This post is a supplement to Philip’s blog post, Toward A Digital World, to address questions we anticipate users may have regarding our strategic direction.
Why are you changing course?
We haven’t changed our mission: to create the building blocks for the Metaverse. But at the moment, there just aren’t enough people using VR headsets to sustain a business that makes a little money from a lot of users. There will be, but it will take a few years. In the meantime, we need to focus on a more specific use case for VR. Based on our own experience, we think that’s possibly going to be the workplace. We’ve always envisioned “working” in VR as a critical part of the virtual world, and now we’re investing in work as our best bet to increase user adoption and help get us into the mainstream.
Is High Fidelity in trouble?
Not at all. We have more financial backing than anyone in this space. VR is uncharted territory, and we’ve been experimenting to find the right short- and long-term models. We see plenty of opportunities, and with the help from our incredible investors, we have the resources to go after them.
What did Philip mean when he said, “This model is not working right now”?
HMDs aren’t selling fast enough to sustain a business model that depends on mass consumer adoption of VR. Monetization opportunity for creators requires a critical mass of diverse users spending a lot of time per session online. We aren’t there yet in terms of the HMD hardware. We’re a ways off being able to be productive wearing an HMD that’s comfortable to wear for hours at a time. So we think it’ll start heavily with desktop usage, and HMD usage will increase over time.
Why did High Fidelity shut down its public spaces?
We created High Fidelity so that other people could create in VR. While we’ve learned a lot from experiences like Nefertari’s Tomb and events like FUTVRELANDS and Multi-Con, we ultimately felt like we were doing the community a disservice by encouraging people to look to us for content. We want to support creator content. Running our own public spaces meant we were essentially competing with our own users. And given our own refocus on virtual spaces for team work, it isn’t the best use of our resources to keep those spaces staffed and running 24 hours a day.
Will you reopen public spaces?
We have no plans to reopen 24/7 public spaces hosted by High Fidelity at this time. We’re focusing our full efforts towards an application that helps remote teams work together. We will continue to open spaces periodically for various events and transactions, such as bank appointments.
Are you giving up on blockchain?
Not at all. Blockchain underlies everything we do: both the content and the creator economy. High Fidelity is one of the few technologies in existence based on a working blockchain. We still see a vital role for blockchain in VR, and when the demand catches up with the technology, we’ll be ready.
What will happen to the Marketplace?
We plan to continue to maintain the Marketplace and will continue to accept submissions from creators who wish to sell items.
What will happen to my HFC?
There are no planned changes to HFC. You can continue to transact with HFC, cash out, etc.
Do you still plan to support the creator/developer community?
Absolutely. We’ll continue adding features to our open-source code base that align with our strategic goals. We also want to encourage developers to propose their own projects. We still plan to hold meetings with developers once a month to discuss such projects. The next one is on May 14, 2019, at 3pm Pacific Time. We know it is challenging to find a time that works for all users, so we encourage users to review and submit to the open-source project proposal list that’s on our roadmap where we can have a public dialogue.
Will you still be accepting feature requests, and what will happen to requests already made?
Unfortunately, no, we do not have the resources to work on broad-based feature requests from users. As such, will be closing the feature request list down as of June 1st. We will no longer triage feature requests; however, leaving it up for a few weeks allows our community to review it in the event it inspires open-source project proposal ideas. Unfortunately, there’s no way to make the feature request board read only.
What opportunities do you see for High Fidelity content creators with the new focus?
We think the workplace focus presents a huge opportunity for VR developers and content creators. These early users will want, and need, their help, whether that’s designing virtual spaces or integrating the software teams use every day.
Will you continue to offer experiences like Nefertari’s Tomb and Remembering D-Day?
We’ll discontinue these experiences after the events currently scheduled to allow us to focus on our new direction.
Do you still plan to add support for the Quest, Focus, and other new HMDs?
Yes, that’s still very much on the roadmap. We don’t have timing of the availability on specific devices at this time.
Will High Fidelity still be available on Steam and the Oculus Store?
Yes, we feel these are still important channels for our creators’ content to be discovered by other High Fidelity users.
Will you still accept open-source project requests?
Yes. Please submit them here and/or attend our monthly meeting to discuss.
Will you accept bug fixes?
Yes. We encourage users to continue to submit bugs. We are unable to reliably address bugs reported on the forum, so please do not expect a response from us here on the forum.
What if I have an issue with my account that involves sharing personal information?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are having an issue that would require disclosing your account or other personal information.
Can I still run my domain?
Yes. High Fidelity is an open-source platform and we hope users will continue to run their own domains.
What will happen to the forum?
There are currently no big changes planned for the forum. However, as a reminder, bug reports or open-source project ideas should be submitted to the roadmap and will not be addressed on the forum. You can also expect us to provide more regular updates on our blog, which is the primary go-to for company news. Subscribe to our blog here.
When will the new product geared towards teams launch?
We do not have a launch date at this time. We’re in early testing with a number of companies with remote teams. They are giving us great feedback, which is helping guide our development efforts. If you’re interested in trying it out, you can request an invite here.
Will the new product also be open source?
We’ll continue leading development of the High Fidelity platform, which will remain open source. We plan to build all current and future applications on top of the platform. It’s possible that some features related to this new product will be proprietary; however, no decisions have been made.
Does this mean that you are going to improve the High Fidelity experience for desktop users?
Yes. Since many people will use their laptop or desktop PC to access High Fidelity, broadening access is a key part of our strategy. As noted in Philip’s blog post, we simply feel that mass-market adoption of VR hardware is a few years away still.
Will there be better Mac support?
Yes. Improvements to running High Fidelity on the Mac are critical. In fact, we’re making significant progress there already.
What about mobile device support?
We hope to be accessible on as many devices as possible—this includes mobile devices. It’s too early for us to commit to a timeline.