Oculus is unveiling several new social media features for users of the Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headset, including the ability to quickly find friends and fellow players through the headset’s app and a new Facebook Videos tab to share 360-degree videos and other content with others.
The latest features, which were revealed in a March 9 post on the Oculus Blog, also include the availability of a new online “Oculus Social” room where people can gather virtually to watch Twitch or Vimeo streams together, as well as several new games that players can participate in online with others using their headsets.
Starting on March 10, Samsung Gear VR users can create a profile in the app (pictured) that’s used with the headset and then do simple searches for friends who are on the platform by searching their real names or Oculus usernames, according to the post. That is expected to make it easier for players to find each other and meet up for online virtual gaming and exploration.
Oculus technology is behind the Samsung Gear VR headset, which sells for $100 since going on sale last fall. The Gear VR headset allows users to view video games, movies and more in immersive new ways, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The Samsung Gear VR is a consumer version of virtual reality headsets made by Oculus. The Gear VR works with Samsung’s most recent smartphone models, including the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, S6 and S6 Edge—with their Super AMOLED displays giving users a richer virtual reality experience. It will also work with the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones.
In addition to the friend search feature, Gear VR users are gaining cool new immersive capabilities to play online made-for-VR games with friends or anyone around the world using their headsets.
The first game is “Social Trivia,” which was created by Oculus and lets up to four players compete in a battle of general knowledge, sort of like a Trivial Pursuit game in virtual reality. Players are asked questions from different categories and must give correct answers to amass points. The game is played in a futuristic virtual room with chairs and heads-up displays. The Social Trivia game can be found in the Concepts section of the Oculus Store, according to the post.
Another new game is Herobound: Gladiators, which is a multiplayer adventure game that brings together up to four players to conquer goblins and demons in arena-style battlefields. The game, which is now available in the Oculus Store, also includes integrated voice chat so that players can talk with each other and strategize in real time as they battle in the game.
Online players also will now be able to leave user reviews for all apps on the Oculus Store, which wasn’t previously possible.
Facebook Integration Arriving
Yet another new feature announced by Oculus in its blog post is the ability for Gear VR users to bring together their VR experiences with their personal Facebook accounts. The company added a new Facebook Videos tab to Oculus Video, which will allow users to connect their Facebook account with Oculus Video to personalize their 360-degree video feed based on the pages and people that they follow. The new feature will be available starting sometime during the week of March 13, according to Oculus.
Facebook acquired Oculus for $1.9 billion in March 2014 to expand its social media footprint in a new direction.
Also coming later in March from Oculus are new tools for developers that will help them create even more VR games and apps with broader social media capabilities.
“Virtual reality will continue to drive deeper social connections, and we can’t wait to bring it to more people around the world!” the company stated in the post.
Oculus has been active lately in marketing its VR headsets in a variety of ways. In February, the company announced that its Rift virtual-reality headsets are being bundled with specially built PCs from several manufacturers to give VR fans the right gear to get started in the world of virtual reality.
The bundles, which will include an Oculus-ready PC and a Rift VR headset, were announced in February and are built around special PCs to be produced by Asus, Alienware and Dell. The PC and Rift bundles are available for preorder from Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store starting at $1,499. Each bundle includes an Oculus-certified PC and a Rift and its accessories, including a sensor, a remote, an Xbox One controller, and the EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack and Lucky’s Tale games. The bundles are expected to ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions from retail partners starting in April, according to Oculus.
In January, Oculus began taking preorders for its $599 Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets, which will ship starting in May. The Rift will be equipped with dual active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) displays that are designed to provide users with incredible visual clarity as they explore virtual worlds with the device. The Rift also uses an infrared LED constellation tracking system that provides precise, low-latency 360-degree orientation and position tracking for users for accurate and fluid control and operation when playing games and simulations.