This week, Oculus VR launched Oculus Social, a platform for Samsung’s Gear VR viewer.
With Oculus Social, Gear VR users can create their own social profiles and seek out friends via real names or handles similar to that of Twitter.
Despite the fact that Oculus VR has yet to release its actual virtual reality headset, it continues to release games to encourage that people begin friending each other using Oculus Social. Games include Herobound: Gladiators and Social Trivia.
Herobound: Gladiators is a multiplayer game in which players take up arms to fight mythical creatures in the fighting pits of arena battlefields. Goblins and demons abound.
Social Trivia is exactly what it sounds like: friends sit down at a virtual table for a battle of wits and memory.
Interestingly, Oculus Social has recently been revamped with a virtual room setting that allows friends to create rooms in which they can hang out with their friends and watch web content together like Twitch streams or Facebook videos.
That’s another thing: the team has already deployed a Facebook Video tab in Oculus Social. Within the week, Oculus Social will provide users with the ability to sync their Facebook profiles with their Oculus Social profiles, enabling them to personalize their feeds of 360 video content. In the weeks to come, Oculus Social with allow users to like and share Facebook 360 videos.
Facebook has had its eyes on virtual reality since the famous kickstarter for Oculus Rift hit record numbers of donated funds. Many believe that virtual reality will be the next social media frontier.
Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, believes that Facebook plans to use Oculus Social to modify the “inherently exclusionary nature of VR.”
“First, the company indicated that Oculus users will be able to share space in VR, interacting socially, chatting, watching films and competing in trivia games,” he stated. “Second, the company announced a multiplayer game service that appears to make use of some social features, though details on that appear sketchy.”
The capacity to offer social experiences may be the factor that pushes VR from techie fantasy to a prominent position in the mainstream. The new technology must find a way to guide potential markets across the divide between 2D screens and 3D experiences.
“Rather than consider it a hardware peripheral, we should be looking at it as a standalone hardware device just like TV or computers,” she continued. “This is the beginning of a completely new way to consume media- at least once adoption reaches critical mass.”
King believes that VR will rise as a continuation of trends that have already been in progress for decades. He doesn’t see the large leap between its adoption and where we are today:
“Virtual reality technology has been around in one form or another for the better part of three decades, and much of what Facebook and Oculus are doing is derivative of those past efforts,” he explained. “But multiplayer online gaming and immersive social experiences also have a lengthy history.”