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‘High Fidelity’ Shifts Focus Towards Non-VR Due to Slow Growth

high-fidelity-1021x580Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity and founder of Second Life, announced at a High Fidelity community meeting recently that the company will be scaling back their VR efforts, focusing more on improving their PC and Mac performance. The company has also shut down all first-party user spaces and associated servers except for a single orientation room, which will be used for new users only.

High Fidelity is still allowing individual users to run their own spaces/servers, although refocusing efforts to flush out its desktop client and encourage user-generated spaces undoubtedly comes as a cost-savings maneuver by the company.

As first reported by New World Notes, Rosedale’s reasoning behind the move comes down to a pretty big linchpin: VR headsets sales. They simply aren’t getting into enough hands to make the company profitable in its current form.

“One thing to do, which all the companies have been doing, is better support for desktop users. Because any assessment of the rate of progress on HMDs is a sobering one; they’re not selling enough to create a general-purpose community that is both interesting and profitable,” Rosedale said at the meeting. “So, it’s really important to recognize, that through no fault of our collective selves, it’s not working. This model is not working right now. The flat world, that is an open building environment, is not compelling enough as it stands right now for the number of HMDs that are out there to get lift off. And so we’ve gotta think hard about that.”

High Fidelity was designed to be a platform anticipating the very broad use of VR across the Internet for things like this—public meetings, going to work, going to school— doing all kinds of different things.”

Rosedale says that while they’ve done their best to get that aspect of their business started, the company feels it’s making a mistake by taking an active role in the community by supporting first-party spaces. This, he says, comes down to the company’s inability to manage ban lists and moderate users.

“Let’s actually add all [users from NeosVR, Anyland, and Rec Room] together into one product. That company will not survive. There’s not enough revenue,” he said at the community meeting. “Everybody here that’s having such a good time: you guys need to pay us $10,000 a month for us to keep the company going indefinitely into the future, for us to basically be a positive cash-flow company, as we say here in The Valley. And everybody else in VR right now is faced by that.”

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