Facebook dropped the Oculus prefix for its social VR event viewing platform, rebranding it to simply Venues—another ostensible move to minimize the Oculus name (eg: Facebook Connect now, not Oculus Connect). Now the company is widening access to Venues in preparation for their upcoming flagship social VR offering, Facebook Horizon, which will likely have a bigger reveal at Connect this year.

Update (September 11th, 2020): Facebook is talking up its Venues (Beta Early Access) app in a recent blog post, releasing more information on what to expect from the social platform.

“There’s a new lobby where you can socialize before, during, and after the show—because we all know that one of the best parts of an event is chatting about the experiences with others who were there,” the company says.

Facebook says Venues will also include interactive emoji expressions, confetti rain, fist bumps, high fives, and the ability to take photos and selfies.

Access to Venues is being expanded to more people, Facebook says, and will continue “in the coming weeks.”

Original Article (August 14th, 2020): Now simply named Venues, an early access beta version of the social VR app is currently rolling out. The app is being released to only a few users at this time though, so you may not find that big blue ‘Download’ button on Venue’s new Oculus Store page.

Although likely still a work in progress, many of the avatars appear to be very similar, if not identical, to the ones seen in Facebook Horizon promo material.

Facelift notwithstanding, Facebook is still using Venues for social live event viewing, including sports, concerts, and standup comedy. Although we haven’t had a chance to go hands-on yet, the Beta Early Access version seems to include a more robust avatar creator and multiple environments, including lobbies for informal chats and more intimate viewing areas for groups.

SEE ALSO
Former HTC CEO Unveils 5G-enabled VR Headset & Social VR Platform

Notably, Venues still requires a Facebook login, something that seems to have created a backlash from users on the original app, which may explain its nearly a [2/5] star rating. That’s unlikely to change, as Facebook Horizon inevitably brings Oculus users ever closer to the mothership.

Neither Facebook Horizon nor the new Venues have general release dates yet, so there’s no telling how the two will hook into each other. We’re hoping to learn more at Oculus Connect 7, which will be held digitally this year.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • Ad

    I do not get these people who bought an underpriced monopoly headset made by Facebook that Facebook has total control over, and then are surprised they need an account. The question now is whether Horizons will be a worse version of Rec Room, a sad Ready Player One attempt, or a serious attempt at that “metaverse” meme.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Oh please, get your head out of your ass.. Vive also comes with its Viveport, Index comes with SteamVR. so every headset has it’s own store now, and when you buy an Oculus headset you can use SteamVR. And without Steam (for which you also need an account), the Index is also rather useless..

      • Ad

        You apparently misunderstood. Putting aside that you can use steamVR without steam, and the idea that Steam is the same as Facebook is idiotic, I’m not talking about an oculus account, I’m talking about the Facebook account. That’s that people are mad about. Why are you being such a contrarian on something so obvious. Even the people who like Facebook say that the quest is loss leading so they need to make sure you buy stuff on their platform.

        • MeowMix

          Putting aside that you can use steamVR without steam

          I’ve seen this mentioned before, but have yet to see it become reality.

          Those using Lighthouse based headsets still have to connect to STEAM for STEAMVR updates (so that kinda nixes the whole idea of not needing steam). And those using Lighthouse based headsets buy an overwhelming majority of their games on STEAM anyways (so why wouldn’t they be using STEAM and thus have a STEAM account).

          So while that talking point looks good on paper, it doesn’t look to be the case in actual real world scenarios.

          • Anonmon

            Do those constant hardware updates actually do anything? Frankly I see zero reason why the lighthouses need updating, ever. They’re a couple of spinning lazers, it’s hardly something that needs a ton of software that would need updates to make work. Same thing with something like the vive wands. There shouldn’t be anything to update by this point. Knuckles controllers MAYBE, because that finger tracking is still a little finicky, but beyond things like that this constant obsession with constant updates for things that don’t need updates is just that, an obsession.
            I’ll give you that SteamVR updates coming from Steam proper, but I don’t think using SteamVR is as much of a hard requirement to even use a Vive or a Index as it is with Facebooks headsets and Oculus’s runtime. If something doesn’t exist it’s purely due to apathy with SteamVR working so well for people. Maybe this will change once OpenXR gets properly up and running.

          • Rogue Transfer

            In actual real world scenario, you can simply run most VR games(either from Steam or itch.io, or any other source) direct from their exe, which will launch SteamVR without Steam running.

            I tend to use organised shortcuts in folders on the desktop to do this, as it reduces the time & overhead of launching Steam, when it’s not necessary for nearly all titles.

            Another nice benefit is that you can keep multiple SteamVR versions and if the latest causes issues, you can just run another one from another folder.

