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Facebook surges ahead in race to create metaverse

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people to accelerate its development of a so-called metaverse  – a virtual world in which people can work, game, play and even watch concerts.

The word ‘metaverse’ – made up of the prefix ‘meta’ (meaning beyond) and the stem ‘verse’ (a back-formation from “universe”) – is typically used to describe the future iteration of the internet, made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

Using technologies like virtual and augmented reality, Facebook says it hopes to create a greater sense of “virtual presence” in the metaverse that will “mimic the experience of interacting in person”.

Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its priorities, investing in virtual reality through its Oculus headsets and building VR apps for social hangouts and for the workplace.

In 2018, the tech giant expanded into VR live events, including concerts, with the launch of its social events app Oculus Venues.

Facebook invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”

The app enabled users of its Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets to watch live music and sports alongside other virtual-reality avatars.

In 2020, Occulus partnered with artist-owned streaming platform Tidal to bring a series of exclusive and intimate live performances that can be streamed in virtual reality to fans’ homes.

More recently it invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”.

However, Facebook claims the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate.

A number of massive tech-centric companies that have vested interests in music, such as Tencent and Alibaba, are also investigating how to build a metaverse.

Roblox’s global head of music told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile

Over the course of several years, Epic Games has been expanding its hugely popular online multiplayer game Fortnite to host virtual concerts and brand events within its own virtual world.

Ariana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin are among the artists that have delivered virtual concerts within the game.

Other games are getting closer to a metaverse idea, too. Roblox, for example, is an online community where people come together to play, create and explore millions of 3D virtual worlds together with their friends.

The online gaming platform has also incorporated virtual concerts into its offering with performances from the likes of  Royal Blood and Lil Nas X and Twenty One Pilots.

Roblox’s global head of music, Jon Vlassopulos, told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile.

Startup companies including Stage11, AmazeVR, Stageverse and Sensorium have also announced ambitions to develop a metaverse.

 


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F8: Facebook unveils Oculus Venues for VR live streaming

Facebook execs yesterday took the wraps off Oculus Venues, a new social events app which will deliver virtual-reality (VR) live events, including concerts and sporting events, to users of its Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets.

Oculus Venues – developed in partnership with NextVR, Live Nation’s VR company of choice – combines live social engagement with the VR event experience, allowing fans to watch live music, sports and comedy along with their friends and potentially “thousands of other people” in virtual reality. The app launches on Oculus Go and Gear VR on 30 May.

In addition to Live Nation, NextVR’s other content partners include several top-level sports leagues and companies, including the National Basketball Association (NBA), World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL).

Launch partnerships for Oculus Venues include New York’s famed Gotham Comedy Club; School Night, a club night at Bardot Hollywood showcasing up-and-coming artists; and International Champions Cup, the global football competition.

“Oculus Venues is a bold move to provide profound social VR engagement”

“Oculus Venues is a bold move to provide profound social VR engagement, and we are honoured to deliver such an important part of this new product release from Oculus,” says David Cole, NextVR’s co-founder and CEO.

“NextVR has built a passionate fan base around leading VR content experiences. Venues will satisfy our fans who want to enjoy this type of content on a massively social scale.”

Facebook has owned Oculus since 2014, when it acquired the VR hardware platform for a reported US$3bn.

According to VR Scout, the first Oculus Venues show will be a performance by Vance Joy, in partnership with AEG.

A short video released by Road to VR (via Oculus) shows the platform in action at a football match:

Other innovations unveiled at Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, which kicked off yesterday morning, include a dating feature, FaceDate, video chat for Instagram, a ‘clear history’ function and Oculus TV, which allows Oculus users to watch television inside their headsets.

 


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