- The world of VR is undergoing a metamorphosis as companies move to understand what people want the metaverse to be.
- Large social VR apps are places where there’s a lot going on, but it can still be difficult to find people to truly connect with.
- The true potential of the metaverse lies in social VR apps with a purpose, like Immerse.
Virtual reality can bring people together
Immersive VR is, in many ways, the perfect way to get together with people you can’t get together with.
Thousands of miles from your family? Longing to make friends with people from faraway cultures? VR headsets like the Quest 2 let you meet up (in avatar form) in places realistic or fantastical.
The experience is so immersive that headset VR users often feel they are really in the same space as the people they meet up with in virtual reality.
Unsurprisingly, the world of immersive reality (aka the metaverse) boomed during the pandemic, when the longing to be with other humans became challenging to satisfy in more conventional ways.
By spring of 2020, social VR apps were sprouting up quickly as tech giants like Microsoft and Meta raced to establish themselves in the metaverse.
When a social VR app is all things to all people
At first glance, social VR apps appear to fulfill the promise of a metaverse where people from around the world can meet, play, attend events, or just hang out.
As in any place where large numbers of people gather, hardworking individuals create spaces, offer classes, and host events on these platforms, and communities have sprung up around their work.
Just like in a city, though, these individually created corners of a social VR platform can also be hard to find, vary in quality, get overrun by sketchy characters, or simply become abandoned.
Recently, the waning of the pandemic has left many with less need to socialize virtually, at the same moment that some large software companies are questioning whether these platforms are even worth their while from a financial standpoint.
Does this spell trouble for the metaverse?
Social VR with a purpose
The announcement that AltSpaceVR is permanently shutting down in March 2023 has been taken by some as a sign that enthusiasm for the metaverse itself is waning.
In fact, socializing in the metaverse may be undergoing a metamorphosis, with an increase in VR apps like Gym Class, Wooorld, and Immerse that blend social elements and specific experiences like basketball practice, exploration, or Spanish lessons.
The rise of these more topic-focused social apps makes it easier for like-minded people to find one another and share their common interests.
When Immerse launched on the Oculus Store in June 2022, it was the very first live instructor-led education VR app. Since then we've created a thriving language-learning community on both the Immerse VR platform and our Discord channel.
At Immerse, Members practice Spanish and French together, celebrate one another’s progress, post Spanish and French memes, and share their mutual love of language learning.
As of February 2023, our public spaces are also moderated by a live host who keeps an eye on things and is always up for a friendly chat.
The future of social networking in the metaverse
In traditional social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, users scroll quickly through posts from friends and groups they’ve joined, interspersed with ads and suggested content.
These large, multifaceted social media networks are unlikely to be replaced any time soon by the metaverse, which offers a different type of social connection.
For those who enjoy roaming and rambling through the metaverse in search of novelty, the generic VR social apps offer the opportunity to meet total strangers from behind the cloak of anonymity.
For those seeking real connection, however, topic-focused social VR apps provide a special opportunity to meet and hang out with people who share a passion for art or language or travel or sports, and to engage in activities together in real time in a way that feels very natural.
Immerse is blazing a new trail, paving the way for social VR apps with a purpose to help the metaverse reach its true potential.