VRChat Implements Avatar Performance Blocking to Provide a Better Experience for Oculus Quest Users: Recent Changes Have Led to Some Complaints

VRChat’s Move to Cross-Platform Content Has Led to Some Discontent

VRChat is making more changes to its social VR platform to better accommodate users of the wireless Oculus Quest VR headset, and some VRChat users are less than happy with the overall direction of VRChat, complaining that wired VR headset users are suffering at the expense of wireless users.

In an official blogpost dated June 11th, VRChat announced a new minimum displayed performance rank was added to the platform, mainly to improve performance for Quest users of the platform:

You can choose to block avatars based on their Avatar Performance Rank. This option is available in the “Performance Options” menu, accessible as a button in the top-right of the Safety tab in the main menu.

When you choose a Performance Rank in this menu, all avatars that are below that rank will be blocked by default and replaced with a placeholder avatar. You can choose between “Medium”, “Poor”, or “Very Poor”.

On VRChat for PC, the Minimum Displayed Performance Rank is set to “Very Poor” by default. This means that no avatars are hidden by default on PC. You can choose between “Medium”, “Poor”, or “Very Poor” options.

On VRChat for the Oculus Quest, the Minimum Displayed Performance Rank is set to “Medium” by default. You can choose to change this to “Poor” to permit showing avatars of that rank, but you may encounter performance issues. In addition, you cannot select the “Very Poor” level on VRChat for Quest. In other words, avatars that are ranked as “Very Poor” will never display on VRChat for the Oculus Quest. 

(This is essentially a version of the Avatar Rendering Complexity system which was implemented a couple of years ago in Second Life, where you could “turn off” other people’s avatars which placed a heavier burden on the graphics card of your computer.)

Over on the VRChat subReddit, some users are not happy about all the recent changes:

I am no developer nor a programmer but i can feel if, things get better or worst, and VRChat is 100% getting worse and worse every update and i hate to see it going that way. I have spent 1300+ hour in this game and i loved every minute of it except the crashers. With the resent update I felt like VIVE and Oculus users were pulled down to the sake of Oculus quest users, no hate on them I dont blame them they just want to experience the fun that we had, the only problem that bothers me is the drawing with a pen, it [is] so bad. Hope VRChat team can figure out the best solution for us.

Another user writes:

After reading through some threads, in particular FloppiiiVR’s thread: Thanks Devs to fuck all of us Animators over, I decided to make a thread to clarify a few things and share some thoughts about VRChat’s current state… I’m usually not the type to speak up in public, but I feel like a few things need to be said. The latest patch has brought a lot of mixed feelings in the community and it’s been reflected throughout VRChat, the subReddit and many Discord channels dedicated to the game. Obviously the direction and changes that the devs are going to with the game are unhealthy for the game, whether you agree or disagree with said changes doesn’t change the fact that it’s leading to a lot of drama within the community.

I feel like a lot of this also has to do with the Oculus Quest as it’s far less capable then PC VR. Trying to mix a mobile platform with a PC platform is possible, but it shouldn’t cripple the higher end of the spectrum as it should still be the majority and your main target audiance.

And I have to say, based on the time that I have spent so far in VRChat in my Oculus Quest, that it now feels as if that VRChat has been split into two separate platforms, with very little overlap between them. Perhaps this situation will improve over time as more people create worlds and avatars that can be seen by both groups of users, but it is clear that the most recent changes made to VRChat have not been universally appreciated by its much larger wired VR headset userbase. I predict that VRChat is going to face some signifcant challenges trying to keep both wired and wireless headset users happy.

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VRChat in the Oculus Quest Has Been Somewhat Buggy and Rather Underwhelming So Far

So, I have been visiting VRChat using my new Oculus Quest standalone VR headset off and on since its launch two weeks ago, and to sum up my experience in one word, it has been… underwhelming. VRChat was the first app I tested on my first day using the Quest, and I wrote:

VRChat on the Oculus Quest works the same way as it does on the Oculus Rift, and in no time I was up and running. I selected a portal to an avatar shop and picked out an anime avatar girl. I also visited Al’s Avatar Corridors, a popular and well-known avatar shop in VRChat, but I was disappointed to find that most of the selections would not work in an Quest environment.

When you encounter someone whose avatar is too complex to render for the Quest, their avatar is replaced with a grey robot which has “PC”: stamped on its chest. I predict that many Quest users of VRChat will soon realize that they are missing a LOT of what made VRChat so attractive in the first place, as they visit place after place where most of the other avatars are grey robots. Will that impact how popular VRChat is with Quest users? Perhaps. Only time will tell. 

Well, two weeks in, I can report that there is a noticeable jump in the number of Quest-ready avatars at Al’s Avatar Corridors, which is very nice to see. I selected Winnie the Pooh as my avatar and set out to explore this evening.

And I was frankly disappointed in what I found. I would visit world after world packed with grey PC robots (which is what non-optimized avatars look like to Quest users), and when I made an effort to find Quest-friendly spaces like the Quest Café and the Bamboo Tample, I found them deserted or near-deserted (maybe I’ve just been unlucky?). I also noticed severely degraded performance in that any world I visited that had more than a handful of avatars in it (and quite often, the sound was very choppy). In one instance, I actually got VR sick and had to take off my headset, and that almost never happens to me anymore!

