By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
I’ve often said that I’m not really impressed by virtual reality as a storytelling platform. But to witness an event like a sporting contest, VR could be the next best thing to being there. And Facebook knows it.
Back in 2017, the social media giant launched Facebook Spaces, a social media virtual reality portal that would allow members to meet up with each other in the virtual space. This is the main reason why Facebook laid down nearly $2 Billion to buy Oculus, because they foresee members wanting to live within the virtual space as much or more as they do within the standard social media platform.
But this week, the company took things to the next level by launching Oculus Venues, a service that would enable users to attend live performances anywhere in the world, and interact with each other as they do. Venues would provide virtual coverage of live performances, concerts, media events and sports and give users the best seat in the house through their Oculus Virtual Reality headset. Venues will also support Samsung Gear VR, as well at launch. Samsung Gear VR is powered by Oculus, so that makes a lot of sense.
To enjoy the Venues experience, users must have an Oculus Avatar that connects an Oculus VR account to the user’s Facebook account. Once everything is in order, users are then directed to watching a so-called “Code of Conduct” video, explaining what constitutes inappropriate behavior within Venues that could get the users kicked out. I’m guessing they don’t want other members to have to witness virtual reality sex from the grand,stands during a break in the real action.
After agreeing to the code of conduct, users are then routed to their virtual “seat” which is on the sidelines of the event itself. The cool thing about this is that users won’t end up in the cheap seats, and in fact, Venues encourages to get up and select a new seat with a button at the bottom of the page. That’s pretty cool. Users can also meet and talk during the event like they would, sitting in the real thing. Or, if you want privacy, you can simply turn off social sharing and enjoy the event.
But as Engadget reports, while the concept is pretty cool, the actual quality of the image is rather poor, suffering from several pixelation. Additionally, the event seemed more like a low resolution version of an IMAX screen with camera angles switching, thereby taking the user out of the virtual experience.
The resolution issue is Oculus’ more pressing issue in my opinion, but I also think it’s a concert industry wide. When VR glasses are that close to your eyes, you really need to have something over 4K in the image to sufficiently suspend your disbelief. This is something that all VR headset makers are going to have to address sooner, rather than later.
Meanwhile, Facebook Venues will launch it’s first event, a Van Joy concert tonight at 7:30 pm PT. Other events are scheduled, including baseball games, movie screenings, and even comedy nights. And Venues events are currently free to all Oculus and Gear VR users.