AltspaceVR, the virtual reality social network that hosts events like stand-up comedy or presidential debate-watching parties, is now part of Microsoft. After a sudden shutdown due to a drop in funding in July, the free VR community was in “deep discussions” with unknown parties to keep it online. It originally looked like Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey might step in and save the community, but Microsoft has now come to the rescue.
The team at AltspaceVR are now joining Microsoft. “With the AltspaceVR team aboard we look forward to building the world’s preeminent mixed reality community,” says Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s inventor of HoloLens. “AltspaceVR will stay AltspaceVR. Microsoft is most interested in preserving the current community that uses AltspaceVR to connect and interact with new and old friends,” says a Microsoft spokesperson. “These first few months will focus on fostering our community and making sure AltspaceVR remains a friendly, welcoming and vibrant place to hang out in virtual reality.”
AltspaceVR has hosted comedians Reggie Watts and Drew Carey, and science personality Bill Nye. AltspaceVR even partnered with NBC News to host live events during the 2016 presidential election. The platform has been an open VR social space since 2015, accessible through the Oculus Rift, Gear VR, HTC Vive, and other headsets.
Microsoft has no plans to kill off the AltspaceVR, or stop it working on rival VR platforms. “AltspaceVR will continue to work on PC and Mac in 2D mode, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Daydream by Google, and Samsung Gear VR,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.