(TL;DR At the bottom.)
First of all, I love both games
These are just some observations I’ve had as they’re quite similar, with both of them relying heavily on social interaction. I’d like to hear what everyone else’s thoughts are. Feel free to disagree or bring up your own points as well.
After talking on Discord with a few friends, we noted that some people might feel like VRChat’s popularity is a threat to Tower Unite’s success. Why do I think this assumption is made? They’re both social experiences with no real endgame objective, and rely heavily on the community to perpetually keep them interesting. This might lead some people to believe that they’ll be competing to become the definitive social “hangout” game; here’s why I think they won’t.
##Fundamentals and goals of each game
- VRChat and Tower Unite do not share the same fundamental goals. In short, Tower is about playing games, earning units, and customizing your experience with others, while VRChat is about showing off custom avatars, custom maps, and building your experience through communicating with others.
##The future of each game
I predict that both are going to thrive but have very different communities, because they attract different kinds of players. “The Best of Everything” was a slogan of Gmod tower, because it combined the best features of community made Garry’s Mod servers into one convenient place. There were gamemodes, the theater, the condos, and the shops. The social experience was more of an addendum as the community grew larger, and came to be embraced by the developers. Most were in early GMT for the minigames, as shown by the player counts in the gameworld servers which were usually twice that of the plaza.
VRChat has none of this to offer. I believe the most polarizing difference of all is that Tower was designed around playing games with others. There are no player homes in VRChat, barely any fun or working minigames, and no shops to buy anything because there is no currency. It’s an example where, if you ask me, too many things are left to the community. It’s at a point where there really is no “vanilla” experience, because there is little to no core of the game at all. It becomes what the community makes it.
##Virtual reality as a selling point
- With the advent of affordable VR headsets, many people have flocked to VRChat to get the most immersive social experience. There’s no doubt that playing in VR gives you a greater sense of presence and scale, and is a feature that has been requested multiple times for Tower Unite. It was even mentioned in the original Kickstarter, and was available in the (very) first builds of Tower Unite if I recall correctly. As many of you know, though, it was removed with an Unreal engine update which essentially killed it off for now. Call VR a gimmick or a marvel, it’s one of the major reasons VRChat has had any success at all; it was its only claim to fame. If it were released in desktop-only mode on steam today under a different name, it would be bringing nothing new to the table that other games haven’t already done before (and inarguably better), and likely would fade into obscurity.
##In defense of VRChat
VRChat is not a bad game. Let me make this clear. Not only is it a free experience, so you didn’t waste your money if you don’t like it, but it’s playable in desktop mode to be more accessible to anyone with a computer. On top of this, VRChat has a level of customization that few or no other social games have reached, rivaled possibly only by Second Life. This is because the entire game is in Unity, an often underestimated platform. It’s shown to be extremely powerful when used correctly, with games such as Kerbal Space Program being able to accurately simulate aerodynamics and universe-scale physics in Unity.
VRChat’s greatest strength comes from the fact that you can create very advanced avatars and maps in a relatively easy-to-learn environment. No programming knowledge needed, and with a few tutorials on Youtube, you could be rigging your own models within a couple of hours. The downside is that the skill floor for learning Unity is still more than what some people are willing or able to learn, so it’s not for absolute beginners.
It should be said that using VR with not only a headset, but with hand controllers as well is a surreal experience. To become someone or something else entirely, complete with head and hand motion brings an unprecedented level of presence and online interaction. When you talk to another player, your body language as well as your voice is sent through to them, more than just a virtual mouth moving on a character. It’s so real feeling that sometimes you might lose your sense of self, at least in my experience in longer sessions.
If there’s any takeaway from this, it’s that there are always improvements to be made in both games. Neither of them is out to replace the other. We’ll always have Tower for gamemodes and condos, and VRChat for Virtual Reality interactions and more advanced customization.
It doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other. Both Tower and VRChat excel at what they set out to do, though improvements could be made in each of them. Maybe Tower will get VR Support some day, or VRChat will have more advanced games to play, but for now, just play whatever you’d like. That’s all.
(TL;DR) Tower Unite and VRChat are not competitors since they have vastly different intentions as a game.