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Preview: Unplugged – Rocking VR Air Guitar

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Everyone has strummed out a little air guitar at some point in their lives – come on admit it – whether that’s in the shower or when you hear an awesome solo over the airwaves. But mimicking your wild arm flailing into a cohesive, hand tracked virtual reality (VR) videogame is another endeavour entirely. It’s a challenge indie team Anotherway decided to tackle, and with the help of Vertigo Games behind them, has begun to showcase what rock dreams are made of in Unplugged.

Unplugged

Unlike every other rhythm action guitar title where you had some sort of plastic controller with fret buttons and a whammy bar to hold, giving that pseudo sense of being an ace axe player, Unplugged’s use of hand tracking is bold. That’s because up until now hand tracking on Oculus Quest has revolved around slower, more methodical genres like puzzle videogames; Cubism’s recent implementation is testimony to that.

Without having a guitar to “feel” where your hands are on the neck going into Unplugged for the first time is like stepping into the unknown, as the expectation is that this level of complexity can’t work (or work well). And first impressions definitely are mixed when it comes to playing a hand tracked guitar in VR.  

The demo of Unplugged VRFocus got to play offered the main gist of the experience, an introductory tutorial as well as four songs to try and master, each with three difficulty levels. It must be said that Unplugged looks extremely polished, from the tattoos on your virtual fingers to the inclusion of Satchel from Steel Panther as your rock guide, it is very well presented. Even the buttons to select the various menu options have a nice push to them, a small but important touch.

Unplugged

When it comes to actually playing the virtual guitar the neck is split into five sections with each of your fingers colour coded so you can play specific notes. That means you have to pay attention to where the notes are going to hit the neck as well as the appropriate finger combination. You also have to strum of course. However, from what’s been shown so far there are no epic individual finger solos like you used to get on Guitar Hero, most tend to be all four fingers, three and the occasional two-finger notes. And that’s certainly enough.

Even on easy Unplugged isn’t particularly straightforward. Without that physicality, playing tracks like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son or The Offspring’s The Kids Aren’t Alright requires focusing all of your attention on the guitar neck so you know exactly where to place your hand whilst ensuring optimal tracking of your fingers. The downside to this was forgetting where that important strumming hand needed to be. Quite often notes were being missed not because of incorrect finger placement but that pick hand moving out of place during an awesome rock solo.

You can play Unplugged both seated and standing with the latter tending to be the easier option. There’s also the option to adjust where the guitar is placed in relation to you, moving it up/down, in/out depending on preference. While this does really help, strumming still seemed to be the main issue as it’s difficult keeping your hand in very near the same point mid-air for an entire song. Or maybe much, much more practice is required.

Unplugged

Thankfully, Unplugged doesn’t just have notes you need to strum. The Pull-Off notes are by far the easiest to play as you can move your hand up and down the neck for some true air guitar rocking! The same goes for the Virtuoso notes where you’re given a blank flaming box to wiggle those digits however you see fit. These are the moments where Unplugged comes alive, coordination and precision go out the window, allowing you to enjoy the song at its fullest.

At the end of each track, you can then pump up the crowd for more points and hopefully a top leaderboard position.

Unplugged is going to be the greatest test of Oculus Quest’s hand tracking and likely very divisive as to whether it can really offer a viable alternative to those physical, guitar rhythm action games of old. There’s no doubt that it works with some flashes of brilliance but the learning curve is huge, especially trying to complete those higher levels. With a launch planned for fall 2021, there isn’t long to wait to see if Unplugged is the hardest air guitar you’ve ever played.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/09/preview-unplugged-rocking-vr-air-guitar/

AR/VR

The 20 Best Rated & Most Popular Quest Games & Apps – October 2021

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While Oculus doesn’t offer much publicly in the way of understanding how well individual apps are performing across its VR storefronts, it’s possible to glean some insight by looking at apps relative to each other. Here’s a snapshot of the top 20 Oculus Quest games and apps as of October 2021.

Some quick qualifications before we get to the data:

  • Paid and free apps are separated
  • Only apps with more than 100 reviews are represented
  • App Lab apps are not represented
  • Rounded ratings may appear to show ‘ties’ in ratings for some applications, but the ranked order remains correct

Best Rated Paid Oculus Quest Apps

The rating of each application is an aggregate of user reviews and a useful way to understand the general reception of each title by customers.

