It looks as though AltspaceVR will be the next social VR platform available to Oculus Quest users, joining Bigscreen, Dance Central, Rec Room, and VRChat. (You can already install AltspaceVR using SideQuest, but this is the official announcement that the AltspaceVR app will be available via the Oculus Store for the Quest.)
There’s been a very interesting discussion taking place today on the RyanSchultz Discord server. One of the regular contributors to the many conversations that take place there, Michael Zhang, pulled together the following information from Crunchbase:
Today I Learned: Building social VR, MMOs, and virtual worlds are a lot more expensive than I imagined!
-High Fidelity raised $72.9 million over five rounds and is struggling with their recent pivot to enterprise. -Rec Room raised $29 million over two rounds, $24 million only recently, so they lived off of $5 million for several years. -Altspace raised $15.7 million over three rounds, went bankrupt and shut down, then revived when bought by Microsoft. -Bigscreen raised $14 million over two rounds. -TheWaveVR raised $12.5 million over three rounds. -vTime raised $7.6 million over one round. -VRChat raised $5.2 million over two rounds. -JanusVR raised $1.6 million over two rounds. -Somnium Space raised $1 million over two rounds.
-Epic Games raised $1.6 billion over two rounds, $1.25 billion coming after Fortnite. -Mojang’s Minecraft launched in 2003, started making profits in 2007, earned $237.7 million in revenue by 2012, and sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. (Wikipedia) -Roblox raised $187.5 million over seven rounds. -Linden Lab’s Second Life raised $19 million over two rounds.
Then, another contributor named Jin put together this graph to illustrate how successful the various social VR platforms have been in raising venture capital (please click on this picture to see it in full size on Flickr, or just click here). As you can see, High Fidelity is far and away the leader in raising money!
(In comparison, Decentraland raised 24 million dollars in their initial coin offering. Jin also made a second chart including Decentraland, but I have not included it here because, unlike the other platforms, it does not currently support VR, and it is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.)
Thank you to Michael Zhang and to Jin for their work!
The real world can still be a unwelcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people. So perhaps it is not surprising that LGBTQ people are attracted to social VR and virtual worlds, as a way to connect with other queer people and create queer spaces. (Please note that, as a proud and out-of-the-closet gay man, I am reclaiming the formerly pejorative term queer in referring to LGBTQ people.)
There are two regular weekly LGBTQ+ and Friends meetups which take place in AltspaceVR:
Come join our global LGBTQ weekly meetup that offers support, encouragement, and love from all corners of the world. Join our North American meetup at: (6:00 p.m. Pacific). If you are sending your love abroad, join us at our earlier time (1:00 p.m. Pacific). We have created this safe haven where you can express yourself in a welcoming environment. We have created this space for those who have difficulty sharing their thoughts and experiences. Feel bold enough to share your stories and we will do our part to give you the encouragement you need to live the life you have always dreamed.
VRChat has an active LGBTQ community that runs its own Discord server, where you can find out about happenings and events in-world.
Have you heard of other LGBTQ-friendly spaces and events happening in other social VR platforms and virtual worlds? If you do, then please leave a comment below telling us where and what it is, thank you!
This week saw the launch of a new weekly talk show, set on the social VR platform of AltspaceVR, which I must confess I haven’t written much about lately on this blog.
Jesse Damiani is an emerging technology journalist for such publications as Forbes, and an editor-at-large for the VRScout website. Last Monday was the first episode of his brand new talk show, called Tech Tock. Jesse describes the show thusly:
Tech Tock is a weekly talk show about the future. Through intimate conversations with entrepreneurs, developers, and artists, we’ll peer into the world technology is creating—and have some fun with the people creating it.
As his first guest, Jesse invited the author Blake J. Harris to discuss his latest book, titled The History of The Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality (which I am currently reading, and I can recommend highly).
I arrived in AltspaceVR with about half an hour to kill before the show, so I attended an AltspaceVR 101 session hosted by the company to orient newcomers. At the end of the training session, the hosts opened up the floor to questions, and I asked my one burning question: was AltspaceVR ever planning to upgrade their extremely low-poly, cartoon-like avatars?
Unfortunately, the answer was “no”, but the person who answered the question old me that AltspaceVR was looking at the possibility of allowing custom-made avatars sometime in the future, as many other platforms have done (VRChat, High Fidelity, and Sansar).
There’s something for everyone in their events listing, which of course is one of the reasons for their success as a platform. Another strong point is the fact that they pretty much support any VR hardware you have, from cellphone-based VR to high-end systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive—even the Leap Motion headset!
Next Monday, Jesse will have as a guest Nancy Baker Cahill, a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) app which invites viewers to place art in 360 degrees anywhere in the world. Her recent work in Desert X has been profiled in the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The AltspaceVR 101 is not produced by staff but by volunteers, as should have been explained during the event. So it is likely the person answering your question didn’t know the answer. The answer is complex. AltspaceVR works hard to stay an agnostic platform, enabling both mobile and tethered access, which few social VR platforms offer, thus less cartoony avatars are coming as devices improve. As are improvements in world building and environments. Stay tuned, and consider volunteering yourself to help with the 101 events.