You left too soon, AltSpace.
In the massive spectrum of apps you can experience in VR, social VR is often the most interesting. So many games played on consoles and phones are deeply social now, with multiplayer as the default and exciting ways to share games together in person, but doing all of that in VR is a little more complicated. Not every headset lets you get up and walk around, but every VR experience in a virtual room with someone else is a unique opportunity to explore a new world with new friends.
The best social VR app by far was AltSpace, but now that it is shutting down there’s a need to find some compelling alternatives. Here’s what we’d recommend!
One of the biggest features to AltSpace was its ubiquity, and the only other social VR app that comes close is vTime. This app allows Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard (Apple and Android), and Google Daydream users to all come together in four-user rooms to chat and share together.
Through vTime, you can create a cartoon-ish human avatar and chat in many different rooms across a large network. These rooms offer a boatload of different features, including sharing 360-degree photos with the room and sharing videos together. This is very much a seated VR experience, so don’e expect to be able to move around as much as you may be used to for now.
HTC Vive and PlayStation VR users aren’t currently supported officially, but if you’re familiar with the ReVive mod for SteamVR you’ll be able to use vTime just fine on your Vive.
If you’re eager to have some fun with your friends while hanging out in the same room, Oculus and Vive owners should consider Rec Room. This app allows many friends to get together in, well, a rec room of sorts. You can play Disc Golf, Paintball, Charades, and several co-op “missions” together.
It’s a free app, but limited to Oculus and HTC hardware for the time being. If you’re a fan of playing lots of different mini-games with your friends in VR, this is well worth checking out.
SteamVR Home Beta
As the name suggests, this social VR experience is limited to anyone using SteamVR. That means mostly HTC Vive users, but the software is also open to any Oculus rift users interested in installing SteamVR.
Home is built right into the SteamVR Launcher, as the name suggests, and is all about offering a social home for users to enjoy together. Individual spaces can be personalized and shared with friends, and once connected you and your friends can join multiplayer games together as well as enjoy photos and videos together.
It’s unlikely SteamVR Home will ever be available to anything other than VR hardware that Steam supports, but if that’s where your friends hang out this is a great option for you.
Facebook Spaces Beta
It’s like Facebook, but all around you! Ok, so maybe it’s a little more complicated. Facebook Spaces takes your virtual self and gives you lots of virtual places to hang out in with your friends. You can take virtual selfies, watch 360-degree photos or videos, and draw on the world in VR. If that doesn’t entertain you, video chatting with your friends outside of VR is also a thing you can do as well as share directly to Facebook.
The only real downside to Facebook Spaces right now is who can use it. Right now this Beta is limited to Oculus Rift users, but it’s likely to open up to more headsets when Facebook drops the Beta tag.