Our team is all in on VR and the future of social VR. We’re hiring and growing as fast as we can to keep up with our ambition to build the best social VR product. Last night we announced that we’ll be launching on Oculus Quest in early August. We are using this launch to bring AltspaceVR out of Beta and make AltspaceVR better for our entire community.
We need to perform major surgery on the app to live up to our new quality standards. But this effort will accrue to a better AltspaceVR experience for every one of our community members. By August, AltspaceVR will run smoother, look better and feel more intuitive.
If we do this right, AltspaceVR will welcome a whole new wave of people to add to our friendships, our events and our community. We’ll host the largest crowds and we’ll offer the most creative and diverse live content. This effort also sets us up to scale and grow in the future. This is our best shot to grow AltspaceVR and discover what the future of communication will look like.
We’ve done hundreds of experiments to discover what makes people feel present with others. We’ve thrown a lot of virtual spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. We’ve released over 35 activities, 40 environments and hosted thousands of events. We blew the record out of the park with 1200 people in VR at one time to see Reggie Watts. We’ve seen multiple weddings result from folks meeting in Altspace. We’ve witnessed life-long friendships form. We closed down and rose from the ashes.
Now it’s time to use what we’ve learned. We’re hyper-focusing our product so that you can have the best experience. We’re doing a lot of construction this summer. And we want you to be honest with us — we can’t do this without you. You are the only part of this app that matters to us. The only metric we care about is if you felt like your time was of value after you took off your headset.
The number one way for us to improve our performance is by re-building our avatar system from the ground up. Our current avatars are tanking our performance on all platforms. So the more people in a space, the more likely you’ll see stuttering and hear broken audio. We are dedicating a team to rethinking our avatars all up and this will take time. We want to hear from the community as we start this effort. We will be hosting a feedback event on May 16th at 5:30pm PT. We want to hear from you: what makes you feel like you can represent yourself? What do you want to customize? In the meantime, we are rebuilding a limited set of placeholder avatars for this release. We don’t have the time or resources to rebuild every avatar and we want to start work on our new avatar system as soon as possible. We are currently rebuilding our human avatars and the guest robot-avatar, and the common male and female robot avatars. All other avatars will be retired in June.
This is a hard change. We know it. Your avatars are representations of who you are. You recognize your friends by their robot avatars. Some of you have built brands around your avatars. A lucky few of you have fallen in love with new partners as these avatars. Community members who have been with us the longest identify with their robot avatar and colors. Henry, Chris, Megan, Poxxxx, evildoer, JayW and so many others…we know you by your robots and colors. We won’t guess at how hard this transition will be. We hope that you can help us build our next avatar system by lending your feedback and experiences. We will hold consistent events throughout the summer so you can hear updates and talk to our team.
Full body tracking
We are simplifying our placeholder avatars in order to meet our performance requirements. This means full-body tracking will not be available after June. This is not a permanent change and we’ll be looking for ways to make people feel present through their movements. For now, Kinect, Perception Neuron, Leap Motion and IKinema will no longer be supported.
Part of our construction includes re-thinking how our events work. We are currently overhauling our FrontRow system that allows us to host hundreds of users for one event. Large-scale events are important to us and we’re working on ways to host more people in a space in a way that works well. If you host a FrontRow event, our events team will assist you to make your event a success until we have a new system in place. FrontRow will only be unavailable for a short period of time.
We will be redoing all of our environments that will be available on Oculus Quest to make sure they work great for all users. This means we will be retiring environments that are not up to our performance standards. Users with retired home-spaces will still have access to those spaces but new users will not see those options. We will also be removing any activities that don’t meet our performance standards.
Worlds and user-generated kits will remain available. All user-generated content will have a warning that performance may vary for those environments. There will be no changes to worlds.
Why are we doing this?
We aren’t doing this to turn a profit. We aren’t doing this to get something out of you. All we care about is that when you take off your headset, you feel like the time you spent in Altspace was of value. These changes mean we have the chance to build the best version of Altspace and grow our community. That’s our benchmark for success: your happiness. When you show up, you’re giving us the only currency we need to keep going and to keep dreaming about the potential for social VR.