Facebook’s social VR network “Horizon” is currently on the horizon and as a result, its virtual reality chat app “Spaces” has now been discontinued. Facebook Horizon will launch in 2020.
With the Facebook Spaces now officially discontinued, there is a statement on the Facebook Spaces site informing users that the app is not available anymore as of October 25, 2019. In the statement, Facebook has also expressed appreciation to all users who had joined the Spaces experience and stated that it is looking forward to users joining the Horizon experience when it launches in spring next year.
Conceptually, the Facebook Spaces app had been fundamentally different from the Horizon social VR platform. The latter offered users a rich virtual reality world with many different environments and features. The Spaces platform, on the other hand, worked like a virtual reality phone.
Spaces Had Huge Potential But no Users
Facebook Spaces enabled up to four people to meet up at a round table and talk to one another, test the mini-games and watch the 360-degree along with the 2D content together. It also enabled the participants to co-creatively draw in the air. Additionally, users without virtual reality headsets could join the discussions on Facebook Spaces through the Facebook Messenger.
In theory, the concept and implementation of the Spaces app offered users some interesting features. However, in practice, the app was hardly used and there were months that passed by without any updates. The Spaces app was an experimental concept for both Facebook and virtual reality enthusiasts, enabling them to find answers to various basic questions about interaction in VR. With Spaces, Facebook’s goal was to demonstrate how face-to-face interaction can be detached from the need for physical presence, pretty much the same way that mobile phones eliminated the need for face-to-face conversation. Its Spaces concept had the potential to realize that goal and unlock virtual reality’s potential for social interaction but it simply failed to take off.
Will Facebook Horizon Accomplish More than Spaces?
Facebook’s fundamental challenge when it comes to social VR is the fact that many gamers and tech nerds still prefer to simply jump directly into the games or the nerdy social VR worlds rather than being controlled by a Facebook version of “Rec Room” or “VRChat”. As a result, Facebook’s Horizon is also likely to be faced by the same obstacle. It’s a fundamental obstacle and it will be interesting to see whether the Horizon experience will surmount it.
Regardless of the flop in its Spaces app, Facebook is still seeing a massive potential in virtual reality for its own lineup of social and physical interaction across vast distances whereby the virtual reality headsets will provide users with a stronger sense of connectedness than, say, video telephony.
Facebook Spaces had never made its way to the Oculus Quest headset even though it was available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The Horizon will, on the other hand, be available on both Rift and Quest. Presumably, it will be available as a crossplay from next year with the closed beta slated to begin in early 2020. In spite of the fact that Facebook Horizon is billed as a Spaces’ replacement as well as successor, Facebook’s hasn’t revealed whether it will provide HTC Vive support for the platform. For the time being, it is unlikely that there will be support for the Horizon platform outside the Oculus ecosystem.