VRChat, the social chatroom for VR and non-VR users, is doing booming business. According to SteamSpy, the app has seen a mind-boggling 1 million fresh installs in only the last 10 days, putting it currently at 2 million installs in total.

Update (01/19/18): SteamSpy reports now that ‘VRChat’ has over 2 million installs. Concurrent users have cooled down somewhat, although we’ll have to see what the weekend brings. SteamSpy reports yesterday’s high at about 11,000 peak concurrents, a surprisingly low .05% of the overall install base.

Original article (01/15/18): According to Valve’s Steam reportVRChat garnered 20,000 peak concurrent users on January 14th, putting it in the top 30 games with highest concurrent user rates. The next day, a Monday morning, over 13,000 people were playing VRChat concurrently.

While neither SteamSpy nor Valve offer enough granularity to know whether the bulk of the players are indeed wearing VR headsets, or simply playing via PC monitor, one thing is certain: VRChat is a ‘VR first’ social space, and entering the app to see a room full of gesticulating avatars (enabled by VR motion controllers) is bound to tease PC players’ curiosity at what playing in VR headset is really like.

As for its meteoric rise in popularity, there’s little room for speculation as to the cause. While the app is free, and works equally on traditional monitors and PC VR headsets, VRChat owes much of its recent viral success thanks to coverage by YouTubers like PewDiePievideogamedunkey, and Jameskii, not to mention a host of Twitch streamers. The app’s ‘anything goes’ user-generated content system, which lets you import your own self-made avatar replete with animation macros, has also produced plenty of meme magic since its launch on Steam – no doubt drawing more curious would-be users to the social VR platform.

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We’ll be going deeper into the app’s unique meme culture in a future article. For a taste of some of the freestyle chaos that’s attracting users to VRChat, take a look at one of the strangest and most popular living memes currently: ‘Ugandan Knuckles‘ (warning: NSFW language). The video, created by VRChat regular Stahlsby just before Christmas, has over 8.8 million views and rising.

Because of its quick rise in popularity and consequent influx of new users, the developers recently released an open letter to the VRChat community in effort to reign in some of the less appealing behavior of its users.

In the open letter, the creators say they regularly combat ‘bad’ behavior with a trained moderation team “that monitors VRChat constantly.” While the developers plan on releasing more troll-nullifying systems, they suggest using the app’s mute/block functions or setting up private instances of rooms to inoculate yourself from trolls. According to VRChat, ‘bad’ behavior entails the standard no-nos like hateful speech, overtly sexual content, illegal activities, etc, but also includes seemingly innocuous things like talking publicly talking about politics or religion, or organizing a protest. Here’s the full list.

While the team are likely devising some sort of auto-moderation tool to scale to the massive number of users, for now they suggest reporting users on their Moderation Report Form. We’ll be watching VRChat as it continues to pioneer in the social VR space, but just hope some of the physical world’s hard-won civil liberties aren’t erased simply because they’re inherently messy to deal with.

Update (1/18/18): The word ‘user’ was mistakenly used in place of ‘owners/installs’ in the first paragraph, making it sound as if the app had garnered millions of regular users. While the app has seen more than 1 million installs, actual usership is of course only a fraction of that, as the concurrent user numbers show.

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  • VRChat is getting crazy… in every sense: lots of customers but also a lot of crazy users inside

  • Lucidfeuer

    Okay, I have to install this app.

  • RavnosCC

    “…but just hope some of the physical world’s hard-won civil liberties aren’t erased simply because they’re inherently messy to deal with.”

    Agreed, let’s hope the most compelling videos are not just a bunch of childish ******* running around violating women’s avatars, “for fun”.

    • Aiden Lautt

      we do not violate the queen

    • RockstarRepublic

      How do you know they are women? Are you assuming their gender? See what I did there?

      Fun is subjective.

      • RavnosCC

        Would you have preferred I said “female avatars” ? And you are absolutely right, what does it matter what gender the avatar is, hopefully the most compelling videos are not just a bunch of childish ******* running around sexually violating any gender’s avatars.

        Does it change the point?

        • RockstarRepublic

          It changes nothing, you are making assumptions. You cannot logically claim violation either. Stop trying to control the behavior of people controlling objects on a screen, at the end of the day its only pixels.

          • daveinpublic

            It’s not only pixels.

          • Naomi

            It’s pixels. If you are triggered by a man fondling your 3d anime avatar, you need to re-evaluate your look on life and grow a sack.

