After 9 years of operation, VRChat is finally — and very carefully — rolling out its user creator economy:
First, when we say Closed Beta, we really mean it – we only intend on inviting in 10 – 20 creators at first. Up until now, we’ve been testing these systems internally, but before releasing them to the public (even in a beta format) we want to make sure that they both actually work and that creators find them easy to use. That first point can’t be stressed enough! We have to make sure that this system is solid at launch, as people will be putting their real, actual money into it.
As I”ve written before, there’s likely over 1000 VRChat creators who are earning an income from external sources like Patreon and YouTube. So this is a much-demanded feature. It also puts VRChat much more in line with being a full-fledged metaverse platform.
I’m not surprised that VRChat is only announcing this now. In my upcoming book, the founders Graham Gaylor and Jesse Joudrey told me how concerned they are about getting this feature right:
“We really want to have a creator economy – it’s absolutely one of our biggest priorities. Helping find a way for users to show creators how much they love what they’re building is absolutely crucial for us.”
Their caution is well-placed. In Second Life, the arrival of an economy where L$ could be exchanged for US$ drove enormous outside interest — but it also accelerated its shift into hyper-consumerism. Where once stood collaborative art projects were pervasive across the virtual world, shopping centers and weekend-long sales events dominate.
VRChat’s founders seem fully aware of that dynamic:
“[We’re] very cognizant of the impact an economy could have on the community. Creators would obviously be impacted pretty heavily, but so would regular users. In many ways, introducing an economy can be incredibly destabilizing. Suddenly, creators have obligations and considerations they didn’t previously have. Socially, users might feel compelled to behave entirely differently due to where they’ve spent their money.”
Much more soon!
Hat tip: Adeon!