Nevermet: An iOS Mobile Dating and Matchmaking App for the Metaverse

Nevermet is a new iOS mobile app by California-based Cheerio, which can best be described as Tinder meets VRChat. The app, which launched on Valentine’s Day, had over 2,000 people sign up on the first day!

According to their official press release:

As now the majority of new couples are meeting online, a new and uncommon app comes to the fore. Enter Nevermet. It’s the latest kind of “limitless” experience making love connections more accessible for people through avatars and VR. The brainchild of co-founders Cam Mullen and Solaris Nite, Nevermet offers to redefine how avatars connect to form meaningful relationships. Mullen and Nite previously launched three social VR apps together, each of which has tens of thousands of users on the Oculus App Store.

The problem is, it’s hard to find a VRBF or a VRGF (ahem, a “virtual reality boyfriend / girlfriend”). Walking up to an avatar in a digital world, just like in the real world, is nerve wracking! It’s even tougher when one doesn’t know the gender or age of the other person, if they’re single, or if there’s anything in common. As Tinder made it easier for people looking for a relationship to find each other in the real world, Nevermet wants to make it easier in VR and the Metaverse. Nevermet is focused on enabling romantic relationships in VR, but users who are looking to make friends are also welcomed.

So how does it work? It’s just like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or Grindr, but the key difference is instead of posting content of yourself, users post content of their avatar — no human faces allowed. A profile (which must be approved by the moderation team), can only showcase an avatar. After creating a profile and setting the age and gender filters, users swipe on potential love interests. If there’s a match, they can then text to coordinate a meet up for a VR Date. One thing’s for sure: Nevermet isn’t a dating app based on natural looks. Appearance is off the table, and avatar movements, style and the sound of one’s voice takes the floor.

Of course, dating and matchmaking in social VR and virtual worlds is not a new concept. For example, I personally know of at least five couples who met because of the social VR platform Sansar! And Bernhard Drax (a.k.a. Draxtor Despres in Second Life) has a whole series on YouTube called Love Made in Second Life, where he profiles couples who first met in SL and partnered up in real life! And Joe Hunting recently premiered his feature-length documentary We Met in Virtual Reality at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, featuring two romantic couples in VRChat. I’m sure that many other metaverse platforms have similar stories. So it seems a natural next step to have an app like Nevermet, for avatars to meet new friends or potential dates.

While the starting target community for Nevermet is VRChat, there are many users who overlap with other platforms, such as IMVU. While the Nevermet app is for iOS devices only now, Cam Mullen tells me that there are future plans to expand to Android mobile devices.

For more information on Nevermet, you can visit their website, or follow them on TikTok. You can also follow Cheerio, the company behind Nevermet, on Twitter and Instagram.

Planet Theta: A Brief Introduction

The Planet Theta website

Planet Theta is a relatively rare use case for social virtual reality (at least, so far): dating. While many other social VR platforms can be and certainly have already been put to use for dating, the only other specific friend-making/match-making platform I can think of is Cheerio, which I wrote about here (and which I would strongly encourage you to investigate as well).

While Cheerio is already available, Planet Theta has not launched yet. FireFlare Games, the company building Planet Theta, are aiming for a Winter 2021/2022 product launch (on both Oculus and SteamVR). According to the FAQ on their website, Planet Theta will support “Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Cosmo, HTC Vive PRo, HTC Vive Pro 2, Valve Index, and many more.”

According to their website:

PLANET THETA is a place to meet new people and create lasting relationships. Meet and match with people you choose. If you like them, you can choose to go on an experience with them. Take a walk through an enchanted forest, go grab a table at a bar, or have coffee over a game of cards. These VR Dating experiences are an opportunity for you to explore each other’s personalities and passions. We are putting human connection at the forefront of dating again. Step foot onto PLANET THETA and join the evolution.

The U.K. newspaper Daily Mail wrote about Planet Theta recently, providing a few more details on how the platform will work:

Planet Theta is the first virtual reality program dedicated to dating, designed for Oculus and Steam VR headsets by their company, FireFlare Games, which is based not in Silicon Valley but Wyoming.

While people can find love with a headset on in apps such as VRChat, Echo VR, Facebook Venues and AltSpaceVR, these aren’t specifically designed for dating, and catfishing or creating deceptive online identities is a constant issue.

“There is nothing that is well regulated and for adults only, and focused on dating…we’re the only game in town,” Mr. Crew [app developer Chris Crew] said.

On Planet Theta people can meet up in virtual nightclubs, parks, beaches and cafes, and they can use the settings to choose meeting others who live in the same area or elsewhere in the world.

And, as the developers note, there is no pandemic on Planet Theta.

First dates only last for five minutes, which Mr. Crew believes is extremely convenient.

“You can go on four or five first dates in the time it takes the average person to just get ready for one in-person date,” he said.

Unusually for a dating app, Planet Theta will encourage its users to create avatars that resemble their real-life appearance and verify that they have done so.

“We are trying to encourage people to look like themselves…what we don’t want is people to enjoy their date looking like a model and then find out they really look like normal people,” Mr. Crew said.

Hmmm, I wonder how they are going to get people to verify that their avatars look like their real-life selves! Will they be asking people to submit selfies to be checked against the avatars they create? There could be some potential problem areas here.

And, as I already said up top, Planet Theta is NOT the only social VR dating/matchmaking app; Cheerio is already up and running. It will interesting to compare and contrast the two platforms once Planet Theta launches.

I would also like to know whether Planet Theta is only for set up for heteronormative dating, or if they will support us LGBTQ folk as well?

Their website shows you a tantalizing glimpse of the wide variety of potential virtual worlds where you and your date can meet, everything from a pool room to a magical forest:

As for avatars, FireFlare Games announced a partnership back in April with Wolf3D, the company behind the Ready Player Me avatar creation and customization system now used by a growing number of metaverse platforms (and which I assume Planet Theta will use as well).

And they’re looking for beta testers! Here’s where you can sign up to be a beta tester.

For further information about this project, visit the Planet Theta website, peruse their official blog, hop into their Discord server, or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And (of course) I will be adding Planet Theta to my ever-expanding list of social VR and virtual worlds.

UPDATE Oct. 6th, 2021: I decided to sign up as a beta tester, so I will let you know how it goes!

Cheerio: A Social VR Platform for Finding Your Friend or Match

Cheerio is a new social virtual reality app, free to download on Oculus Go, Rift, and Quest, which calls itself the first social VR matchmaking experience. The concept is prehaps best explained with the following one-minute video:

According to their official press release:

After first launching on Oculus Rift and Go in early 2020, and tens of thousands of users joining since, Cheerio today announces that the company closed a pre-seed fundraise and has launched on Oculus Quest App Lab and Sidequest. With this launch, Cheerio introduces features brand new to Social VR to help people build one-to-one relationships, expressing themselves as personalized 3D avatars.

• Leave the app but not the conversation by recording holograms (3D video avatar recordings)

• Meet many people quickly, browsing through profiles and having one-on-one speed chats

• Control who you meet with age and gender filters

Users personalize 3D avatars and can communicate with others by recording and sharing public and private holograms. Online users can randomly match, one-on-one, with each other and travel together to 170 billion 360-images via Google Street View. Users upvote and downvote others’ public holograms and can
friend each other.

The idea of 3D recording your avatar (called “holograms”) reminds me of that feature in ENGAGE. There’s not much you and your match/friend can do other than explore Google Street Maps together, however. Another drawback is that Cheerio does not appear to support VR headsets using Steam instead of Oculus.

I will add Cheerio to my ever-expanding comprehensive list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds (which I promise I will reorganize and recategorize soon!).