The XR Week Peek (2023.03.13): AltspaceVR shuts down, and much more!
Hello everyone from Austin, Texas, where I am attending the SXSW! I’m having fun, listening to interesting talks, meeting new people… basically everything I always do at these events! I’ve very limited time, but luckily this week has not been very relevant for the ecosystem, so I’m managing to write this newsletter anyway
Top news of the week
(Image by Microsoft)
AltspaceVR shuts down
In one of the saddest moments of the latest years in VR, AltspaceVR has closed its doors. Microsoft has killed it (after having basically abandoned it) because it had to perform a spending review given the bad economic conditions.
The last days of AltspaceVR have seen many events happening in the platform where people said farewell not only to the platform, but also to the communities and the groups they were part of. Altspace was pretty unique because it offered amazing tools to create groups and communities, so people being part of it had many connections inside the platform. Now all these groups of people do not have a house anymore: some of them will migrate to other social VR platforms (e.g. Spatial or VRChat), while others will simply get lost.
I’ve found this event pretty sad, a bit like the shutdown of Echo VR: these have been applications able to give a sense of belonging to people, that made them have new friends, that in some cases give a sense to their life. And now they are just being closed because some lines in an Excel file had not the desired number. I know that money is what makes our world work, but I wonder if there could have been a better way to manage this situation… some way that gave more consideration to all the humanity that was involved in this project.
I send a big hug to all the AltspaceVR communities.
More info (AltspaceVR shuts down)
More info (The last moments of AltspaceVR)
More info (Farewell post dedicated to AltspaceVR / 1)
More info (Farewell post dedicated to AltspaceVR / 2)
Other relevant news
(Image by The Information)
Apple has been working on its headset for 7 years
The Financial Times has published an article about the upcoming Apple headset. The newspaper describes the glasses as the hardware through which Tim Cook will leave his legacy because they are a new product line fully built under his management.
There are some interesting pieces of information about the glasses inside the article. First of all, it seems that the headset is not a new product, but that Apple has been working on it for 7 years. And that now there is some pressure to release them. For this product, too, there is the usual battle between the design team (that aims at doing beautiful and lightweight hardware) and the operations team (that is more focused on shipping products). It seems anyway that for the first time ever at Apple, Cook has this time now given priority to the operations team. This means that the glasses may be shipped even if the technology is not ready to make them perfect from a design standpoint. I wonder if this will have any consequences…
News worth a mention
(Image by Xiaomi)
AR and VR were great at MWC
XR analyst Anshel Sag wrote a great article highlighting all the most important hardware showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It seems that there was a great showcase of XR, even if the focus of the exhibition was smartphones.
First reviews on Pimax Crystal are out
Selected Youtubers like Sebastian Ang (MRTV) and Voodoo were able to try in preview the Pimax Crystal. The initial impressions are quite positive, even if the headset is not immune to things that should be improved (like the tracking).
Meta Immersive Web Emulator is an interesting tool for WebXR
WebXR developers can now use the Immersive Web Emulator offered by Meta to test and debug WebXR experiences. The emulator lets them simulate the presence of a headset and do tests easily without having to continuously put on and off a visor.
Flipside and Low Fi finally launch on the market
This week we had the announcement of two pieces of content that we were waiting for for a long time:
Winnipeg launched the final version of its VR animation recording studio Flipside on Quest 2. With it, you can have your virtual recording studio to record short clips of a virtual character representing you. I loved the news of this launch because the first alpha of Flipside was launched in 2018 for PCVR. They took five years to arrive at the first full version… this is a big sign of commitment
The cyberpunk game adventure Low Fi is launching this year for PSVR 2. Low Fi had a very successful Kickstarter campaign in which it promised to immerse people in a world that seems to come directly from Blade Runner. People got excited by it, but it took so much time to develop that some people thought it was never going to deliver. Instead, the studio behind the game, Iris VR, has just announced that the game is finally coming out this year. I’m pretty excited about that!
More info (Flipside VR)
More info (Low Fi)
Some news on content
Upload VR has reviewed Before Your Eyes VR, praising its very original mechanic of using the blinking of the eyes of the user to define the pace at which the story is told. The game got the “ESSENTIAL” vote
Rec Room is going to host a music festival soon
‘War Thunder’ Studio announced the PSVR 2 combat simulator game ‘Aces of Thunder’
The VR adventure “Firmament”, developed by the creators behind Myst, is releasing on May, 18th after many delays
Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game is coming exclusively to Quest 2 on March 23rd. People that preorder the game can have a discount
Guardians Frontline, a game that is a bit of a mix between Starcraft and Halo, has been positively reviewed by Upload VR
Upload has also reviewed Peaky Blinders, but in this case with a mixed opinion, because of many bugs happening here and there
Bigscreen VR is releasing new avatars with arms, hands, and eye tracking
VR farming sim, Across the Valley, arrives on PSVR 2 and PC VR on April 6th
Niantic’s new virtual AR pet game Peridot is launching on May 9th.
More info (Before Your Eyes VR)
More info (Rec Room)
More info (Aces Of Thunder)
More info (Firmament)
More info (Stellaris)
More info (Guardians: Frontline)
More info (Bigscreen)
More info (Across The Valley)
More info (Peaky Blinders)
More info (Peridot)
This is one of the coolest pieces of AR content of this week
Unity Creator Spotlight on Among Us VR is a goldmine of good suggestions on how to make and ship a good VR game
Meta Quest developers are complaining about the spam reviews that are affecting the Meta Store
Decentraland is hosting the Metaverse Fashion Week this 2023, with a focus on interoperability
News from partners (and friends)
MoonVR’s cool update
MoonVR video player recently released its latest update which extended format support to almost all video types. It is now compatible with:
Almost every codec
UHD, 8k, and 12k playback
All projection types i.e. fisheye, cube map, equirectangular, and cinema
All stereo modes i.e 3d SBS, 3d tb, flat, 180, 190, 200, 220, 360
Check it out!
Discover Fight Back VR
Fight Back VR is defined as “a VR answer to gender-based violence”. Through an interesting narrative, it teaches women how to perform self defense, but without being an explicit self-defense training experience. On the occasion of International Women’s day, it has been released on App Lab, so you are finally able to try it.
Discover Atomic Design’s work for the 8th of March
The agency Atomic Design has participated in the 8th of March, 8 Women project of Snap Inc. AR Studio. This project involved creating augmented reality statues of women alongside men in eight major cities in France. You can discover more on the dedicated Linkedin post that I’m sharing below.
Some XR fun
How to free yourself from annoying kids in VR like a pro
Rate my VR room
Let’s compare an HTC Vive headset with… wait what
Unreal developers can relate
Donate for good
Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate for my blog, but to the poor people that are facing the consequences of the war. Please donate to the Red Cross to handle the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I will leave you the link to do that below.
Let me take a moment before to thank anyway all my Patreon donors for the support they give to me:
Alex Gonzalez VR
Reynaldo T Zabala
Terry xR. Schussler
Nikk Mitchell and the great FXG team
Wisear (Yacine Achiakh)
Julio Cesar Bolivar
Marco “BeyondTheCastle” Arena
Ristband (Anne McKinnon & Roman Rappak)
Liam James O’Malley
And now here you are the link to donate:
Support The Red Cross in Ukraine
(Header image shared by Leila Amirsadeghi)
The post The XR Week Peek (2023.03.13): AltspaceVR shuts down, and much more! appeared first on The Ghost Howls.