UPDATED! Herding Cats, Part II: Taking a Second Step Towards Developing a Taxonomy of Metaverse Platforms by Looking at the Various Purposes of Social VR Platforms

(This blogpost is the second in a series; the first one is here.)

I thought I would set aside some time today, on a somewhat lazy Saturday, brew myself a large pot of black coffee, and attempt to categorize all the social VR platforms I have written about on this blog into some sort of taxonomy. No small feat! But at least I have a full day to tinker with the project. (I might turn this into a journal article and get it published somewhere.)

As my starting points, I used my Comprehensive List of Social VR Platforms, as well as my more detailed Comparison Chart of Sixteen Social VR Platforms (which is now a bit dated, since High Fidelity has essentially shut down, but no matter).

I decided to first try and organize the wide variety of social VR platforms by primary purpose by creating this Venn diagram using Canva.com (the following diagram is available to view and download in various sizes from Flickr, up to 1024 by 768 pixels, just click on it):

Social VR Platforms by Purpose (Version 2.1)

And, this is finally my opportunity to compile a somewhat complete list of what I collectively call the YARTVRA platforms (an acronym I coined, which stands for Yet Another Remote Teams Virtual Reality App). This is currently a hot market for social VR, as corporations struggle to try to provide immersive, remote workteams support to employees working from home during the global public health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yes, I am going to make the YARTVRA acronym a thing (WORK. WITH. ME, PEOPLE!)

UPDATE May 11th, 2020: Based on feedback I have received, and after doing a little more thinking, I have made some adjustments to version 1.0 of this Venn diagram, and I have now updated it version 2.0. Thank you to everybody who took the time to reach out to me! Summary of changes made is here.

UPDATED AGAIN 9:03 p.m. May 11th, 2020: New version! Version 2.1 (summary of changes made is here).

UPDATE May 12th, 2020: I also wanted to add to this blogpost some thoughtful comments by the Voices of VR podcaster and VR expert Kent Bye, who retweeted this blogpost to his followers on Twitter with the following comment:

Conceptually, any sufficiently robust virtual world will be able to handle multiple contexts ranging from going on a date, hanging with friends, playing games, learning, working. I see context is more driven more by the culture and people using it, more than the platform itself.

Infographic by Kent Bye

He added:

I use the lens of qualities of presence:
Active Presence: Rec Room
Mental & Social Presence: AltSpaceVR, Mozilla Hubs, Engage
Embodied Presence: VRChat
Emotional Presence: Wave, Museum of Other Realities
All of these are always happening to different degrees in social VR, but there’s combos and a center of gravity.

Four Qualities of Presence in Social VR (from a presentation slide by Kent Bye)

Thanks, Kent!

UPDATED! A Look at the 2019 VR Industry Landscape: Are All These Companies Actually Generating Revenue?

Peter Graham, a senior staff writer for the popular VR news website VRFocus, reports on an infographic published annually by the San Francisco-based venture capital firm The Venture Reality Fund, in an article titled The Venture Reality Fund’s 2019 VR Landscape Highlights 550+ Companies Generating Revenue:

Image from VRFocus (full-size version available here)

He writes:

Every year San Francisco-based venture capital firm The Venture Reality Fund (The VR Fund) releases a report on the industry as a whole, detailing the major or most influential players across a range of categories. The new 2019 VR Landscape has just been released, this time based on those who have revenue only, with over 550 companies making the cut.

So, of course, I used my handy image editor to zoom in to take a closer look at the companies listed in the Social box on this graphic (see image on the right). I do see that all of the usual suspects are represented 😉 (for example, Against Gravity is the maker of Rec Room). But I must agree with a commenter on Peter Graham’s article, who said:

Glad to see the updated version of this graphic, but many of the companies in this list are no longer active or totally defunct.

For example, underneath Orbus is the steampunk-themed logo for Surreal, a social VR platform I blogged about before. A company that has revenue? I doubt Surreal has earned a dime in profit for this busted product. Surreal (still) completely fails to work with my Oculus Touch hand controllers, despite reporting on their Steam page that version 3.0 of the software has Oculus Touch support. The fact that Surreal is even listed here on this infographic makes me seriously doubt how thoroughly all these listed companies were vetted.

