Virtual reality is getting social, according to an Oculus announcement. While this new functionality is not Snow Crash‘s Metaverse, it does offer a way to find friends who also happen to own the Samsung Gear VR, and then play a few simple games with them.
“Starting tomorrow, people with a Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, can create a profile and then easily search for others on the platform by real name or Oculus username,” says an Oculus blog post. Screenshots show a few games, as well as a glimpse of some virtual rooms users can hang out in together.
Samsung’s $100 VR collaboration with Oculus requires a compatible Samsung phone to work, but for anyone who already owns a Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, or Note 5 it’s an affordable entry point to VR. The device was well reviewed, but there aren’t many apps ready at launch.
Today’s announcement reveals two games with a social bent. There’s Social Trivia, where you sit around in a virtual room with your friends and answer trivia questions. Not exactly immersive stuff, but it could be an interesting proof of concept. And then there’s Herobound: Gladiators, which appears to be a strategy game where players can collaborate using real-time voice chat.
Fans of 360-degree videos will be interested in the new Facebook integration, which provides a variety of immersive videos streaming from Facebook. Sign into your account and you can see videos shared by friends, or you can just browse the overall connection. An upcoming update will allow you to Like videos from within the Gear headset.
Anyone worried that Facebook’s purchase of Oculus would result in product integration will no doubt see this as a sign of things to come, and the prominently placed Facebook reaction icons in one screenshot aren’t going to help with that. Still, an ever-growing collection of 360 videos can’t be all bad. Enjoy the new content, Gear VR owners, and let us know how you like it all in the comments below.