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: October 31st, 2020

No trick or treating this year! (source: Government of Ontario)

Normally, on the evening of Hallowe’en, my best friend John and I have a regular routine to avoid the pesky little trick-or-treaters going door-to-door in our suburban neighbourhood. Instead, we leave our homes (carefully turning off our entrance lights to indicate that no one is home and zero candy is forthcoming), and we both decamp to a local restaurant for a leisurely meal and some conversation over a beer or two. We’ve been doing this for years,

Unfortunately, this year, there will be neither the trick-or-treaters nor the restaurant meal. Yesterday, the provincial health department reported a surge of 480 new cases of COVID-19, almost all of them occurring in and near the city of Winnipeg:

The latest COID-19 statistics from Manitoba (source)

Three more seniors have died from COVID-19 at Parkview Place, one of several seniors homes, hospitals, and schools where outbreaks are currently taking place. While the five-day testing positivity rate in the province as a whole is 8.6% (that is, of all COVID-19 tests conducted within the past five days, 8.6 out of every 100 people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus), the 5-day positivity rate in Winnipeg itself is higher, at 9.7%.

Effective Monday, the province has established an emergency, code-red lockdown in and around the city of Winnipeg (affecting approximately 780,000 people). What this means is:

  • Hospitals and healthcare services will continue to offer urgent and emergency surgeries, procedures and diagnostic services, but elective and non-urgent surgery and diagnostic services will be postponed. All hospital visitation has been suspended, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis for patients receiving end-of-life care, in labour and delivery, and in pediatrics.
  • Public and private gatherings (both inside and outside) are restricted to a maximum of five people. “Limiting contacts outside the household is strongly encouraged.”
  • All restaurants and bars are closed, except for take-out, drive-through, and delivery.
  • All indoor and outdoor sports and recreational facilities, group sports, bowling alleys, etc, are closed. Gyms and fitness centres are restricted to 25% of regular full capacity, and all exercisers must wear masks.
  • Non-essential retail stores will be allowed to remain open at 25% of regular full capacity (or 5 people, whatever is higher). Grocery stores and pharmacies will operate at 50 per cent capacity. “eService, pick-up or delivery [are] recommended whenever possible. Encourage limiting the number of people from each household who go shopping.”
  • Casinos, arcades, gaming establishments, VLTs, movie theatres, concert halls, museums, galleries, and libraries must close (this includes the three libraries that have reopened at the University of Manitoba).
  • Community, cultural and religious gatherings will be limited to 15% capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Notable in its absence from this list is shutdowns of K-12 schools, where the provincial advice is to continue blended (in-person and online) learning, and to ensure as much physical distancing as possible between students when in class. However, given the way things are going, I will not be surprised if the lockdown is extended to both public and private elementary, junior high and senior high schools as well. (One Winninpeg chool, Centre Scolaire Léo-Rémillard, now has 14 coronavirus cases, has 4 classes in self-isolation as a precaution, and has already decided to move its Grade 12 classes completely to remote learning.)

All the leaves have fallen from the trees, there is a cold westerly wind, and the sky is overcast and grey. There is already snow on the ground, and below-freezing temperatures. November, December, and January are going to be difficult months for us here in Manitoba.

Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Second Life Hallowe’en Shop and Hop: Pick Up L$1,000 in Free Store Credit at Addams and Bumblebee

Because I will be working all weekend of various work projects for my full-time paying job at my university library system, I regret that I will not have time to browse through the Second Life Hallowe’en Shop and Hop event, which runs from October 2nd to November 1st, 2020. (Sorry, guys!)

However, thanks to the fast-working Russians over at Second Life – FREE (which is a little-known-about Russian-language group on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook; use the Russian-to-English translator in your Chrome browser), I have seen pictures of most of the gifts available from the participating vendors. Using this handy list of SLURLs to take you directly to the vendor booth by name, I wanted to highlight three gifts which you might be interested in, which are not necessarily Hallowe’en-themed.

Baiastice

First up is the Baiastice booth, which offers the following low-cut, slinky gold minidress, with a HUD allowing you to change the gold to any of eleven other colours. Very versatile, and wearable in all seasons, not just Hallowe’en!

Bumblebee

Bumblebee has a panel in their booth which, when clicked, gives you a L$500 gift card, which you can use to buy anything in the Bumblebee store. (You can also combine it with the free gift card available in the store, if you have not already picked that up; more details here.)

Addams

Addams is another store offering L$500 in free store credit at the Hallowe’en Shop and Hop! Just click the sign at their booth, and the credits will automatically be added to your Addams account, for use on your next shopping trip!

There are eight sims for you to scratch that shopping itch at the Shop and Hop, and each participating vendor has a gift for you in their booth! Happy freebie shopping!

Halloween Creepy Crawl in Second Life: Some Pictures

Halloween is probably the biggest holiday in Second Life! Here are a few snapshots taken during the Halloween Creepy Crawl (I was dressed as gothic horror Carmen Miranda, shaking my skull maracas!):

Creepy Crawl at the Sanctuary of Rock
(with Strawberry Linden and Xiola Linden front and centre!)
A massive crowd of 78 avatars dancing at Club End of Days

I saw some really stunning costumes! And it was so much fun, a reminder of the community spirit that makes Second Life such a vibrant virtual world. Happy Halloween!