By the way, according to their Wikipedia page, Against Gravity is now known as Rec Room Inc., and is now using the orange Rec Room logo instead of that stylized A. Also, that VRChat logo looks very dated to me. All of this information could have been easily checked before publishing this infographic by doing a few Google searches.

Another thing that sticks out like a sore thumb to me is the Decentraland logo (to the right of the Salin logo near the bottom of the box). That’s also an outdated logo, and even worse, Decentraland does not even support VR, and it is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future! Another mistake that makes me question the validity of the rest of the information presented in this graphic. Somebody did a really sloppy job in checking this infographic for accuracy.

I see High Fidelity listed in this box, too. They are relying on the US$72.9 million they raised in venture capital, and I’m quite sure they are feeling some pressure from their financial backers to turn a profit, but I rather doubt that they have generated any actual revenue from customers. As someone once memorably said on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server (and I am sorry, but can’t find the exact quote, so this is a paraphrase), “You can’t make it difficult to give the company money.” And High Fidelity’s over-complicated Marketplace submission process, with their originally ambitious plan to screen every single submission for quality, and to ensure it was not someone else’s intellectual property, was a classic textbook example of making it very hard to give them money.

UPDATE Aug. 29th: I now remember who first voiced the idea that High Fidelity was making it difficult to give them money—it was Dale Glass! If you’re interested, Dale has written a guest editorial on what he thinks is wrong with High Fidelity.

There are also a few companies listed here I have never heard of before: Cluster, Salin, Teemew, and Normal. Which of course means I get to do more exploring! Yay! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted as to what I find.

Second Life Infographic: Some Statistics from 15 Years of SL

Both Daniel Voyager and Wagner James Au have posted an infographic that Linden Lab shared with them, giving some statistics on the occasion of Second Life’s upcoming 15th anniversary. (Somehow, I seem to have been left off the list of bloggers to receive this graphic…. hello, Ebbe? Remember me? I’m over here! *waves frantically* I know you read this blog! Could you pull some strings and get me on the secret blogger mailing list?)

Anyway, I thought I would share it, and a similar graphic from SL’s 10th anniversary for comparison purposes (both of which I took from Daniel Voyager’s blog, which I do recommend you follow):


Keep in mind that of those 57 million accounts created since 2003, Wagner James Au estimates that only about half a million accounts are active users. He says:

Despite 57,000,000 total accounts and 350,000 new registrations per month, the active Second Life userbase remains around 500,000-600,000:  Over 10 years ago, SL’s active userbase reached a plateau of around 500,000 monthly active users, and despite continued new user sign-ups of around 350,000 every month, the number of returning users stubbornly refuses to grow much more than that — and just as mysteriously, stubbornly refuses to shrink much, either.

And here’s the infographic from the tenth anniversary of Second Life:


Infographic: Comparing Sansar and High Fidelity

As I have said before, it’s only natural to want to compare two of the VR-capable social virtual worlds: High Fidelity (founded in 2013 by the visionary Philip Rosedale), and Sansar by Linden Lab (the company founded in 1999, also by Philip Rosedale, before he left to start HiFi; the current CEO is Ebbe Altberg). The two virtual worlds have much in common, but there are some significant differences between them.

My first blogpost comparing Sansar and High Fidelity back in August generated a fair bit of traffic for the Sansar Newsblog, but that post is now dated. Some of the information I gave is no longer accurate because of recent updates to both platforms.

So it’s time for an infographic I created using the free design service, Canva.com, comparing and contrasting both virtual worlds. (Philip Rosedale himself said that my infographic looked good, so I feel fairly confident that it is accurate. I don’t need Ebbe Altberg to sign off on my Sansar information; I am already somewhat of an expert in that particular area!)


I hope that this information helps people understand the differences between the two virtual world platforms. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and I want to do what I can to help correct it. Thanks!