Rank Name Rating (# of ratings) Rank Change Price
#1 Puzzling Places 4.93 (515) $15
#2 The Room VR: A Dark Matter 4.89 (8,024) $30
#3 I Expect You To Die 2 4.88 (1,070) $25
#4 Walkabout Mini Golf 4.86 (3,760) $15
#5 Swarm 4.82 (1,237) $25
#6 Moss 4.82 (4,987) $30
#7 YUKI 4.81 (144) $20
#8 Cubism 4.81 (477) ↑ 1 $10
#9 I Expect You To Die 4.81 (3,844) ↓ 1 $25
#10 The Thrill of the Fight 4.79 (6,241) $10
#11 Pistol Whip 4.77 (7,424) ↑ 1 $30
#12 GORN 4.77 (5,115) ↓ 1 $20
#13 Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 4.77 (6,260) $30
#14 ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos 4.76 (908) $40
#15 In Death: Unchained 4.74 (3,044) $30
#16 Trover Saves the Universe 4.74 (1,757) $30
#17 Yupitergrad 4.73 (406) $15
#18 Racket: Nx 4.72 (1,543) $20
#19 SUPERHOT VR 4.72 (13,708) $25
#20 Job Simulator 4.72 (8,188) $20

Rank change & stats compared to September 2021

Dropouts:
None

  • Among the 20 best rated Quest apps
    • Average rating (mean): 4.8 out of 5 (±0)
    • Average price (mean): $23 (±$0)
    • Most common price (mode): $30 (±$0)
  • Among all paid Quest apps
    • Average rating (mean): 4.3 out of 5 (±0)
    • Average price (mean): $19 (±0)
    • Most common price (mode): $20 (±$0)

Continue on Page 2: Most Popular Paid Oculus Quest Apps »

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.

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Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/best-oculus-quest-games-app-rated-october-2021/

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AR/VR

Sony Reveals Top 5 Most Played PSVR Games Ever

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It’s been five years since Sony released PlayStation VR on PS4 consoles, and to commemorate the anniversary its creators have released the top five most-played PSVR games to date.

Unlike its monthly top-download list, Sony has stacked up all of its 500+ games on the store and ranked them according to playtime hours, showing us just where most people have been spending their time on the now five year-old headset.

Here’s the global list, although you’ll also find regional breakdowns below:

Most-Played PSVR Games (Global)

  • Rec Room (2017)
  • Beat Saber (2018)
  • PlayStation VR Worlds (2016)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (2017)
  • Resident Evil 7 biohazard (2017)

Unsurprisingly at the top of the global list is Rec Room, which launched on PSVR back in late 2017. The social VR platform is free, and includes a host of mini-games which rival some of the bespoke paid content on the store.

The cross-platform game is also constantly evolving thanks to the inclusion of user-generated content, new first-party content like the Mario Kart-style Rec Rally mini-game all of which shares common usership across desktop, PCVR, console (Xbox and PS), and mobile devices running Android and iOS.

Rec Room seems to have done well across Europe and North America, although it didn’t make the list in Japan. Here’s the regional breakdowns.

  • Europe: Rec Room, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, Resident Evil 7 biohazard
  • North America: Rec Room, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Job Simulator, Firewall: Zero Hour
  • Japan: Resident Evil 7 biohazard, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, Gran Turismo Sport

There’s still no word on when the next PlayStation VR headset is coming; Sony has said previously the headset won’t launch until ‘sometime after 2021’. Maybe there’s a barn-burner sale coming this Holiday Season to help wipe out stock before the company makes a commitment to show off the new hardware?

Although just a rumor at this point, the next-gen hardware is reportedly packing some pretty impressive specs like eye-tracking, inside-out positional tracking, and resolutions reported to be 2,000 × 2,040 pixels per-eye. Bear in mind that none of that’s substantiated, so we’ll just have to wait and see when Sony decides the time is right.

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Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/psvr-most-played-games-2021/

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AR/VR

Can Snap Mainstream AR Marketing?

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AR Insider

Immersive ad formats like AR continue to hold promise, though they’re mostly still in early adopter phases among brand marketers. We’re talking about ad formats that utilize the camera (Gen-Z friendly) to offer 3D interactivity, such as virtually trying on shoes or shades of lipstick.

This includes social lenses (the most popular format to date) and visual search. For the latter, Google is pioneering a “search what you see” use case to point your phone at objects to contextualize or shop for them. And as we examined earlier this week, Pinterest isn’t far behind.

