Oculus has today announced the launch of Oculus Rooms and Parties for the Samsung Gear VR headset. A new virtual reality service which is designed to connect people in VR. According to the announcement, while Oculus Rooms and Parties is now available for owners of the Gear VR, it will become available for owners of the Rift in 2017. Although, no firm details on when in 2017 have been provided.
Both the new Rooms and Parties features are designed to unite people in VR and generally speaking are somewhat connected. As Oculus explains, Rooms (shown above) is a feature which offers friends the ability to share experiences together in the same virtual space. In contrast, Parties (shown below) is essentially a way for friends to group voice call in VR, although it is currently limited to only three people. As mentioned, the two features are somewhat connected as once you do start a Party (VR voice call) with friends, you can very quickly and easily migrate the party to a Room. So depending on whether you just want to be able to talk to someone while doing your own VR thing or would prefer the VR experience to be a group activity, seems to be the main difference between the two services. To find friends, Gear VR users will need to link their Facebook and Oculus accounts together and then they will be able to add friends as 'Oculus friends'. From then on you will be able to connect with those friends either through Rooms or Parties and in a similar way to how you might connect with people on other social media platforms.
In the announcement blog form Oculus, the company notes that the social aspect of VR has always been where they see the platform naturally evolving to. Oculus explains that from their perspective, the first wave of VR was all about the actual experience and getting used to being in VR. Now that phase is starting to become somewhat normalized, Oculus notes that Rooms and Parties represent the next natural step, the social phase and the ability to experience those same experiences, but with other people. Likewise, the announcement post also does detail that Rooms and Parties mark only the beginning of 'social VR'.