VRChat Update Causes Negative Reaction, Developer Course-correction

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VRChat, one of VR’s most popular social games, released an update this week has struck a nerve with its community.

The long-running social VR application, VRChat has cultivated a large community of dedicated players since its release in 2017. And while the studio behind the project has largely made steady and welcomed improvements to the platform, this week it struck a nerve with its community.

On Tuesday the studio released the VRChat ‘Security Update’ which added new anti-cheat software to prevent users from using modified versions of VRChat.

“Malicious modified clients allow users to attack and harass others, causing a huge amount of moderation issues,” the studio explained. “Even seemingly non-malicious modifications complicate the support and development of VRChat, and make it impossible for VRChat creators to work within the expected, documented bounds of VRChat.

However, not all modified versions of VRChat are malicious; members of the app’s community say that many of them add features that make the game better, and some add accessibility options that allow users to enjoy VRChat that might not otherwise be able to. Further, some claim the anti-cheat solution being implemented (Easy Anti-cheat) will reduce the game’s performance and raises privacy concerns.

To show their disdain for the update, a vocal portion of the game’s community flocked to VRChat’s Steam store page and collectively ‘review bombed’ the title with negative reviews, reducing the app’s ‘Recent’ review score to just 18%, which Steam highlights in red as ‘Overwhelming Negative’.

Although Steam includes features designed to prevent review bombing, they don’t appear to have been triggered (though that could still happen).

In any case, the studio behind VRChat says it has heard the message from its community loud and clear.

Less than a day after the update went live, the studio updated the announcement of the VRChat ‘Security Update’ acknowledging the community’s concerns and announcing plans to pivot internal plans in order to build out some of the most-used features that were only available via modified versions of the game. However, the studio said outright that it does not plan to roll back the ‘Security Update’.

We are reprioritizing, reorganizing, and changing our internal development roadmap to focus on the feedback you’ve given us. Let’s follow that up with the hard part: we are going to be releasing this update, and we do not have plans or intent to revert or roll it back.

[…]

Addressing these concerns and feedback is our highest priority. We are changing our internal development roadmap and priorities to focus on the features and additions that you want. Currently ongoing projects are being paused, rescheduled, or re-prioritized, and resources are being re-allocated to account for this change.

In addition to the information we already had on hand, 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. We’ve also been watching and documenting constructive feedback via our typical channels like our Feedback boards, social media, and this Discord.

To what extent this announcement will appease the game’s riled community isn’t yet clear; some in the game’s community have promised to leave VRChat for other social VR platforms, leading some similar VR games, like Neos VR, to see a sudden spike in concurrent users.

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