            It’s always good to be informed by trying before commenting. That way you don’t show any ignorance.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Because you can launch it outside of steam, doesn’t mean it doesn’t require steam.. Mostly you’re already automatically logged in, and steam IS used for a lot of games.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Why do you think the Quest is sold at a loss? The hardware used doesn’t cost what the headset costs to us users. I do not doubt it won’t have a large profitmargin (at least not when it was first released). And there is no need for a facebook account to use the Oculus Quest..

          • Ad

            Every journalist I’ve seen has been quite clear that the quest cannot be making much of any money. They all identify it as a loss leader which more than makes sense considering it’s only $400 and the next one is expected to be even cheaper. As for needing a Facebook account, literally read the article which talks about exactly that.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            What do journalists know (especially these days, which aren’t really journalists but mostly bloggers).. And you’re not forced to have a facebook account to use the Quest (yeah, maybe this app, but good luck playing a lot of games on steam without a steam account)..

          • marcandrdsilets

            @andrewjakobs:disqus You are saving me a lot of time, I would write the exact same things but it’s way quicker to like your comment ;)

          • leveler

            Let’s not forget that if you want to play with friends you have to. It’s such a critical feature that I consider their trojan horse to make people use Facebook.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Depends on WHAT you want to play with friends… You can use steam.

          • leveler

            come on, nobody in their right mind would buy a quest to use it ONLY
            with link. if you have a quest it’s possible that you’ll make or connect
            a Facebook account cause its standalone multiplayer games and obviously
            Venues (and horizon, and social features) require a Facebook account

          • LuigiMario

            Actually Quest is sold at a profit. Check the BOM, ask around, there’s nothing with unknown price tag in it.

  • MeowMix

    I hope Venues on Oculus GO maintains legacy support. The new Venues looks great, but losing Venues on GO would be a big loss for those of us that still use it.

  • Anonmon

    Do any of these VR social applications ever get any traction? From what I knew, the only relevant game in town was VRchat, because a social ‘platform’ lives and dies by its userbase, and if practically no one’s using it, then it might as well not exist. And I never hear anyone talk about any sort of VR social software beyond a currently dead curiosity that isn’t VRchat.
    Personally, if I can’t directly upload avatars 100% created by myself to whatever is on offer, it’s dead before it even begins.

    • Blaexe

      Rec Room. One of the most popular VR apps.

      • Rogue Transfer

        Which appears to be a major influence on the design of the above Venues. Facebook looking to cut out the social competition, by cloning Rec Room. It’s one of their business strategies, if they can’t buy out someone.

      • Adrian Meredith

        I enjoy rec room but the quest version is so bad (I use virtual desktop instead)

    • marcandrdsilets

      I think that a social platform that is integrated to you headset, that use the same login account, same avatar and don’t require any aditionnal 3rd party download would work.

      I’ve played rec room and tried vr chat but I’ll say that the new Venues app feels great. Sur it will probably locked to your facebook account but the ability qui quickly meet someone in a VR room is something that is missing right now.

      I could easily see myself talking to a friend on facebook and just say “Hey! Want to meet in vr?” click on one button (on my pc or smartphone) and already be connected together once I put my vr headset on.It would remove all the “friction” that is created by vr for social interaction.

  • So, the Oculus name has disappeared from Venues, that probably will become a part of Horizon, so under the Facebook naming

    • Rogue Transfer

      I think we’re going to see more of this gradual fading out of the Oculus name in software titles from Facebook now. After all, Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear, that he wants the Facebook teams to get the credit they deserve for making the services he runs.

      Especially, as they push towards the general consumer with social integration of VR into their platform. Changing the focus brand to Facebook will reach a larger section of general FB users who would otherwise be less interested in something labelled ‘Oculus’.

      • Anonmon

        And in equal part push people away who are blissfully unaware that Oculus is for all practical purposes Facebook wearing a cheap dollar store mask. Facebook knows their name is mud to anybody with the tiniest understanding of what Facebook is, which also happens to be most tech enthusiasts.
        They’re going to have to be extremely careful with when they eventually drop the awkward pretense, as any point sooner than when we have full mass market acceptance of VR as a thing everybody has, side stepping the small group of tech enthusiast users that inherently are largely going to be the same kind of people who see Facebook as nothing but a negative, they could potentially shoot themselves in the foot hard enough to completely ruin themselves in VR if done spectacularly poorly enough.
        There’s a reason why they don’t usually rebrand their acquisitions to be “Facebook’s Instagram” or the like after purchase.

        • Hokhmah

          I’m completely with you. Just like you said the VR user base is mostly tech-savvy people who are curious and like to try newest tech. On the same side these people share a specific mindset that isn’t compatible with Facebook’s company philosophy.

          I also only stay in the Oculus system cause I like their headsets in terms of price/perf ratio and some of the exclusives are really nice (although I hate exclusives in general, just like with Sony/PS). As soon as they go full Facebook they will lose me. My only hope is that there will be more than enough hard- and software to choose from that can compete with Oculus.

