In a Medium post last month, VRChat announced:
VRChat is grateful to have an extremely supportive community, ready and willing to join us as we develop the leading social VR platform in the world.
Often, we’ve been asked: “Hey, how can I help you? How can I support VRChat?”, where the answer has been “Enjoy VRChat with your friends, and tell others about it!”
Today, we want to introduce a new way for you to support us—VRChat Plus.
As always, the core experience of playing VRChat remains free. The VRChat+ subscription is a way for you to show your support to VRChat, and get some cool bonuses as our way of saying thanks.
VRChat Plus is our first step towards our long-term goals for monetization. We want to allow people who create content — be it worlds, avatars, performances, games, hangouts, experiences, whatever — to be able to support themselves. VRChat is a place where creativity is unbounded. If people who like your work want to support you, we want to help them help you. We’re still working on all this, but we’ll keep you in the know as we move forward.
Well, on December 3rd, 2020, VRChat Plus was launched. Here’s a one-minute YouTube video, providing a summary of the benefits of VRChat Plus:
This move reminds me of nothing so much as Sansar’s similar attempt to get people to subscribe to their social VR platform (I just double-checked, and yes, even since Linden Lab sold Sansar to Wookey, the subscription page is still up).
I, of coursse, would be highly interested to know from Wookey just many people have actually ponied up for a subscription, but of course, they aren’t going to tell me that. I doubt it is a very high figure, although the expedited customer support options and Marvelous Designer* subscription discounts might tempt some users to open their wallets.
If you sign up for VRChat Plus now, during their Early Supporter phase, you will get a bonus:
To sign up for VRChat Plus, you can log into VRChat on Steam, open your main menu, and click the “VRC+” button at the top, and select either the monthly (US$9.99 per month) or annual (US$99.99 per year) purchase options. VRChat states:
For the moment, VRChat Plus is only available on Steam. We’re working towards supporting more platforms soon.
I wonder how much of a cut Facebook is expecting from VRChat when and if they launch VRChat Plus on the Oculus Store. (Steam usually extracts a 30% cut, as I learned when Sansar launched on Steam. So, if you purchase Sansar dollars in the version of the Sansar client you download from Steam, Steam takes a cut, but if you choose to download Sansar from their website instead, Steam does not take a percentage.)
Now for me, stuck up here in the frozen Canadian prairie hinterlands, US$99.99 works out to 127.79 Canadian dollars, which is quite a lot to ask for the limited benefits you currently receive. I’ll be interested to see what future benefits VRChat decides to offer to sweeten the deal somewhat.
However, I happily pay Linden Lab US$99.99 a year for each of three separate Premium accounts on Second Life, which gives me, among other benefits, more group slots, priority teleport access to overcrowded events, and a lovely Linden Home. In fact, a year ago, I actually upgraded one avatar from Basic to Premium just to snag one of the new Victorian Linden Homes! So, as you can see, if you offer the right mix of perks, you can sway people into a paid subscription model for your social VR platform or virtual world.
*Marvelous Designer is the software package used to create avatar clothing in Sansar. I have written about my adventures in Sansar avatar clothing design here.