Nate Mitchell of Oculus Talks About Rooms and Parties

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There has been much discussion on ways to combat the isolation of the virtual reality (VR) experience A selection of social VR apps have become available, including Feacebook Spaces and SteamVR Home. Oculus Rooms and Parties for Samsung Gear VR were also meant to be an option, but so far, those features have yet to make the jump from mobile VR to the Oculus Rift. Nate Mitchell, Head of Rift at Oculus, discusses why.

The two social features, Oculus Rooms and Parties were launched at the end of 2016 for the Samsung Gear VR. The Rooms app was designed to provide a lobby where players could meet up with their friends to decide what multiplayer title they wished to try together, perhaps even discussing teams and tactics. The Parties function, meanwhile, allowed for global VOIP chat, allowing friends to communicate with each other despite not being in the same virtual area or playing the same videogame. The convenience of the Parties function meant that users didn’t have to take off their VR headset in order to communicate.

Despite the obvious utility, those two apps have yet to make it into the Oculus Rift. Road to VR recently spoke to Nate Mitchell about the reasons for that. He first addressed criticism that Parties and Rooms should have been simple to port to Oculus Rift from Gear VR: “a couple of folks were like ‘Why would they [spend time expanding it on mobile] instead of bringing it over to PC?’. Well, realistically, with a limited team, they’re able to move much much faster on a bunch of features and get more value out to folks on the mobile side by focusing only on one platform rather than trying to bring everything over to PC simultaneously,” Mitchell said.

Then he spoke about what is coming up for Oculus Rift users socially: “We have some bigger sort of plans on the Rift side for the Rift community. There’s some things that our team has been working on for… a while now… that are really sort of the next evolution of where we think the Oculus platform on PC goes. And we can’t talk about too much of it today, but what I can say is that… we have a vision for the Oculus platform really being the epicenter for the VR community,” he said.

So, is Rooms coming to Oculus Rift? The outlook is currently still uncertain: “Rooms may still come to Rift—that’s not out of the question by any means—but I’m not sitting here today saying it’s coming in the next couple of months. So we haven’t ruled it out. I promise you—and [the Rift community] can trust me—that we’re going to be bringing some really great things to the Rift community very very soon, and then down the road Rooms still may come to PC, we’ll see.

VRFocus will continue to bring you news on developments and news about the Oculus Rift.

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