The trimming of Social VR platforms

Bi-weekly update with the latest insights from the Metaverse: news, posts, creations and communities.

Lots of things have happened over the last fortnight, specially in the Social VR space. More platforms are transitioning as they can’t find a viable business model in today’s market while others launch to keep on trying. We’ve also seen the largest in-VR conference that happened over multiple Social VR platforms at the same time. It’s a very important milestone and proves the utility and importance of these platforms. I don’t believe the idea in itself of Social VR will fade away, but the different platforms do need to understand what their main focus is (what problem they’re trying to solve) keeping in mind the current use case of XR and its market size.

There continue to be interesting projects and conversations happening in the space and I encourage you to read along to learn more about them!

On the news

  • Janus transitions to a community project: Like with other Social VR platforms, Janus hasn’t been able to figure things out in a financial sense. The VR market is quite small and general multiplayer applications with no specific use case are struggling to make ends meet. I’m quite sad about this as it’s also one of the most powerful WebXR platforms out there, the team is outstanding. Good thing is, as it was built on the Web and open source, they’ve been able to transition to a community project and keep all those wonderful creations live! This is a good argument in favour of the Web as an underlying platform for XR content, but also proves the good faith behind the Janus team. Thank you! [Link]

  • Sansar loses support from Linden Labs: A second round of lay-offs and further comments made by the company indicate that Linden Labs will no longer financially support Sansar. Another Social VR platform that is seeing it’s last few weeks. Linden do say that they are trying to search for other financial backers, but no further comment there. We’ll continue to see how this develops, but it seems like the timing just wasn’t right for pure Social VR. [Link]

  • Decentraland and Somnium Space 2.0 are live: As some platforms close, others continue to give it a go. These 2 are blockchain-based (Ethereum) platforms where you need to buy land or avatars. I’m not a big fan of limiting digital platforms in this way when the Web allows for infinite interconnected worlds for cheap, but there might be a use case. Decentraland definitely has the money and a decently sized community. Somnium has VR support and possibly more features. I wish them luck and will follow attentively how it goes. [Link]

  • The first massive conference in VR just happened: The Educators in VR International Summit, which I already talked about in this newsletter, happened last week. A 6 day conference that happened on multiple Social VR platforms 24h a day. What a feat. I think there’s no doubt that this is a viable solution today, so I expect to see in-VR events growing pretty quickly. [Link]

  • Magic Leap now wants to be more developer friendly: Magic Leap is finally making it easier for developers to get hold of a headset. They now have an application process to try to get one. They’re also holding private events at their HQ for developers. They’ve been shying away from getting too close to developers from the beginning as they have always been a very private company. That has also meant thought that many developers couldn’t afford to bet on their platform. I’m not sure if this will be enough. [Link]

  • Croquet, tool for multiuser application, launches: They’ve also announced a $2.7M round. Their SDK, with an important focus on XR, allows developers to build live collaboration applications. It seems to work for all kinds of use cases and data being shared between active users. This tooling is certainly critical and the space is starting to get crowded, we’ll have to see how it pans out. [Link]

Food for thought

  • The Digital Afterlife wants to help manage your digital assets after you pass away: Liv Erikson from Mozilla Hubs and others have started this very interesting project. Until the Internet, and specifically social media, our identity was tied mostly to government documents. Handling a person passing away was mostly up to the government. But now we have pieces of our identity, valuable data, spread out throughout many organizations in the digital realm. Social networks have set their own policy on what happens with an account after the owner passes away, but we need to think about this more carefully. We’re sharing more and more data, it will increase dramatically and get more personal with XR, and it can’t be up to specific private companies what happens with our data. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Normcore offers free multiplayer capabilities for your Unity apps: I was recently taught that the makers behind Half + Half, a creative social VR experience, also offer a tool called Normcore. It’s for Unity developers to have everything they might need for a multiplayer application like avatars, voice, physics... It comes with a free tier and it’s pricing plan is quite inexpensive. [Link]

  • Aragon Court is the world’s first digital jurisdiction: Wait, what? A digital jurisdiction? For those who haven’t heard about Aragon, it’s a blockchain-based network and tool to create so called DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations). These can be organizations of any kind from a family unit to a government to a company. With Aragon, you can easily manage your group with the assurances of a blockchain that substitutes the bureaucracy from the old world. But what if there’s a dispute in an organization or between organizations? That’s where Aragon Court comes in. It’s a decentralized platform to handle these disputes in a manner very akin to traditional judiciary systems. I can’t wait to start creating and participating in XR communities that are DAOs. [Link]

  • Metachromium is an XR browser that can run multiple apps: Exokit has made another an interesting WebXR/OpenXR browser that supports running several apps at the same time. It also supports QR code detection which would make it work with crypto wallets. It’s still in development but I’m very excited as it can become a great way to prototype very ambitious XR applications. It’s the base application we need to build interconnected XR worlds. [Link]

  • Anytype.io is your home on the Internet where you control your data: It’s like Notion, but it becomes your homepage on the Internet while controlling all your data. It’s still in early access and I haven’t personally received an invite, so I can’t vouch for it. But there aren’t many privacy-based applications with a great UI, so I’m definitely interested. [Link]

  • Accounts for your web apps where people control their data with Userbase: It’s end-to-end encrypted and open sourced. Your users’ data is saved in the browser and accessed I guess using the PostMessage API. You can either host the server yourself or pay Userbase to make it serverless. I’ve built prototype identity systems following this model and I’m confident it’s the way forward for UX and privacy. [Link]


Share

Thanks for tuning in, that’s it for today. If you find anything interesting that we should post in the next one, reach out via Twitter or Email.

See you in 2 weeks!

Alberto