          • WyrdestGeek

            Kind of breaks the personal body illusion though, right?

            I mean — if it *was* your real body, then for someone to touch it without permission would be assault.

            If imaginary VR folks are allowed to do whatever they want to your VR avatar consequence free, then I can’t imagine you’ll be able to convince people to *want* to hang out there.

            But you go ahead and keep on advocating for an imaginary world with all the ethics of Westworld. See how that works out for you and yours.

            Violent delights have violent ends.

          • Naomi

            You may want to rebuke without resorting to axioms, TV show references, and a straw-man. The purpose of a virtual simulation is to do exactly what you can’t in real life. You don’t want the laws and the restrictions of real life. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you can’t handle a pure fun hectic world or are a millennial that gets triggered by words on a screen, maybe you shouldn’t be invited into it.

          • WyrdestGeek

            Kind of like hunting, it’s only fun for the one with the gun.

            And, though I too look to create worlds that are consequence-free, where a person can do whatever they want–
            The simple fact is: if the fake-person you’re doing stuff *to* has an actual consciousness, then the actions you take will not ever actually be free from consequence. It’s as impossible as a perpetual motion machine.

          • WyrdestGeek

            But why am I wasting my time arguing murky philosophical ethics?

            “Online harassment” is already a /thing/ legally speaking– so all of this is already covered it’s just now there are also avatars.

  • joeyoungblood

    This could definitely be the watershed moment VR has needed, but it might also be mired down by bad behavior and legal issues making it a footnote. http://winnerwinnerchickendinner.co/blog/vrchat-really-weird-strange-watershed-moment-virtual-reality-needed/

    • Leslie

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  • NooYawker

    I say let everyone do as they please but everyone has the ability to mute and block out anyone they want. It’s digital, if you block someone it’s like they’re not there.

    • Laurence Nairne

      That’s a fine sentiment for grown adults, but younger people are generally more impressionable and willing to listen to bullshit/radical ideals.

      • NooYawker

        You’re right.

      • gothicvillas

        Maybe VR chat should be 18+instead? Rather than applying the same “safe space” rules as our current real world is already poisoned with it.

        • Mr Burke

          no

        • Mr Burke

          Then you be killing the whole game

    • Da Mo (JFlash)

      You completely wrong unless this was advertised as an porn chat room then i shouldn’t be used as one, go look at the blunty YT videos, there’s people pretending to be children offering BJ’s

      • NooYawker

        Wow. I take it back. Sometimes I forget how sick people can be.

      • Naomi

        Oh no think of the imaginary children! Piss off JFlash.

        • Da Mo (JFlash)

          They lock people up in my country for imaging that sort of stuff, you pedo.

          • Naomi

            Maybe you should move out of your shitty third world country and save yourself from wrongthink.

    • Gus Bisbal

      I think a reputation system would work well. Say if 10 people have blocked you in a week then your banned for a month. That means that its the number of people you have pissed off is the metric to follow. So your collective behaviour over time is determines whether you can play.

      • Mr Burke

        sounds like a lot of false bans to me

        • Gus Bisbal

          Why?

      • PK

        the problem with this is that cliques will coordinate to have anyone that annoys them banned. i don’t know of a good way yet to effectively enforce any sort of morality. what i assume will happen is people of a like mind will carve out their own spaces inside of vrchat, and some of those spaces will be more welcoming than others.

      • Laurence Nairne

        I think this could work if the ban was from user generated rooms as opposed to VRChat as a whole, and then a second whole application ban existed if, as a user you’d been banned from a significant number of rooms in a reasonable amount of time.

      • nargul

        It’s like you never watched the VRchat videos. People get organized. Deputizing groups of players is community suicide.

  • VRChat is one of those evolving, cutting edge, VR applications featuring worlds within worlds within worlds… been using it since the Oculus DK2 days! It’s a lot of fun VR experiences for free and a fine community of people overall. I was looking at VRChat’s guidelines and would compare them to the generally accepted decorum one expects in most public venues in real life. The admins are doing an excellent job given the thousands of people now enjoying it.

    • sandman11

      Do they allow custom servers with their own rules? For example if someone wants to make a racist server, can they?

      • As far as I am aware no recording or monitoring of conversations is in place in private worlds. I think respecting the guidelines is a qualifying point when submitting or updating access to open your worlds to the general public. It easy to understand how VRChat wants to foster an atmosphere that’s welcoming to all nationalities and races since it is, after all, a globally accessible application. It is also open to anyone from 13 yrs and up, so that suggests an attempt to ensure it remains ‘family friendly’. Each creator of a world probably appreciates that people respect these general guidelines while visiting so their worlds remain inviting so as to increase visitation as much as possible.

