At Connect 4 earlier this month, Oculus announced a major overhaul of their VR hub space, Oculus Home—the virtual bedrock where players find themselves when they aren’t inside of a VR game or app. The new space promises to eventually connect players together directly, but at the initial launch coming in December, players won’t be able to visit each other in real-time.
Oculus says that the overhaul of Home—which will offer a fully customizable and interactive Home base that’s interconnected with other player’s Homes—is their first step toward something like the ‘metaverse’ (essentially a spatial virtual reality internet). The company says every person’s Home will be fully persistent, meaning that even small changes are preserved automatically and indefinitely, and anyone who enters the space will see the same thing, as if it was a real place.
At launch though, the new Oculus Home will only support asynchronous social connectivity, Oculus’ Head of Rift, Nate Mitchell, told me at Connect. That means that, while a friend can come to my Home to see and interact with it, and I can go to their Home to do the same, the two of us can’t be in the same Home at the same time to talk and interact with each other in real-time.
Proper real-time social connectivity will come later down the road, Mitchell says. With the beta launch of the new Home coming in December, I would guess that real-time social connectivity won’t come until some time in 2018. Once it arrives though, exactly how many users will be able to join a single home together, is presently unknown. The current Oculus Parties system on desktop (which provides global voice chat across Oculus apps) allows a total of four players at once, so we’d hope at least that many simultaneous users would be supported in the new Home.
The Oculus Home overhaul is planned to arrive as a beta in December as part of the ‘Rift Core 2.0’ update which will include the new ‘Dash’ experience, a replacement for the Oculus Universal Menu, which will allow users to access their library of VR content from anywhere, as well as use desktop PC apps from within virtual reality.