Oculus had announced almost a year ago now that they planned to take their Oculus Avatars system cross-platform. Now, with last week’s release of Oculus Avatar SDK 1.28, the package is finally ready to be deployed cross-platform, meaning that Oculus games also offered on other platforms can use a unified avatar system.

Oculus invested in building a platform-level avatar system to allow users to create a consistent representation of themselves that could be used across various games in the Oculus ecosystem while saving developers from needing to build their own avatar system for each game.

Unfortunately, while they are arguably some of the best looking avatars out there, Oculus Avatars has seen minimal adoption, due in part to the fact that it has been restricted to titles on the Oculus platform. Since cross-platform distribution is critical for developers at this stage in the VR market, implementing Oculus Avatars into apps which would ultimately be distributed on other platforms like SteamVR would mean extra work, as the developer would need to implement Oculus Avatars for the Oculus version of the app, and a separate avatar system for the non-Oculus version of the app.

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With the release of the Oculus Avatar SDK 1.28, developers can finally build Oculus Avatars into their apps for cross-platform use, meaning apps can rely on a unified avatar system whether they’re distributed through the Oculus Store, SteamVR, or elsewhere. This also makes things potentially easier for apps which have cross-play (multiplayer between platforms). Oculus says cross-platform support for their Avatars system has been “one of [developers’] biggest requests.”

Even with the move to cross-platform support, Oculus Avatars themselves are configured at the platform level and tied to an Oculus user account; players do their avatar customizations in Oculus Home rather than inside individual apps. That means that non-Oculus users can’t make their own custom avatars, and will instead be stuck choosing from pre-configured avatars offered through each app.

Oculus says they’re “in the early stages of building out richer avatar support for non-Oculus users,” so perhaps in the future they will also make avatar customization cross-platform (let’s just hope it doesn’t take another year). The company also says they’re continuing to invest in the Oculus Avatars system, including working toward “developer-created avatar content” for game-specific avatar customization.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Gerald Terveen

    sounds good – but seems they are still too far away from a true universal integration to really driver developer adoption. I suspect we really need an independent solution like gravatar for vr

  • gothicvillas

    Why all avatars look like nerds? What about eerm normal looking people?

  • Lucio Lima

    These avatars are too ridiculous!

  • Raphael

    What a pile of shite.

  • jj

    Dear Oculus,
    Who the f cares?

  • Darshan

    Avatar need to be looking like… Avatar means incarnation of user.. So oculus need an AI Server with Deep learning which can turn photo graphs from front and side submitted by user to turn them in to avatar. May be then people bother about it being cross platform or not. Tell me is it already there???

    • Mr. Moon

      They will not offer that soon they will wait second generation headsets before going full on, the current generation quality not going to bring mainstream adoption.

      The GPU’s still not good enough to bring VR to the mainstream, so we talking about 2021 when suddenly VR takes over with much faster adoption than consoles.

    • kontis

      VRChat proves that people don’t really want to look like themselves in VR and often prefer to be someone else, that they can’t be in real life.

  • impurekind

    Where do you access these from? I don’t see them on my typical Rift setup (I’m using the old Home menu).

    • madeline

      It’s in the beta version of the home menu.