Social virtual reality platform AltspaceVR – which announced it was closing down in July – has been acquired by Microsoft.
“What a ride. We cried, we laughed, we overdosed on caffeine… but now we’re dancing in our headsets!” the Silicon Valley-based start-up said in a statement.
The company initially closed down due to a funding deal that fell through and ”the general slowness of VR market growth” making investors reluctant to commit further funds. Weeks later the platform announced it would “live on”.
On Monday, at a Windows Mixed Reality event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced it had acquired AltspaceVR. The value and terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“With the AltspaceVR team onboard we look forward to building the world’s preeminent mixed reality community,” Microsoft technical fellow, Alex Kipman said.
AltspaceVR said Microsoft was keen to foster the existing community and assured users it would remain cross-platform, and continue to work on PC and Mac in 2D mode, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Daydream by Google, and Samsung Gear VR.
The company said there are no plans to bring AltspaceVR to Microsoft's HoloLens at this time.
“Our new teammates at Microsoft are just as nerdtastic about our community as we are. AltspaceVR will stay AltspaceVR. Now we get to see how far we can take the promise of our social VR universe,” the company wrote in a blog post.
The partnership would be like “an adrenaline shot” for AltspaceVR’s 40 employees, the blog post said.
Before it closed the platform had around 35,000 monthly users – a significant portion of the total market.
Occasional events were held in the virtual space, a gig by artist Reggie Watts set the (still standing) record for most people in VR at one time.
There are a number of rival social VR platforms, including VRChat and High Fidelity. Facebook introduced a ‘lite’ version of social VR called Spaces in April, for users with an Oculus Rift headset (Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014).
“Microsoft is excited to incorporate communications technology into our mixed reality ecosystem,” AltspaceVR said in an announcement of the acquisition.
“AltspaceVR takes personal connections, combines them with real-time experiences, and leverages immersive presence to share experiences. Situations of people, places, and things have deeper meaning and in turn, are more memorable. We’re excited to see how far this technology can go,” the company added.
Thank you @Microsoft for saving my virtual home, @AltspaceVR , where I have made so many wonderful memories and met friends that I can call my family. No other social app compares and I’ve tried them all. ❤️— Courtney (@aeowala) October 4, 2017