With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the globe, this year’s Oculus Connect 7 -the most important XR conference in the calendar year- will take place online to avoid the risk of infection, Facebook announced last week via an update on Oculus Blog.
The Oculus Connect Conference brings together developers, marketers, content creators and other players in the VR industry in a celebration of the industry’s growth and momentum. Facebook has stated that the decision to shift the Oculus Connect 7, the seventh Oculus Connect Conference, to the digital format was triggered by the “evolving public health risks related to COVID-19”.
In the blog post, Facebook describes this is a “tough decision” but one that has been motivated by the need to prioritize the health and safety of all stakeholders involved including developers, employees, partners and everyone else that was involved in OC7.
The OC7 provides a great platform and opportunity for Facebook to connect with the global developer community and the tech company has stated that the digital format of the Oculus Connect will be no exception. Additional details about the event will be shared in the coming months.
No doubt the economy of the host city of San Jose will suffer from the raft of event cancellations but Facebook is cushioning that impact by donating $500,000 to the city. The donation will prioritize “organizations serving local San Jose residents”.
Apart from the event cancellations, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has also announced additional measures to protect its staff from the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook staff will continue working from home until about the end of May. Facebook has also cancelled all the major events with 50 or more people until June 2021.
Some of these events will be held in a virtual format. Facebook will reveal additional details soon. The Oculus Connect 7 Conference will also be made in a VR format similar to what HTC demonstrated during its Vive developer conference held in March this year.
Time for the Big Time VR Conference?
The raging coronavirus has given Facebook and other leading VR players the perfect opportunity to position Virtual Reality as a social technology. However, none is yet to grasp at the opportunity in a big way.
The cancellation of Oculus Connect 7 comes on the heels of Facebook’s cancellation of its F8 Developer Conference that was scheduled to take place in early May. The F8 will, instead, be replaced with traditional media streaming such as live streams and videos.
Facebook also cancelled its GDC Conference early this year due to the pandemic. The conference was instead replaced with an online event which consisted of blog posts and video workshops.
Facebook could still opt for Virtual Reality and stream parts of the Oculus Connect 7 and F8 on its VR platform Facebook Horizon, the Facebook metaverse that is set to launch in Spring. The alpha test of the social VR platform has been running since March this year.
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The Oculus Connect Conference brings together developers, marketers,…Sam OchanjiSam
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