VR headsets saw a significant rise in popularity last year, and today, Facebook has added some key functionality options that could significantly boost the usage numbers of its Oculus device - and expand adoption of VR more broadly.
Though it may not seem like a huge innovation - today, Facebook has announced support for multiple accounts within a single Oculus device, and app sharing, enabling different users of a device to purchase different apps in the Oculus environment.
As explained by Facebook:
"VR is a social experience, and that doesn’t just mean online multiplayer. We know Quest has become a shared device for many of you. We want to make it easier to share your Quest with the people you care about, whether with a partner, a roommate, family, or friends."
Up till now, Oculus headsets have only allowed for a single user account, attached to Facebook, which has limited usage to some degree within households. But now, admin accounts will be able to add up to three additional accounts and enable App Sharing on a single device.
"With Multi-User and App Sharing, you’ll be able to log multiple accounts into a single headset, and share Oculus Store apps you’ve purchased with those additional accounts. Game progress and achievements will be unique to each account, so no more “Hey, are you done playing that game so I can start it over?” situations. You’ll also be able to maintain your own friend lists, browser history, privacy settings, and more - and can lock your account with an unlock pattern before handing your headset to friends or family."
Again, while this may seem like a relatively minor addition, it could essentially double the Oculus user count straight away.
It could also help to increase sales. Many people would already be testing out other people's Oculus devices, but having their own profile, with their own information and data, could make the experience even more sticky, and prompt further purchases of Oculus devices.
Which, as noted, saw a significant jump in 2020, as people sought alternative forms of entertainment.
Indeed, in Facebook's most recent performance update, the company's 'Other Revenue' figure (i.e. revenue not generated from ads) was more than double the same period in 2019.
Facebook CFO David Wehner specifically noted that this increase was largely due to strong sales of its Oculus Quest 2 VR device over the holidays.
That's gradually opening up a range of new opportunities and considerations for Facebook, which is already planning for the next shift for social interaction within virtual spaces.
Earlier this month, Oculus VP of Content Mike Verdu has shared a new update on the growth of the platform - and in particular, the growth of content, which is really the key element at this stage.
Facebook also announced the integration of Messenger into the Oculus experience, which will enable users to chat via Messenger within the VR environment.
These are all significant advances, pointing to the next stage of VR, and increased adoption, through the addition of multi-account support, is another small step in this growth.
Facebook will initially roll out multi-user and app sharing out to Quest 2 users as it continues to refine the experience. Eventually, the options will be available to all Quest users.