Bottom line: AltspaceVR parent company Microsoft has started rolling out changes to the platform that will effectively destroy the community users have created. The changes are partially under the guise of creating a safer environment, but Microsoft's true goal is to refocus the platform around live events.
Microsoft said that as platforms like AltspaceVR evolve, it's important to look at existing experiences and evaluate whether they are properly serving the needs of customers today and in the future. Shielding users from inappropriate behavior and harassment is part of the process, and in an effort to do that while moving forward with its true plans for the platform, the following changes are being rolled out from today:
- AltspaceVR hosted social hubs including the Campfire, News and Entertainment Commons will be removed
- Existing Safety Bubble will now be turned on by default
- New attendees joining Events will be automatically muted
The second and third changes aren't all that egregious, but the first is akin to fully neutering the service.
AltspaceVR launched in mid-2015 as a virtual reality-based social platform where users could gather, chat and collaborate. A little over two years later, its founders ran out of money and announced AltspaceVR would be shutting down. At the 11th hour, someone stepped in to keep the lights on. A few months later, Microsoft revealed it had purchased AltspaceVR.
In addition to the aforementioned changes, Microsoft in the coming weeks will enhance content ratings for events in AltspaceVR and increase moderation. They will also require all users to log in to AltspaceVR with a Microsoft Account.
The real story here isn't the fact that Microsoft is trying to make AltspaceVR a safer environment for users. Instead, they're simply driving existing users away in order to rebrand the platform as an event-based space for artists, brands and businesses.