Wave, the virtual venue & virtual event production company formerly known as TheWaveVR, has moved away from virtual reality over the last two years in favor of distributing its virtual performances to a broader audience through non-immersive media channels. The company today announced that it has “de-prioritized” its VR app, which will officially shut down at the end of March. Wave says the move will allow it to focus on bringing “more fans [to] experience our virtual events on popular streaming platforms.”
Founded in 2016, Wave has raised some $40 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase, to chase its vision of virtual concerts as the future of music performances. The company has produced virtual events headlined by well known artists like John Legend and Lindsey Stirling. Performances are rendered in real-time, with artists donning mo-cap suits and face-tracking tech to bring their likeness into the virtual world as their avatars perform in fantastical virtual venues.
At the outset, the company’s platform was built to be immersive and interactive—even allowing users to host their own performances—with audiences joining the venue via virtual reality through the Wave Beta app which launched on Steam in 2017 and Oculus PC in 2018.
But with VR’s relatively slow adoption, the company realized it wasn’t reaching the scale of audience that it needed. Wave began focusing its efforts on broadcasting the virtual productions beyond virtual reality so that a wider audience could enjoy the show. Now the company says its fully focused on delivering virtual productions through traditional channels, like livestreams, and will be shutting down its VR app at the end of March.
The primary reason, the company maintains, is that part of its VR app relies on Google’s 3D model hosting platform, Poly (which itself is shutting down); Wave says it doesn’t have the resources to build a new solution into the app. The company contends that its best option is to shutter the app for now, and promises to do “everything we can to one day bring back [the VR experience] in an even more evolved form.”
Wave CEO & co-founder Adam Arrigo publicly shared the following note:
We founded Wave almost five years ago to connect humanity through immersive music experiences. That journey started in the VR space, with our community-driven VR app on Steam, and it’s been rewarding watching our community of creators use our tools to host their own VR concerts. We never foresaw the incredible things people would create, and often attending those shows felt like peering into the future of live music / visual art performance and being blown away by the result.
Two years ago we pivoted out of VR into gaming and live-streaming, as the VR industry didn’t develop as quickly as we’d hoped. Artists need audiences to thrive, and we realized VR just wasn’t there yet, and there was a bigger opportunity for artists outside headsets. Even though ti doesn’t fit our current business model, we’ve kept TheWaveVR app and servers running just because the community in there has made such inspiring stuff. Unfortunately we built the user tools on top of Google Poly, which is shutting down.
As much as we’d love to, we aren’t able to spend the resources to build a new backend pipeline, since we are already spread so thin trying to accomplish our current set of non VR objectives. We are still a relatively small startup. The hardest part of running a startup is choosing what to focus on, which has led us to the difficult decision to sunset TheWaveVR app on Steam and Oculus.
Even though this means the Wave VR shows will come to a pause, we think this is the best decision for the long term future of the Wave community, and we promise to do everything we can to one day bring back this experience in an even more evolved form. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for joining us for all those multi-hour VR raves and for helping us craft this vision of the future of music and art. We hope you’ll join us for this next chapter.