VRChat Is Planning for a Virtual Economy, Currency, and a Marketplace for User Generated Content

VRChat just posted a tweet to let people know they’re hiring:

So, I moseyed over to take a look at their job listings. Among other things, they don’t mind if you are a remote worker:

The VRChat team all work remotely. We are distributed around the United States, Canada and Europe. We have semi-flexible working hours with some core hours in the Pacific (UTC -7/-8) time zone. It really doesn’t matter where you work from, as long as you have a great internet connection and the ability to connect to the VRChat platform. We’ve also recently launched on the Oculus Quest, which is a really handy travel-ready version of VRChat.

They are looking for a wide variety of people—Unity engineer, security engineer, customer support—but what really got my attention was a posting for a Virtual Economy Manager:

We’re looking for someone to lead the development of VRChat’s virtual economy, currency and marketplace. VRChat is a “live” platform that’s constantly updated and evolving, so you’ll see your work have an immediate impact to our massive global community of users.

At VRChat, we’ve got ideas about how we’d like to move forward with our economy, but we’re looking for someone with experience to help guide and lead the effort. As our Virtual Economy Manager, you’ll be responsible for the oversight, development, release and management of VRChat’s virtual economy, currency and marketplace. If you’re interested in creating a whole new virtual economy and help the community make a living in the VRChat universe, then this role could be right up your alley.

Among the responsibilities of the position are the following:

– Work with design and production to plan, document, design, implement and manage a virtual currency economy with user generated content
– Work with design and production to plan, document, fully design, implement and manage a marketplace for virtual goods
– Work with various teams to implement, QA and release various monetization models
– Engage with the community team and community feedback to iterate on VRChat’s economy and marketplace
– Review and design monetization-based analytics
– Provide new feature recommendations that improve monetization and retention

As you may already know, there is a booming economy already happening around VRChat, but it is all happening entirely outside the platform itself. In April 2018, I interviewed Ghoster, who runs the popular and successful VRC Traders Discord, where many people are already earning hundreds, even thousands, of dollars by designing and creating custom user avatars for other VRChat users. Here’s an invitation to join their Discord if you’re interested.

VRChat faces a somewhat tricky transition from an anything-goes, intellectual-property-flouting wild, wild west to an more orderly, legal in-world economy. Among many other things, they will have to learn how to deal with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices issued against content creators. Not to mention compliance with new U.S. financial regulations to prevent money laundering, such as the new Tilia rules in Second Life.

It will be very interesting to watch as this all plays out, and learn how in-world commerce will be built into the platform. (Let’s hope they don’t decide to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon!)

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Which Social VR Platform Has Been the Most Successful at Raising Money?

Image by Capri23auto from Pixabay

There’s been a very interesting discussion taking place today on the RyanSchultz Discord server. One of the regular contributors to the many conversations that take place there, Michael Zhang, pulled together the following information from Crunchbase:

Today I Learned: Building social VR, MMOs, and virtual worlds are a lot more expensive than I imagined!

From Crunchbase:

-High Fidelity raised $72.9 million over five rounds and is struggling with their recent pivot to enterprise.
-Rec Room raised $29 million over two rounds, $24 million only recently, so they lived off of $5 million for several years.
-Altspace raised $15.7 million over three rounds, went bankrupt and shut down, then revived when bought by Microsoft.
-Bigscreen raised $14 million over two rounds.
-TheWaveVR raised $12.5 million over three rounds.
-vTime raised $7.6 million over one round.
-VRChat raised $5.2 million over two rounds.
-JanusVR raised $1.6 million over two rounds.
-Somnium Space raised $1 million over two rounds.

In comparison:

-Epic Games raised $1.6 billion over two rounds, $1.25 billion coming after Fortnite.
-Mojang’s Minecraft launched in 2003, started making profits in 2007, earned $237.7 million in revenue by 2012, and sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. (Wikipedia)
-Roblox raised $187.5 million over seven rounds.
-Linden Lab’s Second Life raised $19 million over two rounds.

Then, another contributor named Jin put together this graph to illustrate how successful the various social VR platforms have been in raising venture capital (please click on this picture to see it in full size on Flickr, or just click here). As you can see, High Fidelity is far and away the leader in raising money!

Social VR Platforms Raising Money

(In comparison, Decentraland raised 24 million dollars in their initial coin offering. Jin also made a second chart including Decentraland, but I have not included it here because, unlike the other platforms, it does not currently support VR, and it is unlikely to do so anytime in the near future.)

Thank you to Michael Zhang and to Jin for their work!

A Wider Screen: A Mini-Documentary About VRChat

I was looking for something to watch this evening, so I did a search for “social VR” in YouTube and stumbled across A Wider Screen, a charming, quirky mini-documentary (just 13 minutes long) by Joe Hunting (a.k.a. Little Poe in VRChat). Joe describes his documentary as follows:

A Wider Screen is a short documentary film (approx. 15 minutes) about how virtual reality (VR) is affecting people’s social lives for the better. 70% of the film is shot within VRChat, a VR social platform that allows users to create their own worlds and avatars.

Among the people we meet in Joe’s documentary is Noah Robinson, whom I have profiled on this blog before.

Here is A Wider Screen on YouTube (or, if you prefer, you can watch it on Vimeo here):

The two Shiba Inu dog avatars on the video thumbnail are Floppy and Pluto, two men who are exploring what it means to have a relationship in VRChat.

Little Poe was also a guest on the long-running talk VRChat talk show Endgame (which I have also written about before):

LGBTQ Spaces in Social VR and Virtual Worlds

Photo by Tristan Billet on Unsplash

The real world can still be a unwelcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people. So perhaps it is not surprising that LGBTQ people are attracted to social VR and virtual worlds, as a way to connect with other queer people and create queer spaces. (Please note that, as a proud and out-of-the-closet gay man, I am reclaiming the formerly pejorative term queer in referring to LGBTQ people.)

Second Life

Second Life is home to dozens of LGBTQ-friendly places, including the popular Lesbian Teahouse and the five-sim Boystown Gay Community. Every year there’s a massive virtual Pride festival. There’s even a sprawling, ten-sim ancient Roman roleplay community Romanum for gay and bisexual men! You can also pay a visit the Transgender Resource Center and the Transgender Hate Crime and Suicide Memorial.

Linden Lab maintains a listing of LGBT friendly places in SL, and even a special LGBTQ landing page for visitors:

AltspaceVR

LGBTQ+ and Friends Meetup in AltspaceVR

There are two regular weekly LGBTQ+ and Friends meetups which take place in AltspaceVR:

Come join our global LGBTQ weekly meetup that offers support, encouragement, and love from all corners of the world. Join our North American meetup at: (6:00 p.m. Pacific). If you are sending your love abroad, join us at our earlier time (1:00 p.m. Pacific). We have created this safe haven where you can express yourself in a welcoming environment. We have created this space for those who have difficulty sharing their thoughts and experiences. Feel bold enough to share your stories and we will do our part to give you the encouragement you need to live the life you have always dreamed.

Here’s a link to the current events calendar in AltspaceVR, so you can find out when the next meetup is taking place.

VRChat

VRChat has an active LGBTQ community that runs its own Discord server, where you can find out about happenings and events in-world.


Have you heard of other LGBTQ-friendly spaces and events happening in other social VR platforms and virtual worlds? If you do, then please leave a comment below telling us where and what it is, thank you!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash