VRChat in the Oculus Quest Has Been Somewhat Buggy and Rather Underwhelming So Far

So, I have been visiting VRChat using my new Oculus Quest standalone VR headset off and on since its launch two weeks ago, and to sum up my experience in one word, it has been… underwhelming. VRChat was the first app I tested on my first day using the Quest, and I wrote:

VRChat on the Oculus Quest works the same way as it does on the Oculus Rift, and in no time I was up and running. I selected a portal to an avatar shop and picked out an anime avatar girl. I also visited Al’s Avatar Corridors, a popular and well-known avatar shop in VRChat, but I was disappointed to find that most of the selections would not work in an Quest environment.

When you encounter someone whose avatar is too complex to render for the Quest, their avatar is replaced with a grey robot which has “PC”: stamped on its chest. I predict that many Quest users of VRChat will soon realize that they are missing a LOT of what made VRChat so attractive in the first place, as they visit place after place where most of the other avatars are grey robots. Will that impact how popular VRChat is with Quest users? Perhaps. Only time will tell. 

Well, two weeks in, I can report that there is a noticeable jump in the number of Quest-ready avatars at Al’s Avatar Corridors, which is very nice to see. I selected Winnie the Pooh as my avatar and set out to explore this evening.

And I was frankly disappointed in what I found. I would visit world after world packed with grey PC robots (which is what non-optimized avatars look like to Quest users), and when I made an effort to find Quest-friendly spaces like the Quest Café and the Bamboo Tample, I found them deserted or near-deserted (maybe I’ve just been unlucky?). I also noticed severely degraded performance in that any world I visited that had more than a handful of avatars in it (and quite often, the sound was very choppy). In one instance, I actually got VR sick and had to take off my headset, and that almost never happens to me anymore!

And I’m not the only one who has noticed that VRChat on the Quest is not that great an end-user experience. On the VRChat subReddit, a user named SevereMatrex posted:

Despite the title, being able to play VRChat on a mobile headset is very impressive. I didn’t think it would even be available. But, that’s not to say it’s enjoyable (at the moment). Here’s everything that makes the game currently unplayable on the Quest.

Crashes are very frequent. I crash to the Oculus home at least once every hour with no warning. I could be sitting in the default home and I would crash.

I get sent back to the default VRChat home at random. Not sure if it’s my internet connection (other online games run perfectly fine), but I often would just get sent back to my home at random while in worlds, or while joining worlds, which brings me to my next point.

Out of the (notably very few) worlds that are available at the minute, the optimization on some of them is horrible. Even the world such as The Box with just a couple people in it (all with the default PC avatar), I notice a huge drop in frame rate. And then there are worlds like Japan Shrine, which is a fairly popular and good-looking world, but not on Quest! I know this is because of the world creator, but many worlds are like this. Sky boxes are insanely pixelated and textures popping in and out make it feel like there’s no point of playing in VR, at least on the Quest. I know it’s a mobile device with only so many resources, but I still feel like it things could look better (at least eliminate the popping textures…)

90% of people are the default PC avatar. I know this will change in time as more people start converting their avatar to mobile friendly, but as it is right now, I genuinely feel out of place. It’s honestly lonely. It really makes it hard to make friends when everyone is a damn robot. You don’t even know how tall or short they are, so you have no idea if you’re looking at their face or if they’re some embarrassing avatar that you have no idea they are using.

SevereMatrex’s post has sparked numerous comments, so I would urge you to head over to Reddit and read the whole thing for yourself. There’s quite a bit of debate over recent changes VRChat has made which might (or might not) be contributing to technical problems, notably a switch from locally-calculated IK (inverse kinematics) to network-calculated IK.

Now, I am not an expert on IK, but what I do know is this: I had anticipated that VRChat on the Quest would be a lot more fun, and (at least, so far) it hasn’t been. I’m starting to wonder if trying to shoehorn the VRChat experience into the Quest was a tactical mistake, and that the game, as it is right now, is still too unoptimized to run properly on a standalone headset. It will be interesting to see how VRChat responds to these and other complaints from users, and how they will improve the service for Quest users over the next few months. It’s clear that at least some users aren’t happy, but it is still very, very early days.

But I’m also interested to hear what you have to say. What’s your take on playing VRChat in the Oculus Quest? Are you happy with it? What problems have you encountered? Feel free to leave a comment, or join the conversation over on the official RyanSchultz.com Discord server!

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My First Day with the Oculus Quest

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

—Arthur C. Clarke
My New Oculus Quest (with Bertram the Bear)

Well, my Oculus Quest finally arrived on Friday, and this morning I set it up. I also downloaded my first app from the Oculus Store (VRChat), and tried that out. This is my report on my first-day experiences.

You need to have a cellphone with WiFi and Bluetooth enabled to set up your Quest. You will also need to download and install the Oculus app on your cellphone. I had installed mine three weeks ago, and I found that when I went into the Oculus App, only the Oculus Rift and Oculus Go were listed as options! So I had to delete and reinstall the app, and the second time I could select the Oculus Quest and begin setup.

Setup was relatively quick and easy. The biggest problem I had was finding a big enough space in my small apartment to play in! I decided to clear away all my unfolded laundry and create a suitable space in my bedroom.

The starting tutorials were very well-done, and I had a big grin on my face when I was dancing with the robot! Then, I loaded up the store and went looking for VRChat, and found and installed it.

VRChat on the Oculus Quest works the same way as it does on the Oculus Rift, and in no time I was up and running. I selected a portal to an avatar shop and picked out an anime avatar girl. I also visited Al’s Avatar Corridors, a popular and well-known avatar shop in VRChat, but I was disappointed to find that most of the selections would not work in an Quest environment.

When you encounter someone whose avatar is too complex to render for the Quest, their avatar is replaced with a grey robot which has “PC”: stamped on its chest. I predict that many Quest users of VRChat will soon realize that they are missing a LOT of what made VRChat so attractive in the first place, as they visit place after place where most of the other avatars are grey robots. Will that impact how popular VRChat is with Quest users? Perhaps. only time will tell. It could drive avatar creators to build lower-impact avatars, which could become a booming business.

All in all, my first morning was magical. There is a wonderful freedom associated with not having to worry about tripping over any wires! I do think that the Oculus Quest is going to prove very popular with consumers. I’m glad I got mine early, and I look forward to all the apps to come!

Facebook Doesn’t Have a Coherent Social VR Strategy—But They’re Working on Something Big

Ben Lang of the Road to VR website doesn’t mince words in an article titled Facebook Has Four Separate Social VR Apps, and None of Them Are on Quest:

Facebook’s fragmented approach to social VR hasn’t gotten any better with the launch of Quest. The company now has four separate social VR apps, and none of them are currently available on its newest headset.

With Oculus, Facebook has aimed to build the premiere VR ecosystem, but when it comes to allowing users of the company’s different headsets—Go, Quest, and Rift—to actually interact with one another, it has completely dropped the ball.

And, as I blogged about earlier, Oculus Quest users do not have access to any Facebook-branded social VR platforms: no Facebook Spaces, no Oculus Home, no Oculus Rooms, no Oculus Venues. Facebook has basically left social VR to third-party vendors like VRChat and Rec Room, both of which will probably see a jump in user concurrency figures with the launch of the Oculus Quest headset, which I predict will prove very popular with consumers.

Adi Roberston, a senior reporter for The Verge, posted a tweet about Ben Lang’s article, which led to a very interesting response from Infinite Retina, who apparently has heard some industry gossip and is willing to spill some tea:

Infinite Retina said:

We hear Facebook is working on a major VR initiative that will come out in next 15 months. Code named “Metaverse.” They ended Facebook Spaces to get the programmers to work on this new thing.

My first response to this tweet was “Hallelujah! They’re killing Facebook Spaces!“. (My second response was “Holy shit!“.)

As I have said before, Facebook has the potential to be a major disruptive force in social VR, if they could only get their act together. And it sounds as if that is exactly what they are planning to do. All the current players in social VR had better be paying attention, and planning accordingly. They have only a small window to make an impact with their products before Facebook launches their “Metaverse” product, and when they do, it’s gonna be pretty much the only thing that the news media will be talking about (if the oceans of fawning press coverage over every stupid little upgrade to Facebook Spaces is any indication). And Facebook has very deep pockets for things like programmer salaries and advertising budgets.

Fasten your seatbelts! Things are gonna get really interesting!

VRChat Prepares for the Oculus Quest by Redesigning Its Homes and Social Hub

In a recent blogpost, VRChat announced some changes to its platform to accommodate the expected influx of new users when the Oculus Quest begins shipping next week:

In preparation for our launch on the Oculus Quest next week, we’ve created a new VRChat Home and VRChat Hub for both our PC and Quest users! Both of the worlds are cross-platform, and will allow Quest and PC users to interact and chat with each other.

The new VRChat Home includes portals to popular destinations, as well as a new avatar selector next to a mirror. The redesigned social hub brings back the familiar campfire, which many people remember from the early days of VRChat:

The Hub has received quite a makeover. We’ve found that users tend to prefer smaller (but not too small) instances to chat with their friends, with areas that naturally lean into permitting groups to separate out and have conversations. A darker evening lighting scheme tends to be more favorable and provides an “after-hours” feel…The campfire provides a comfortable, natural area to gather up.

The New VRChat Hub

You should see these changes the next time you log in to VRChat.

I predict that VRChat will experience a second boom in use after the Oculus Quest begins to ship to consumers on May 21st. VRChat is one of only three social VR apps to be available for the Quest at launch date, along with Bigscreen and Rec Room.