Oculus Cinema is a first-party VR application that recreates the experience of having your own personal cinema or leather chair adorned home theater. And while it’s great to feel like you’re sitting in front of a massive screen, what fun is it alone? Oculus understands that movie-going is not a solo activity and says that they’re building online multiplayer and social features into the app.
Those with Samsung’s Gear VR headset have been able to step into Oculus Cinema since day one; the app is part of a host of first-party applications from Oculus (who collaborated with Samsung on Gear VR) and it has pulls out all the stops to make a graphically impressive experience, surrounding the viewer with rows of seats in detailed environments that even reflect the ambient light from the movie on the screen. Only one problem—the theaters are empty of even a single human soul beyond your own.
And this puts the current incarnation of Oculus Cinema in a curious place. For a bulk of users, movie-going is a social experience. If Oculus really wants to create a VR movie theater, they need to account for that aspect of the activity.
And account for it they shall, according to Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey, who told Road to VR at this week’s Gamescom 2015 that the company recognizes the need to make Oculus Cinema social.
“That’s definitely the point of Oculus Cinema. It’s not that you want to replicate the experience of being in a movie theater alone, you want to replicate the experience of being in a movie theater or home theater with all of your friends,” Luckey said.
With that, the company is building out social features that it plans to roll out in the near future.
“So we already have a lot of internal social functions in Cinema that are going to be rolling out in the next few months. Things like avatar systems, being able to communicate with people over long distances… rather than just local multiplayer, but having actual long distant multiplayer as well.”
Luckey affirmed that Oculus Cinema would also be coming to the Oculus Rift at launch saying that “what’s going to be shipping with the [consumer] Rift has a lot more [social features] built-in than the versions of Oculus Cinema that are shipping right now [on Gear VR],” including several features that he says are yet unannounced.
What kind of feature parity will be seen between the Gear VR and Rift versions of Oculus Cinema remains to be seen. Of particular interest will be whether or not the social features will work across the two platforms.