VRChat is an online virtual platform Created by Graham Gaylord and Jesse Jodrey in 2017. Since 2020, VRC players have tripled, reaching 42,000 players at the beginning of 2022. In the past months, several polls have been made by me on Reddit, one of the most popular social media for VRChat players, to gather opinions and use feedback. With the introduction of Avatar Dynamics systems, it’s time to analyze those data and examine what makes player interaction in VRChat significant and successful and what that means to the development of metaverse.
Feel the Touch: Physics-Based Interactions
To figure out why VRChat is in a league of its own, we need to understand what players can do in the game. With hardware like Oculus Quest 2 and Valve Index, it’s no surprise that players can present various kinds of body movements in the virtual world, all of these have already made the interaction between players way better than other metaverse experiences. In a recent update, the Avatar Dynamic systems take this to the next level, with physic bones, avatars can now react to physics realistically. Ears will react to other people’s hands; facial expressions will change when receiving head pats, etc.
I Don't Want to Quit!: Interaction with Friends
Such interaction might be interesting for the first few minutes, but it would get boring quickly if there are no reasons for players to keep playing the game. This brings us to making friends and avatar customization in VRChat. In response to the poll ’The main reason that makes you keep playing VRChat?” 35% of players consider friends as an important factor to them to keep playing VRChat and 23% of players pointed out that VRChat offers them an opportunity to escape from the real world. Surprisingly, VR interaction and other content on VRChat only come in third place, with around 20% of players voting for this option.
The Real Me: Avatars
Playing in a customized avatar can make people feel more comfortable being themselves and talking to strangers. When it comes to social interaction, around 62% of players pointed out they feel more comfortable communicating with people in VRChat than in real life, and this could be a big deal for LGBT and the deaf communities.
Due to those reasons above, most players are willing to put on their headsets to dive further into the metaverse. According to the statistics, 65-75% of VRC players are Quest standalone players, and this number still excludes VR players who choose to connect their headsets to a PC to get a better experience. As a game that can be played both on Desktop mode and VR mode, VRChat has done a great job convincing players wearing headsets is the way to go to fully enjoy the metaverse.
So, what can Meta learn from this? Sure, while NFT and cryptocurrencies could be interesting for businesses or individuals to invest their money in, to make metaverse a part of daily life for the public, giving them a good reason to stick to the virtual world is necessary. In my opinion, encouraging social interaction is the way to go.