Another VR service is sadly going away. Altspace, a longstanding social world that was popular with the 30+ crowd, published its intentions today to sunset in March 2023.
This announcement comes after being a social VR option for HMD enthusiasts since 2013. In the time it's struggled against similar apps on the market, Altspace managed to cater to everything from Google Daydream to the Meta Quest series. Its users are now most likely to split off between Horizon Worlds and VRChat. Altspace's overall calm vibe can't quite be replicated anywhere else, but Horizon Worlds will likely be the service that comes the closest to doing so.
Altspace was earnest and had heart, yet had problems with giving its audience everything it needed to be a fully functioning world. When I first purchased my Meta Quest headset and explored the platform, I felt Altspace's constraints almost immediately. The avatars felt too stiff, the worlds more primed for PC/desktop rather than an HMD. There were a few simple games that were variations of basketball and darts to amuse users. At one point there was tabletop gaming, but the most popular tools for game hosting disappeared; had it not, Altspace could have been a more solid contender for the digital tabletop crowd.
Instead, Microsoft tried to push event hosting. Exploring around became cumbersome; new worlds didn't crop up so easily the last I tried diving around, which made me log off a few times in frustration. It became obvious at that point where the platform would end up: in the bin, overtaken by a newer service aimed at adults that seemed to incorporate entertainment a little better. Altspace was a cozy option for talkers and thinkers, but just couldn't put enough together to hold them sustainably.
The core of Altspace is an indelible crowd that will continue to influence the rest of the VR sphere. A few weeks ago, I ended up at a private party being held by a group of Altspace refugees setting down roots in VRChat. They brought their art and sense of architecture with them; as I gazed up at the galleries and structural monuments of ArtsyMarie, I felt a new wave of design-focused energy arriving.
I'm saddened these users have lost their homes, yet excited for what they'll accomplish wherever they go.
As users pack up their things to say their last goodbyes on March 10th, they're exchanging information on websites such as the Altspace subreddit. If you're a Altspace lover still trying to find your new home, head over to post. You might find a group to travel with to your next destination.