        • sandman11

          Ah thanks for the explanation. It is just fascinating to think of the possibilities this type of technology brings to the table. I think we’ll see “no go” games/tech where everything is based in chaos with no rules. And then you’ll have the more organized and rule based games/tech. I definitely would not to spend all my time in a 4chan-universe, but it would be fun to visit.

          It reminds me of a story I read about a Minecraft map/server which has never been wiped and goes on forever with no moderation. You spawn and just pick a direction and run. Most of it is in runes and you will find all sorts of bizarre and extreme creations.

          Always sounded fascinating to me. Give man anonymity and complete freedom; what will be achieved or more likely destroyed?

          • loved this. it’s so interesting to think about! especially the idea that a competitor vr chat style apps may come about where there are little to no rules or moderation. do you think this would take an entirely new app to bring something like that about or do you think vr chat would introduce an option like that?

          • Laurence Nairne

            I think there are going to be severe regulations governed by the stores that you’d access this content in eventually (if not already) so creating something with the intention of it being the VR Wild West is unlikely.

            That doesn’t mean there won’t be leeway to freely express oneself – for good or ill – but the loopholes will be increasingly closed off as these types of applications mature.

          • Lord of the Flies is an interesting study in how ‘complete freedom’ tests our values and civility towards each other. Complete freedom can come with a willingness to be personally self-governing in a responsible way. This can be learned; How is the world treating you? Probably very close to the way you treat your world.

  • Rayza

    do u know da wae?

    • dk

      memes is de way
      …..every vr application needs a meme

  • Sources

    what is da wey? is it da W key?

  • MagZu

    most of the VRchat players doesnt have a VR headset tho. most ot the time there are 1-2 VR players in a popular room/world.
    But! I keep hearing people say they want to get a VR headset cause of vrchat so that is really great!

  • B mill

    I don’t understand the fascination with VRchat.

  • Jack Liddon

    Everything that is wrong with the internet, now in VR! Yay…

    • yag

      Memes and chatting are wrong ?

      • Jack Liddon

        Memes and chatting are great. Annoying people driving a bad joke into the ground and being in your face the whole time is not cool. But, oversimplify my original comment if you must.

        • yag

          Fair enough. Fortunately VRChat offers different ways to get rid of trolls (private rooms being the most radical).

  • DaKangaroo

    This is what VR needed.

    VRChat has become a fun platform for people to be silly, and basically live out 3D virtual ‘meme-ness’, and that’s a great thing, because that is a huge part of internet culture, especially for younger people who are arguable the best target market for VR.

    The funny videos alone coming out of silly stuff like Uganda Knuckles may seem dumb but they’re getting MILLIONS of views online, that’s a kind of organic advertising most companies just can’t buy. You just gotta scroll to the comments and see the number of people saying ‘Wow I didn’t have any interest in VR before but I’ve gotta try this VRChat! It looks so fun!’.

    This will put a VR focused application on a bunch of computers, that helps promote VR, that helps sell headsets, which grows the VR market. Anyone online in VRChat, even while not using a VR headset will see VR headset users, watch them doing silly or fun things and think ‘oh cool I would love to do that too’ and it will make them want a VR headset.

    FINALLY! After years of VR software and hardware makers trying to spark something, it seems something organic and self-spreading has emerged out of VR, this is great news!

    • yag

      Finally VR has its killer-app.

  • I like that they *HAVE* to point out to people that talking about Religion and Politics is RUDE. Who raises kids these days?

    • WyrdestGeek

      “Who raises kids these days?”

      That might have been rhetorical, but I think it’s worth addressing:
      As near as I can tell, anecdotally, it seems the answer more and more often is: THE INTERNET.

      I.e. Youtube, Twitch, other social media and, I guess, this VR Chat thing.

      Because what happens a lot is: for a long time, the TV set acted as a default baby sitter. Except now the TV set is usually a tablet or some other potentially interactive device.

      So– yeah. A whole lotta young people looking up to the likes of Logan Paul as role models. #scary. #WhatHaveWeWrought?


      Furry cows moo and decompress.

  • oompah

    VR is shabby
    cartooney
    whats required is ray traced realistic bodies

  • brubble

    Sounds like it’ll be a short lived novelty, but I havent adopted VR yet either, I just dont get it.