Oculus VR’s new platform for live entertainment experiences is launching today for the new, standalone Oculus Go headset and Samsung’s Gear VR. The platform, called Oculus Venues, was first announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference at the beginning of May. It’s centered on delivering live events like sporting matches, concerts, and comedy shows in the style of a streaming TV service — but in VR. That means viewers effectively get front-row seats to live shows from the comfort of their home, so long as they’re content with wearing a VR headset for an extended period of time.
The first Venues event will be a live Vance Joy concert at Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater, followed by a Gotham Comedy Live show streamed from New York City in partnership with live events platform NextVR. Oculus has also released an entire summer lineup through August 27th that includes a pretty diverse slate of sports matches, live shows, and movies.
Venues isn’t just about giving Oculus owners a way to watch a live event, but about trying to recreate the feeling of experiencing that event with other people. To that end, Venues populates the area immediately around you with other virtual avatars, to give you the sense of a collective viewing experience only live events can provide.
This is all part of Oculus’ broader entertainment push to make VR both a social experience and a medium that goes beyond just gaming. To do that, Oculus needs to give everyday consumers a reason to own a VR headset and use it regularly. Live events is a smart way to achieve both, especially given that the Oculus Go headset is the company’s first standalone device and costs just $199. That makes it potentially more palatable to more mainstream consumers who have no interest in gaming but who otherwise may be looking to try out VR for entertainment purposes.