          On the other side pushing OpenXR and even having considerations to open up their ecosystem for other headsets seem promising but we will see what the future brings. I’m sure that in a big company like FB there exist different mindsets even in the same team like the Oculus branch. In the end someone higher up decides the course of the road.

  • marcandrdsilets

    Tried it yesterday and it’s actually pretty good. The avatar system is very, very nice. It works better than the previous one. The eye contact between user feels very good too. At first I was having my mic closed cause I just wanted to see how it was looking and move around. After like 10 min I was talking with complete strangers while looking at some ‘live’ jellyfish footage ;)

  • Pikapetey

    but I don’t want to be a cartoon human in VR. I want to be a dapper little humming bird or a walking cartoon dog.

  • Jim P

    I guess people that have this media doesn’t like what I posted before. I said I have been in FB jail many times speech police ( there is a book on that doesn’t end well). But I got into the new venue. Glad to see hardly no one their. FB needs to get rid of the GOD complex.

  • notRobot2

    The sister of wife of M@rkZuckerberg runs a cannibaI restaurant (of human fIesh) & her job is to supply the ‘meat’ . (cannibalclub.org). The guy may be drinking adren0Chr0me (made from t0rtured chiId’s bI00d) as he looks so young like a teenager similar to hollywood stars , top politicians & wealthy in US&Europe. 800000 kids kidnapped in US alone, more all over the world. The perennial wars by US&EU may be also for supplying the kids for the consumption of the top world’s elite to make them remain young & defy old age & to rule the world.
    I ask some game co. to make an MMORPG game on this to search, destroy & kiII the $atanists with quests on capture of Weinstein,BiIIgatesofHeII, Clintons, 0bama, prince Andrew & suicide of J.Ep$tein. Can have episode locations of (US bases) Mideast, afganistan, korea, china, hongkong, ukraine (with bribing),USA, Europe, l$rael ending at J.Epstein’s island of Little saint James(can be called as Little Angels island) where the temple to satanic M0l0chBaal can be shown same as it is with entrance from only submarine tunnel & a separate underwater ritual chamber. Mabbee some Russian game company can make a Call of Duty type similar game as it involves ClA & m0$$ad.

    • Robin Pittman

      What the fuck did I just read?

  • Damian

    I will start by saying that I was a huge Venues 1.0. fan. The recent NBA games had an unbelievable sense of presence that made it seem as though he were actually there again. My only complaint with the original version of the application was that there was no way to watch the event exclusively with a small or medium-size group of your Oculus friends. You had to be entirely solo viewing, or entirely mixed in with everyone else. The full-blown social experience was actually cool most of the time, but it could get a bit tedious at times, when large numbers of people, seemingly trying the application for the first time, keep popping in and out of seats around you trying to talk to you, while you are trying to watch the event. A private “box” or “suite” mode would fix that very easily. And it goes without saying that the avatars in 1.0 were a bit static.

    Moving on to Venues Beta… The lobby is amazing, and looks like the beginnings of a Metaverse from “Ready Player One”. Super cool. The new avatar design is also super cool. Very expressive and they really add to a sense of presence.

    After that however, the experience completely falls apart. Once you enter the actual venue itself, everything turns terrible. The new “venue” seems a bit like a 16 bit cartoon castle from an early 1990s videogame, and it feels nothing like an actual real seated experience in a stadium or concert venue.

    The absolute most disastrous part of the whole thing, is that they have eliminated the concept of seats and rows. Now, everybody just sort of meanders to the edge of this platform, and hovers. People can slide and teleport around all over the place, and constantly obstruct your view. The venue has 2 stories, with an elevator that lets you move between them. The upper level has a “balcony” with a small number of what appear to be low-profile “stools”, vaguely reminiscent of the “Mayor McCheese” seats from a 1980s McDonald’s playland.

    The experience is absolutely ruined by the fact that the scale of the 16 bit structure maps incredibly poorly with the 3-D video feed. Unlike venues 1.0, when you were sitting in a stadium-like seat, you actually felt like you were there and part of the live experience. The current iteration feels like you are crawling around a 16 bit structure, with an out of scale video feed out on the horizon, that really doesn’t even feel like it’s 3-D due to the distorted difference in scale between the structure itself and objects in the video feed. It really looks much more like 2 dimensions. Add to that, that there are super Mario esque cartoon characters running around all over the place, often times obstructing your view, and the whole experience just turns soul crushing.

    Venues 1.0 really felt like a taste of the future, but the current beta really feels like a hard pivot in the wrong direction with respect to the venue environment itself. Extremely disappointed. I am really hopeful that others feel the same way, that people speak up, and that Facebook changes course back to something that is a little bit more iterative of the original venue design— at least with respect to the venue itself.