VRChat Finally Adds Monetization Option for UGC — Here's What Three Top Content Creators Think of It

VRChat finally launched official monetization last week right before the Thanksgiving holiday, so it's likely most metaverse folks in the US missed this long-awaited, much-considered feature. (It was announced last May.)  Here's the basic gist:

Paid Subscriptions allow everyone in VRChat to directly support the creators they love with dramatically less friction. At the same time, Paid Subscriptions also empower creators to build far more interesting creations with their supporters in mind. Creators can now easily create VIP rooms in their instances that only their subscribers can access. Or maybe they could have a special car or jet that is only available if you’re a supporter. Or maybe supporters get a special icon above their head in their instances. Or, for event runners, priority or exclusive access to your events!

How Do Paid Subscriptions Work?

All VRChat players can now purchase VRChat Credits with real-life money. You can spend these on certain perks that creators set via Groups. Generally, you’ll go to a creator’s Group page, click the “Store” button, and then be presented with a list of things you can purchase. These individual perks are known as Paid Subscriptions! You can purchase one for a certain amount of time: say a month, three months, a year. These are currently not recurring – but will be in the future!

Notable for NWN readers, the payment processing is provided by Linden Lab spinoff company Tilia. So Second Life and VRChat now share the same payment back-end.

Even more notable, the VRChat creators only take 50% of revenue from these paid subscriptions, with 30% going to the platform (Steam, etc.) and VRChat the actual company taking just 20%.

As I've written before, there's well over 1000 VRChat creators already monetizing on other third party platforms (YouTube, Patreon, etc.) , so the question is whether they'll also add this official payment channel.

So I asked some of them! Here's takes from three top VRChat creators, which roughly fall into the Good or Mixed category:

Reimajo, creator of the amazing rollercoaster sim in VRChat (MIXED):

Excellent, my experience with the Creator Economy is much better than I expected. And keep in mind that this experience so far is only from a few players who participated in the open beta (which also has a very limited feature set right now), so the actual release can only get better.

I always struggled to integrate Patreon into our world properly and it was also unclear to me what is allowed in terms of monetization, so I only had a Patreon board in our world which showed all my supporters. When I added this Patreon board to our other VRChat world, I only gained two more Patreon subscribers and one of them was a good friend of mine. Now I added the Creator Economy to our world and I already got 25 sales during the first week that the open beta is running, which is probably close to the active daily users that this world has.

Apparently, there are quite a lot of people who enjoy hanging out in this world every day and made it their home, so they are more than willing to support the ongoing development of it if they get a reward and if the payment can be made in VRChat itself. So I learned that there are quite a few people willing to pay for silly features that make them stand out if they can buy it quickly in-game, but just being on a Patreon board won’t motivate most people to open an external website and create another account there just to throw a dollar in your direction. 

Lazkuza, co-creator of many VRChat experiences like this one (MEH):

Good but its not exactly new to VRC's community. People have been supporting creators through sites like Patreon, Ko-Fi etc. So having a more direct method built into the game will be useful to users who don't use those sites. Less friction to support someone you like since you can open the menu in-game and subscribe. For a creator it makes world integration easier and this will improve over time as VRChat adds more and more features.

This won't replace Patreon or external sources and people who already used those sites will choose to use those exclusively, because it gives a higher share to creators. Doing it through VRChat in comparison gives a creator less but this is a platform limitation since Steam/Oculus take 30% cut. But it may bring in new supporters who couldn't use sites like Patreon due to where they live or due to preferences.

And its ultimately up to the community to decide what is good and bad with their wallet too. Support people that respect you as a customer, its not a new concept to VRChat since people have been earning money through it for years now.

Raergur, creator of this amazing machinima tribute to VRChat (watch above) is also MIXED:

I think overall it's going to be a good thing… I do hear that some people are concerned about the subscription model causing worlds to become "pay to win" so to speak. Or like a gated community. Which may happen to some popular game worlds. But I don't think it will be as big of an issue and some make it out to be.

Let's say a creator is being predatory with their pricing for a game world they made, if people don't feel like they are getting their money's worth, they're not going to pay for it. And that failure will just drive traffic away from that predatory priced world to other creators. Which I think will weed out alot of these issues.

I mean if nobody wants to pay for your product you are either going to have to change your model, or you are going to go out of buisness haha.

My only concern is what kind of profit cut percentage VRChat and Steam will take. If it's too high, creators may just continue to opt for support on other platforms like patreon. But hopefully they will strike a good balance that people think is fair. But yeah overall I see this as a huge positive turning point for VRChat and hope it works out well.

Regarding the 30% platform cut, Reimajo makes a good point about the VAT tax the EU citizens typically have to pay:

"Even when comparing it to Patreon, it should be noted that Patreon adds VAT to the sale (e.g. 20%) which you need to take into account before comparing the two options, because VAT is already included when buying VRChats currency on Steam. So on Patreon with an 8% share, you only get 72% and not the 92% that most people assume they would get from what the customers pay. So it’s more like 72% on Patreon vs. 50% on VRChat. As I already said, I get much more customers on VRChat, so even with a smaller share it makes more sense to me to sell there."

So for VRChat creators, I guess this generally depends on how much revenue they're already making via Patreon — and whether they're based in the EU. I'm really curious to see how many VRChat players get an official VRC subscription to support their favorite creator.

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