VR is still a technology in its nascence, and that has lead to an exciting first year of consumer virtual reality. Today, we are reminded of the cruel reality of the challenges of being on the cutting edge of technology. AltspaceVR, the online VR community, has announced that they will be shutting down on August 3.
The company posted this statement on their official blog:
"It is with a tremendously heavy heart that we let you all know that we are closing down AltspaceVR on August 3rd, 7PM PDT. The company has run into unforeseen financial difficulty and we can’t afford to keep the virtual lights on anymore. This is surprising, disappointing, and frustrating for every one of us who have put our passion and our hopes into AltspaceVR. We know it will probably feel similarly for you.
You’ve made AltspaceVR one of the best places to be in VR (or on the internet). We won’t try to write down all of the memories that are flooding our hearts right now of all of the laughter, puns, fun and friendliness that existed in this community. There have been spontaneous concerts, new friendships, marriages, surprise serenades (looking at you Shoo Shoo!) and too many warm hugs from Claire to count. We hosted so many firsts! And we still have the record for most people in VR at one time (were any of you there at Reggie’s first performance?). We’ve also seen so many community members come into their own and host karaoke nights, improv, movie nights and meetups for people all across the globe.
We are all humbled by what you made of this virtual oasis. Thank you for spending your time building, hosting, and making the best community we could have wished for. Please take the next week to make sure those connections live on past AltspaceVR. Because if you do, then what we built will really live on.
There have been many tears and there will probably be a few more to come. We’ve given up wiping off the mist that clouds our headsets. Please join us for a final farewell party on 8/3. At the end of the party, we will be shutting down AltspaceVR.
We’re a venture-backed startup. We had a supportive group of investors that last gave us money in 2015. It looked like we had a deal for our next round of funding, and it fell through. Some combination of this deal falling through and the general slowness of VR market growth made most of our investors reluctant to fund us further. We’ve been out fundraising but have run out of time and money.
Is it because the product wasn’t working?
We sure don’t think so. Around 35,000 people use our product every month, which we think is pretty good for the size of the VR market. The average user spends 35 minutes a day in AltspaceVR, and in big events we typically see around a thousand attendees. We have active developer and event organizer communities and have attracted marquee partners for our events.
What about AltspaceVR the company?
We’re not really sure yet. The amazing people that worked at this company created some awesome technology – things that we think will be foundational to the future of social VR. We’d love to see this technology, if not the company, live on in some way, and we’re working on that.
What about AltspaceVR users?
We know many of our users have created vibrant relationships in AltspaceVR, so please use the next few days to connect with those friends and hopefully find another way to stay in touch.
What about AltspaceVR photos and friend lists?
You can save all of your photos and friends list by going to https://account.altvr.com/events and clicking “Friends” and “Photos”. Click CTRL + S on PC or CMD + S on Mac. Make sure it says “Webpage complete”. The full sized images will be downloaded.
What should I do if I created an SDK app?
First, major thanks to our developer community for making AltspaceVR a wonderful and interesting place to be. Most people in AltspaceVR spent their time playing with the things that the SDK community created, with thousands of people each day enjoying apps built on our flavor of the VR web.
We are excited about the future of WebVR, and encourage you to look at what our friends have been doing at A-Frame, MozillaVR, and Chrome. As our SDK apps are built on three.js and A-Frame, it would be wonderful to see your apps live on in other browsers. Our existing open source repos will be kept open as long as we can, but feel free to fork them if you would like to ensure continued access.
We will keep the AltspaceVR SDK Slack going until Thursday 8/3, and we hope to see you around the web in places like the A-Frame Slack or the WebVR Slack. Please take the time to connect with each other, we really hope the great connections made through this community live on."
Funding for VR and AR has dropped precipitously in 2017, and it seems like another great company is being shut down. Many of the apps made for the platform will be able to live on in various other VR browsers, but this is definitely a deflating moment for VR enthusiasts. We want to highlight just how amazing the past few years have been in AltspaceVR and showcase just how groundbreaking of a platform they truly were.
Shacknews first tried out the social VR platform in a demo at GDC 2015. Here is our interview with Bruce Wooden about AltspaceVR.
I even attended an AltspaceVR Townhall and took a selfie in VR for the first time.
Reggie Watts has performed multiple times in AltspaceVR.
Even recently, Bill Nye the Science Guy had a special event in Altspace VR.
Shacknews salutes everyone at AltspaceVR. Early VR developers like your team have provided the building blocks for a revolution in software development. Thank you for providing the world with such a fun and exciting way to engage real people in virtual reality. AltspaceVR's social impact will resonate in VR experiences for years to come.
News like this reminds us of this quote from Steve Jobs that is on the wall outside of the auditorium at Apple Inc. Headquarters Building 4 on Infinite Loop in Cupertino. To the folks at AltspaceVR, we can't wait to see what you come up with next.
You only have a few more days to experience AltspaceVR if you have a Gear VR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive . It is free to download!