But the king of consumer AR is Snap. Not only has it popularized AR lenses by having them piggyback on media/selfie sharing, but it’s monetized that traction. In fact, Snap explicitly attributes AR lenses as its growth engine during the past few years of ad revenue acceleration.

It turns out that the same qualities that make lenses viral also create favorable performance in their sponsored instances. Products shown in greater visual dimension have higher conversion rates and lower eCommerce returns on average than non-immersive benchmarks.

To double down on all of these principles, Snap recently launched the AR Lab with ad agency giant WPP. The program will set advertisers on the right foot with onboarding tools, educational materials and development resources. This will ease those first adoptive steps for brands.

Breaking it down further, the AR Lab offers custom strategy guides with best practices for successful AR lens campaigns (think: how to convert lens interactions to eCommerce purchases). It also offers optimization scorecards to track campaign effectiveness in real-time.

Lastly, the AR Lab will establish an AR certification program that aims to enroll 1,000 WPP employees this year. This could accelerate brand adoption as their agency representatives will be equipped to translate their campaign goals to the benefits and best practices of AR lenses.

Stepping back, the idea is generally to continue growing lenses past the early-adopter brands noted earlier. The beauty of lenses for Snap isn’t just growth so far….but the market headroom still to come. Most advertisers haven’t yet experienced the benefits of these immersive formats.

Why is that? Some advertisers aren’t convinced, some need more education, and others are simply stuck in their ways….as it often goes with the habit-bound Madison Avenue. So the AR Lab is Snap’s way of reaching these uninitiated and unconverted brands. And WPP is its bridge.

So if Snapchat is building a bridge to a larger market of lens advertisers, who are those companies specifically? Current AR marketers span verticals but skew towards fashion and entertainment. They include hip and tech-forward brands like Gucci, Nike and Sony Pictures.

So if there’s growth to be had in AR advertising it could come from going deeper in these verticals as well as reaching new verticals. The latter could include AR-conducive product categories like food and travel. And it could involve moving down market to small businesses.

AR’s ability to create favorable brand engagement is also evident in hard goods, given the ability to visualize products remotely before buying. This makes AR primed for retail and eCommerce, especially in the Covid era when additional product dimension is valued.

But there’s a value chain that still needs to be developed in order for adoption friction to recede among brands. For example, making one’s products render properly in AR requires 3D digital assets — either existing CAD designs or 3D scans that need to be made.

These processes continue to get democratized by companies like CG Trader and VNTANA, which will chip away at the adoption inertia seen in the brand advertising world. Tech giants like Snap will likewise accelerate this process as they continue to double down on AR.

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Source: https://arvrjourney.com/can-snap-mainstream-ar-marketing-dde16e862041?source=rss—-d01820283d6d—4

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AR/VR

Facebook to Create 10,000 European Jobs to Build its Metaverse

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Mark Zuckerberg has been very vocal about turning Facebook into a metaverse company, having previously announced initiatives like a dedicated metaverse product group and that $50 million investment program. The latest step in that vision was revealed over the weekend with plans to create 10,000 new jobs at Facebook across Europe.

Horizon Worlds

In a blog post, Nick Clegg, VP Global Affairs, and Javier Olivan, VP Central Products said that: “Europe is hugely important to Facebook. From the thousands of employees in the EU to the millions of businesses using our apps and tools every day, Europe is a big part of our success, as Facebook is invested in the success of European companies and the wider economy.” Hence why the company wants to create so many jobs in the region over the next five years.

Facebook has yet to detail its overall metaverse vision, simply reiterating that its: “a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality,” and that: “No one company will own and operate the metaverse. Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability.”

It does however have a couple of products already in beta, the recently renamed Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms. Both serve different purposes in that fact that Horizon Worlds is a more community-driven platform where you can build your own worlds. Whilst Horizon Workrooms is purely designed for remote collaboration, with upcoming features including the integration of Zoom.

Horizon Workrooms

These are just going to be the tip of the iceberg as Facebook heavily invests in all aspects of the metaverse, with more “Horizon” products highly likely. The next could even be shown at Facebook Connect next week?

With all the hardware announcements going on last week Facebook also got in on the action, showcasing several prototypes including one with a retina display. As the company continues to reveal its metaverse plans, VRFocus will keep you updated.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/10/facebook-to-create-10000-european-jobs-to-build-its-metaverse/

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