Why thousands of users are abandoning the world’s most popular VR game

‘Don’t think I’ve seen a bigger fuck up in gaming history’

For those of you who are unfamiliar, VRChat is a social networking platform that allows you to meet and hang out with people in much the same way as you would IRL. All the content in the game is user generated, which means anything goes – as long as you can build it in the unity game engine. Ever wanted to pop into a virtual rave with a legion of furries? Or world hop into a surreal metropolis with Spongebob and a cute anime girl? VRChat’s the place.

This week, the platform has been plunged into chaos after the platform announced an update that bans all user-made modifications, which is arguably what made VRChat so great in the first place. It effectively nullifies the tools that VRChat users rely on to create avatars (one user I spoke to parades around the virtual world as an anthropomorphic pickle), as well as adds accessibility features that make the platform accessible to people with disabilities.

The update has been massive fallout among its most dedicated users, with many attempting to organize boycotts and review-bombing on Steam (on Wednesday, the “recent reviews” had fallen to “Overwhelming Negative”). Players also targeted Canny, VRChat’s official feedback platform: the most popular Canny ticket is currently “EAC in a social VR game creates more problems than it solves,” at 23.2k.

“Since the announcement yesterday, we’ve gotten a LOT of feedback from all of you regarding the incoming 2022.2.2 VRChat update that integrates Easy Anti-Cheat,” said VRChat on Tuesday (July 26) in response to the backlash. “We are reprioritising, reorganising, and changing our internal development roadmap to focus on the feedback you’ve given us.”

“We’ve been talking to VRChat communities and community leaders about the changes and additions that they want most, including speaking to communities focused on accessibility to VRChat,” it wrote. “Our first priority for these changes is addressing several accessibility concerns in VRChat.”

Among those affected by the changes is VRChat’s disabled community, who rely on mods to make the platform accessible. “VRC-CC is a mod that adds closed captions to movie worlds so deaf/HH people can watch movies with their friends,” said one Twitter user. “VRChat is killing that by banning all mods. They’ve done absolutely nothing to address serious accessibility gaps on their platform.”

Many users have pointed out the seemingly pointless choice to apply anti-cheating technology to a social community-focused platform where it’s impossible to cheat. “Don’t think I’ve seen a bigger fuck up in gaming history,” said another Twitter user. “This is a social platform with most of your player base using some sort of mod for enhancement, I use camera animations and emm flight to create videos on TikTok/YouTube, in what way is that harming your game?”

VRChat has always had a tricky relationship with mods, going as far as to ban the accounts of a number of high-profile mod developers last year. This didn’t deter people from continuing to use mods, however, as mod users directed their services largely underground to avoid moderators’ attention. As for the newest update, let’s hope that VRChat listens to the users that made the platform such a success to begin with.

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.