VRChat Hits New Record of 24,000 Concurrent Users Over Halloween

Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash (edited in PhotoShop to add the VRChat logo)

The Road to VR website reported that social VR platform VRChat reached a new user concurrency record over Hallowe’en:

Following a big spike in usage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, social VR app VRChat has reached a new record of 24,000 concurrent users. Its creators say the surge was driven in part by the launch of Quest 2 and virtual Halloween festivities.

Indeed, with more users joining VRChat from Quest and now Quest 2, the app reached a new record of 24,000 concurrent users over the Halloween weekend, CEO Graham Gaylor tells Road to VR. This eclipses the previous record of 20,000 concurrent users in early 2018 when the app went viral on Twitch.

It would appear that a great many people, who would normally socialize in person at parties and bars at Hallowe’en, chose instead to stay home and strap on their VR headsets, due to social gathering restrictions imposed by the pandemic. One poster on the Coronavirus subReddit commented:

Extrovert here and struggling. Thankfully buying a Quest 2 has ACTUALLY been quite the pleasantly surprisingly alternative for me. Especially the VRChat clubs which remind me of my nightlife. I know not everyone can do it but I wish my friends still travelling and partying would give it a shot too.

This new user concurrency figure smashed a two-year-old record, when VRChat suddenly and unexpectedly went viral back in 2018 (largely due to the influence of livestreamers and YouTubers such as PewDiePie), reaching a peak of 20,000 concurrent users on Steam.

You might be surprised to learn that only half of VRChat’s current users access the app via VR headset. Road to VR reported:

Of course it’s worth noting that VRChat is not exclusively a VR game; it supports VR and non-VR modes. Interestingly, Gaylor indicates the app’s share of VR users has actually grown significantly in the last few months. Earlier this year in April around 30% of VRChat users were using VR; in October the share of VR users was up to 43%.

Among the 24,000 concurrent users specifically, Gaylor confirmed that an even larger share of users—52% or 12,500—were in VR.

Wagner James Au of the blog New World Notes also reported on the event, including statistics from Steam and a quote from his source for the news, Adeon:

Adeon isn’t surprised: “Confirms a lot what I see too. I have lots of friends that have an Oculus Rift, but still choose to run the Steam version on it, just because of Steam’s social features, and Oculus requires Facebook to have Oculus friends. That’s one major oversight for Facebook. People don’t want to use the platform if its social features aren’t cross-play with their friends’ setups.”

It’s an oversight—and a paradoxical one: The main point for requiring Facebook log-in, an Oculus developer recently told me, was to encourage users to interact more in VR with their Facebook friends. (Data harvesting for ads being a secondary goal.) But because so many gamers have strong social connections apart from Zuckerberg’s social network, the Facebook log-in requirement can actually disconnect them from many of their friends.

That to one side, VRChat’s usage growth is impressive. I would not be surprised if its monthly active user numbers have also surpassed that of Second Life as well.

I also would be very interested in seeing a head-to-head comparison in monthly active user figures between VRChat and Second Life (although I think SL would probably still be the winner here, as they too have reported an increase in usage because of the pandemic).

Pandemic Diary: November 8th, 2020

Insomnia is gonna kill me (Photo by Megan te Boekhorst on Unsplash)

The New York Times absolutely hit the nail on the head with a Nov. 6th article titled Canada Hasn’t Slept Well Since the U.S. Election (archived version). Catherine Porter wrote:

It was Robin Williams, of all people, who coined the phrase that I’ve heard repeatedly in Toronto over the past few weeks [about Canada’s relationship with the United States].

“You are like a really nice apartment over a meth lab,” he said during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit in 2013.

I’ve read it on Twitter. I’ve heard it while standing in a socially distanced line on the street. And most recently, it kicked off the main editorial in one of Canada’s national newspapers, The Globe and Mail.

It’s been hard to concentrate up here, with all the noise on the other side of the border. First, the coronavirus got way out of control down there. Then there were the Black Lives Matter protests and the counter-protests. Now, do I have to say it?

Tuesday’s election has caused people around the world to fidget.

Canadians have been ripping their cuticles off.

I’ll admit it; when I first heard the news that the news networks had called the U.S. federal election for Biden/Harris (when the state of Georgia first tipped over from red to blue), I felt as if a great weight was being lifted off my shoulders. I actually sang and danced in my apartment. It was the happiest I’d felt in months.

Photo by Evan Vucci, Associated Press (source)

U.S. politics aside, things have pretty much gone from bad to worse here with respect to the coronavirus pandemic here in Manitoba. The city of Winnipeg went into emergency, code-red lockdown this past Monday, a move strongly urged by Winnipeg doctors. The lockdown was extended to the large area of southern Manitoba between Winnipeg and the American border yesterday.

And Manitobans are not very happy with their premier (the Canadian version of a state governor), Conservative party leader Brian Pallister, for his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis here. He has been plummeting in recent opinion polls for his misplaced priorities (such as pouring money into a “Manitoba is reopening” advertising campaign instead of expanding COVID-19 testing centres and providing N95 masks and other PPE for front-line healthcare workers). He recently asked Manitobans to cut down their personal contacts by 75% this month, a request to which I snarkily tweeted in response:

Premier Pallister wants us to associate with 75% fewer people during the pandemic. I’m quite willing to associate with fewer Pallisters, to do my part. MANITOBA IS A CLUSTERFUCK. DO YOUR JOB, MAN.

The most heartbreaking thing about this pandemic is the toll it is taking on seniors personal care homes and hospitals here in Winnipeg, where there have been serious outbreaks and numerous deaths. CTV News reported:

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said outbreaks have been declared at The Pas Homeless Shelter-Oscar’s Place, Maplewood Manor in Steinbach and at the St. Norbert personal care home in Winnipeg.

Each site has been moved to red or critical on the province’s pandemic response system.

Roussin also provided an update on some of the hardest-hit facilities throughout Manitoba.

Parkview Place has a total of 147 cases, 36 which are staff and 111 residents. There have also been 23 deaths at the care home.

Maples Personal Care Home continues to struggle with cases, with 176 in total being reported. The cases include 55 staff, 121 residents, and nine deaths.

Victoria General Hospital has 67 cases, which is broken down into 34 staff, 33 residents, and five deaths.

There are 141 cases at the Headingley Correctional Centre; 29 are staff and 112 are inmates.

And I have been holed up in my apartment, working away on various projects. Thank God this week and next week are vacation; I’m exhausted and I desperately need to recharge my batteries. I’ve essentially been working nonstop (days, evenings, and weekends) all of September and October at my full-time paying job as an academic librarian at the University of Manitoba. But the worst is over now.

Between the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. election, this has been a rollercoaster week. I have been sleeping very poorly as a result. I went to bed at midnight last night, slept fitfully for only a couple of hours, and got out of bed again at 2:00 a.m., to do what I do lately when I can’t sleep: clean through my main Second Life avatar’s inventory (I am now down to just over 234,000 items). I’ll go back to bed when I feel tired, and try once again to get some sleep. Insomnia is gonna kill me.

God, what a week. I may yet decide to pull out my Trump Baby avatar for a final “victory” lap of Second Life on January 20th, when Donald Trump officially gets booted out of office, whether he likes it or not (here’s a handy, live countdown clock to that blessed event).

Believe me, I am feasting on the schadenfreude!

Bye, Felicia!
This cartoon by Canadian political cartoonist Michael de Adder pretty much says it all…I still vividly remember Trump having peaceful protesters tear-gassed just so he could strike this photo-op pose with a Bible in front of a church near the White House (blogpost).

Stay sane and stay healthy!