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.
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.