conference were not the only news today! Valve officially announced the details of its upcoming high-end Index VR headset and hand controllers. At US$999 it’s certainly not cheap, but it does look like it would be a significant upgrade to the current crop of VR headsets. Pre-orders for the Valve Index start tomorrow, May 1st, 2019.

It looks like the battle for the high-end PC-based virtual reality headsets is just beginning! If I were Facebook/Oculus or HTC, I would be a little concerned about Valve’s entry into the marketplace.

Interesting times ahead!

The Expanse: A Brief Introduction

The Expense is a new social VR platform based on the Unity game engine, with apps for the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, and HTC Vive.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot there to visit yet, just a couple of experiences. The worlds have a blocky aesthetic which reminds me strongly of Rec Room and AltspaceVR.

If you want to learn more about The Expanse, you can follow their Twitter or join their Discord. Yet another social VR platform to add to my list.