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AR/VR Weekly: RIP, Altspace

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Social virtual reality — online spaces where you can interact with others using VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear — is at the forefront of innovation in this growing but still young sector. But one of the most important companies working in this space is shutting down even as we’re seeing expansion in other places.

Last week, Altspace announced that it’s winding down. GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi dove into what this means. But what I find so interesting is that, just as one important player shuts down, we had a number of positive stories about VR’s — and AR’s — growth just a few days later!

Take Europe: The VR scene there is approaching 500 companies. Another augmented reality toy has landed in Walmart, the biggest retailer around. HP has made a VR backpack for designers, something that’s more geared toward enterprise than gaming. Heck, Linden Labs even launched an open beta for its take on social VR.

But it’s sad that Altspace is leaving the scene. I feel for its employees, whom I hope stick with social VR and have no trouble finding work with other firms exploring the space, like Linden Labs or Facebook. One comment from Dean’s piece about Altspace is sticking with me, though. VCs overvalued VR last year, that’s clear. And now good people and good ideas are paying for that mistake.

“AltspaceVR was truly a pioneer in the social VR space. It should not have been discounted, and I honestly think this is a tragedy for the industry,” SuperData’s Stephanie Llamas said.

For AR/VR coverage, send news tips to Dean Takahashi and Jeff Grubb (for those that cross over into PC gaming). Please send guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our AR/VR Channel.

—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. Can Jeff Grubb survive the Kobayashi Maru?

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