And I’m not the only one who has noticed that VRChat on the Quest is not that great an end-user experience. On the VRChat subReddit, a user named SevereMatrex posted:

Despite the title, being able to play VRChat on a mobile headset is very impressive. I didn’t think it would even be available. But, that’s not to say it’s enjoyable (at the moment). Here’s everything that makes the game currently unplayable on the Quest.

Crashes are very frequent. I crash to the Oculus home at least once every hour with no warning. I could be sitting in the default home and I would crash.

I get sent back to the default VRChat home at random. Not sure if it’s my internet connection (other online games run perfectly fine), but I often would just get sent back to my home at random while in worlds, or while joining worlds, which brings me to my next point.

Out of the (notably very few) worlds that are available at the minute, the optimization on some of them is horrible. Even the world such as The Box with just a couple people in it (all with the default PC avatar), I notice a huge drop in frame rate. And then there are worlds like Japan Shrine, which is a fairly popular and good-looking world, but not on Quest! I know this is because of the world creator, but many worlds are like this. Sky boxes are insanely pixelated and textures popping in and out make it feel like there’s no point of playing in VR, at least on the Quest. I know it’s a mobile device with only so many resources, but I still feel like it things could look better (at least eliminate the popping textures…)

90% of people are the default PC avatar. I know this will change in time as more people start converting their avatar to mobile friendly, but as it is right now, I genuinely feel out of place. It’s honestly lonely. It really makes it hard to make friends when everyone is a damn robot. You don’t even know how tall or short they are, so you have no idea if you’re looking at their face or if they’re some embarrassing avatar that you have no idea they are using.

SevereMatrex’s post has sparked numerous comments, so I would urge you to head over to Reddit and read the whole thing for yourself. There’s quite a bit of debate over recent changes VRChat has made which might (or might not) be contributing to technical problems, notably a switch from locally-calculated IK (inverse kinematics) to network-calculated IK.

Now, I am not an expert on IK, but what I do know is this: I had anticipated that VRChat on the Quest would be a lot more fun, and (at least, so far) it hasn’t been. I’m starting to wonder if trying to shoehorn the VRChat experience into the Quest was a tactical mistake, and that the game, as it is right now, is still too unoptimized to run properly on a standalone headset. It will be interesting to see how VRChat responds to these and other complaints from users, and how they will improve the service for Quest users over the next few months. It’s clear that at least some users aren’t happy, but it is still very, very early days.

But I’m also interested to hear what you have to say. What’s your take on playing VRChat in the Oculus Quest? Are you happy with it? What problems have you encountered? Feel free to leave a comment, or join the conversation over on the official RyanSchultz.com Discord server!

VRChat Prepares for the Oculus Quest by Redesigning Its Homes and Social Hub

In a recent blogpost, VRChat announced some changes to its platform to accommodate the expected influx of new users when the Oculus Quest begins shipping next week:

In preparation for our launch on the Oculus Quest next week, we’ve created a new VRChat Home and VRChat Hub for both our PC and Quest users! Both of the worlds are cross-platform, and will allow Quest and PC users to interact and chat with each other.

The new VRChat Home includes portals to popular destinations, as well as a new avatar selector next to a mirror. The redesigned social hub brings back the familiar campfire, which many people remember from the early days of VRChat:

The Hub has received quite a makeover. We’ve found that users tend to prefer smaller (but not too small) instances to chat with their friends, with areas that naturally lean into permitting groups to separate out and have conversations. A darker evening lighting scheme tends to be more favorable and provides an “after-hours” feel…The campfire provides a comfortable, natural area to gather up.

The New VRChat Hub

You should see these changes the next time you log in to VRChat.

I predict that VRChat will experience a second boom in use after the Oculus Quest begins to ship to consumers on May 21st. VRChat is one of only three social VR apps to be available for the Quest at launch date, along with Bigscreen and Rec Room.

The Great Pug in VRChat, the Most Popular Pub in Social VR, Hits the 10 Million Visit Mark

Not all social VR spaces are struggling to attract users. Some have been surprisingly successful, and here is a good example. Bryan Bortz (a.k.a. OwlBoy) has just announced that the virtual pub he created in VRChat, The Great Pug, has now received 10 million visits!

The Great Pug just rolled over to 10 Million visits according to the VRChat API. Thanks to everyone who has visited, made friends, and supported The Pug over the years. Thank you to everyone who has helped me learn and improve during this journey.

The Great Pug

According to Bryan’s Patreon page:

The Great Pug is the most popular hangout spot in the metaverse. It’s a pub where people meet, hang out, chat, perform, show off, and role play. The Great Pug is dynamic with regular updates and improvements. It plays host to large annual parties on St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Along with other parties throughout the year. Custom decorations are put up for each event and taken down shortly after. Musical performances happen regularly in select instances. 

My focus with The Great Pug is the social space it provides. I want it to be a place you visit for the other people you find there.

I hope to have OwlBoy as a guest on an upcoming episode of the Metaverse Newscast. I’m sure he has many wonderful stories to tell as the keeper of the most visited pub in the metaverse! Congratulations on reaching this milestone!