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Facebook Announces Oculus Venues. Events are the Future of Virtual Reality #IMEX17

Skift Take

As we anticipated in our trends report last year, the future of Virtual Reality is events. Facebook confirmed that today with the launch of Oculus Venues, a new app to enjoy concerts, movies and events via VR.

While presenting trends around the world over the last year as part of the Event Innovation Lab, I mentioned repeatedly how VR will be the fourth wave of event technology.

I reinforced that in our recent Event Tech Bible. The amount of interest and investment from players like Facebook was unprecedented. I saw some event professionals looking at me in the same fashion you smile at a baby trying to walk.

The announcement Facebook today is confirming the strongest trend we anticipated last year. The VR revolution is happening. Whether we like it or not. Facebook is pouring in the event industry an unprecedented amount of development leverage. We have never witnessed such interest from large tech conglomerates in to events.

The Niche that Zuckerberg Loves

Events are dear to Mark Zuckerberg. Where other social networks such as Google Plus, LinkedIn and also an event-driven platform such as Twitter failed miserably, upsetting and alienating users and event planners, Facebook is blossoming.

We have been advocating the strong link between events and social media since 2007. We now have social networks, such as Snapchat, built around events. We have phenomena like FOMO, driving all social media efforts for large events.

Zuckerberg is taking advantage of the total lack of competition, in a space where Facebook Events drives most of the long tail market and where nobody is willing to compete.

Will We Use Oculus To Attend Events?

What if in 2009, I told you that you would have been an active user of Facebook? What if I’d told you that you would enjoy liking friends’ pictures on Instagram? Never in a million years.

Get out of that mindset now, because event attendance through VR is the biggest change to events we will witness in the next few years. Finally, a way to capitalize on those that cannot attend. A more immersive way to involve them in events. Whether it is a conference or a music festival.

We have shown you some great examples of how VR is transversal and gives event professionals the ability to drop flat livestream in favor of realistic attendance opportunities.

Will VR Replace Face to Face?

Never. If you know anything about events you would understand the three pillars of successful events:

  • Events are co-created experiences. How we interact with others is correlated with our satisfaction. As much as VR can get better, physical interactions will always drive better connections.
  • Not attending in person will always be associated with FOMO. If you experience it online, FOMO will be through the roof. You will need to attend next year.
  • Serendipity is one of the strongest factors in driving satisfaction

These are just some of the intrinsic reasons why VR will never replace face to face but will make it even more relevant and accessible to attendees around the world.

Oculus Venues

Oculus Venues is an app for Oculus Rift and Oculus Go, Facebook-owned hardware to experience VR. This is how it works (watch from 15 minutes).

What we know:

  • Oculus Venues will be released in 2018
  • It will compete with existing VR platforms such as AltspaceVR
  • It will be available on Oculus headsets
  • It will have some level of integration with Ticketmaster
  • It will have content from LiveNation

In Conclusion

If you are thinking about 2018, you may want to start considering how your event can be attended remotely in VR. This is especially true for large events or those with very unique content.

VR will never replace face to face but it will give a chance to extend the event experience to new audiences.

Further related reading about virtual reality:
5 Trends for Virtual Reality in Events
What Attendees Need to Experience Events in Virtual Reality
How 360 Degree Live Video is Paving the Way for VR at Events