AltspaceVR to close next week

Women in VR. (Image courtesy AltspaceVR

AltspaceVR will close its doors next Thursday, August 3, because it ran out of money.

“We can’t afford to keep the virtual lights on anymore,” the company said in a note posted last night.

I’ve been writing about the company since it released its first closed beta in early 2015, and have met with their executives. I’ve used their platform with the Oculus Rift headset, with the Gear VR, and through their desktop viewer, and was impressed with their technology and business strategy.

In fact, I was thinking about launching a new community for a project I’m planning on the AltspaceVR platform.

The company was a leader in creating shared virtual reality spaces, attracting celebrities, holding high-profile events, supporting causes I care about, and making it easy for users to find things to do.

It’s absence will leave a big hole, unless a new investor decides to step in and provide more funding.

I’m actually surprised that funding fell through, given the huge amount of interest in virtual reality from venture capitalists — more than $2 billion over the last 12 months, according to Digi-Capital, and $800 million of that in the last quarter alone.

Where to go now

So if you’re an AltspaceVR user, or are just starting to get interested in social virtual reality, where do you go now?

Here are the leading alternatives:

vTime: My best pick. This platform has received a lot of media attention, and supports the widest variety of devices of any platform. It’s had more than 100,000 installs on Android alone — by comparison, AltspaceVR had fewer than 50,000 installs on Android. The vTime destinations can be accessed with Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and Daydream headsets and with Google Cardboard-compatible viewers via iOS, and Android apps.

Watch the vTime preview video below:


Other platforms:

VRChat: Currently has more than 200 virtual spaces, and allows users to use Unity to create their own. Available for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets.

myVR: A mobile-friendly virtual reality environment that runs on the Google Cardboard platform. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Facebook Spaces: Use your own photograph to create a virtual reality avatar of yourself, then hang out with your Facebook friends. Currently only works with Oculus Rift headsets, but there’s a similar platform called Oculus Rooms for Gear VR, which doesn’t have the same kind of integration with Facebook.

RecRoom: A social virtual reality space focused around playing games with your friends. Works with the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

BeanVR: This is a Chinese company, with the platform available in English and Chinese. Works with the Oculus Rift.

Still in preview: Linden Lab’s Second Life replacement, Sansar, designed to be VR-friendly from the ground up, and Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale’s new platform, High Fidelity.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

4 Responses

  1.' Peter Theanine says:

    I’d never heard of the platforms listed here before! vTime looks incredible. Very informative article.

  2.' Ross says:

    Don’t forget Geekzonia!

  3.' SkyLifeGrid says:

    How can it come down to money ? Servers are cheap enough how much System specs do you need to run the show ?

    • That’s only true when you’re running commodity software that doesn’t change much. So, for example, if you do straightforward web hosting (or OpenSim grid hosting) using free, off-the-shelf tools that you only have to tweak a little bit, and you don’t have to spend any money on marketing or development.

      AltSpaceVR was a cutting-edge platform, running proprietary software, that they were innovating constantly, and they were also doing a lot of outreach to other organizations — plus, they weren’t charging users for the service.

      This is a GREAT model for innovative startups, but only when they have enough money to keep going. Most of today’s big tech firms started out this way, using venture capital to pay for innovation, marketing, staff, and other expenses until they hit a break-even point.