Rumors of AltspaceVR closing have been a part of the culture since 2017 when AltspaceVR announced it had run out of funding and closing, then Microsoft moved in at last moment to purchase it. With Microsoft’s focus on Microsoft Mesh for enterprise customers, evolved from AltspaceVR, and integration with Microsoft Teams with mixed reality and avatar experiences, we held out for one of two scenarios: AltspaceVR would evolve to embrace the features and functionality of Mesh, or Microsoft would put their focus on Mesh and close AltspaceVR.
From the announcement today, combined with the announcement by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella of the layoffs of about 10,000 employees, it is no surprise that Microsoft has chosen to close AltspaceVR.
We do know is that this closure did not come without a fight. Educators in VR’s team members heard rumors over the past two years of AltspaceVR staff defending the social VR platform’s existence and offering suggestions to Microsoft on how to monetize and make the platform self-sustaining. We’ve added our voices to the defense. While we still believe this is possible, underlying issues with privacy and security compliance would likely be difficult and costly to update.
We are deeply saddened and frustrated with the news, and we share your grief.
Educators in VR was founded in AltspaceVR to connect educators with each other to learn and overcome the challenges of VR, AR, and XR in education. We saw the potential, but we needed to talk to each other, learn from each other, and whine about our expectations, the limits, and the frustrations of being pioneers. Five years later, Educators in VR has grown to over 4,000 members, 25+ Teams (special interest groups), and developed some of the most innovative workshops and training experiences in the metaverse in support of immersive education.
We’ve created a family.
It feels like our house is burning down and we are rushing into the flames to save it and our precious memories and virtual worlds.
Don’t worry. We have a second home, so to speak. Many homes.
What We Know
Here is what we know for sure.
Dates: AltspaceVR has announced that as of March 10, 2023, the platform will be officially closed.
“How has AltspaceVR and social VR changed your life?” We will be continuing our series for the 8th Anniversary of AltspaceVR interviewing AltspaceVR members and asking them how social VR and the platform has changed their lives. We are also working with some other groups documenting the closing of AltspaceVR and inviting our members to participate as well. In addition, Educators in VR is working with the Microsoft AltspaceVR Sunset Team and the Microsoft Museum to share photographs, videos, and more stories to preserve the legacy of this pioneering social VR platform.
Virtual Worlds: AltspaceVR has updated their website to include features to download your Unity-created virtual worlds.
- You may only download templates, kits, skyboxes, etc. that you’ve created and uploaded to AltspaceVR. The ability to download your Unity files allows those who may have lost access to their original Unity files to have copies.
- Worlds created from AltspaceVR and other people’s shared items may be photographed and filmed for legacy, but not copied or downloaded. Exports of the world are not allowed due to copyright licensing terms. If you are paying a subscription for access to shared items, please check with the world builder to see if their kits are supported on other platforms for you to transfer and recreate your worlds there.
- While AltspaceVR supports URP and a more recent version of Unity than most other VR platforms, downgrading is fairly easy. Hopefully other platforms will upgrade their Unity versions. There are many videos and tutorials for uploading your Unity templates and assets to various platforms, and Educators in VR and TryUniverse have workshops ready to go to help you migrate your worlds to other platforms.
Microsoft Mesh: Rumors that AltspaceVR would merge with Introducing Microsoft Mesh | Here can be anywhere.Microsoft Mesh have been around since the first announcement of the mixed reality platform. Still in early development, Microsoft Mesh is being for enterprise customers with thousands of employees. Educators in VR has applied to be included. , We’ve learned that Mesh will be structured much like VirBela in that companies will be hosting “islands” of worlds and events and only those on the “guest list” have access to that company area, and no public commons area or access.
Educators in VR Events: Educators in VR has long been platform agnostic, hosting our first Educators in VR 2020 International Summit on 5 social VR platforms, and the 2021 EDVR UniVirtual Experience conference was on 20 platforms. Still, the majority of our events and community have been in AltspaceVR and ENGAGE XR.
Our plan for the 2022-2023 year was to expand our base to other platforms. We’ve been hosting events in Frame VR, Spatial, and other platforms, and that plan continues. With the help of our team of platform experts, we are experimenting with events and world building development and imports across all the major platforms, bringing with us 5 years of expertise and experience producing over 800 VR paid and free educational events, workshops, and conference events annually. You may keep up with all those events on our website and Educators in VR Google Calendar.
Which Platform? We are also asked by many to recommend a specific platform to migrate to after AltspaceVR closes. We’ll have more on this soon, and hosting events exploring these platforms. The key social VR platforms are ENGAGE XR, Spatial VR, VRChat, Mozilla Hubs, Meta Horizon Worlds, and Rec Room. There are pros and cons to all of these. The removal of AltspaceVR from the fabric of social VR is causing ripples and tetonic shifts. We are watching to see how the shift changes the metaverse.
We are Family!
The Educators in VR community is solid and amazing. We’ve built something very special over the past five years. We represent over 4,000 educators, students, researchers, school administrators, businesses, and passionate users committed to exploring XR immersive education and the metaverse. We are flexible and will thrive no matter where we are.
Our weekly Tuesday Workshop will switch to ENGAGE XR and be at the same time as usual by the first Tuesday in March.
The weekly Learn events on Wednesday in ENGAGE XR will continue as usual. If you’ve missed the most recent events, you are missing a great opportunity to see how XR technology is changing education.
Educators in VR has been working developing an extensive range of informative and unique training and workshop experiences for paid and free. They include:
- ENGAGE XR Intro (English and Spanish)
- 2D/VR Basic Training (English and Spanish)
- Educators in VR Introduction (formerly EDVR 101) (English and Spanish)
- VR Event Introduction
- VR Event Production Workshop
- Teaching the Teachers Bootcamp
Our Educators in VR Teams have developed a series of workshops, free and paid, and these will continue and expand onto ENGAGE XR and other platforms.
- Cyberbullying in the Metaverse with EDVR Metaverse Ethics Team
- How to Research in VR with EDVR VR Researchers Team
- How to Choose a VR Headset with the EDVR Virtual Hardware Team
- VR Headset Deployment and Management with the EDVR Virtual Hardware Team
- Performance and Body Movement for Theatre with the EDVR Theatre Team
- Exploring Educational VR Apps with the EDVR Virtual Schooling Team
More are in development. If you are interested in presenting and offering VR workshops and classes or wish to share ideas and your wish list, please contact us.
We will have more updates as they are available.
Again, our hearts go out to everyone who has given so much of their creativity, heart, and soul to AltspaceVR. We are all grieving with you. We are here for you and will be hosting events over the next few weeks to discuss this more.
We look forward to having you join us on ENGAGE XR. Free LITE accounts are available and access to our free public events allow for those accounts to attend freely.