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I develop for IMVU, but exactly what is IMVU?

When I first meet someone the conversation usually veers to the topic of “what do you do for a living?” and I say I create 3D content for an online video game and then they look super impressed as if I worked on Skyrim or something. If I tell them that I develop for IMVU I am often met with blank stares. I ask them if they know what Second Life is and am usually left with more blank stares. I then go down the line of World of Warcraft to the Sims and even Farmville if I have to until I finally see that little lightbulb go off above their heads. Most people my age have never heard of it. The average user is in their late teens to early 20s. The average developer, on the other hand, is in the 30s to 40s range.

First of all, IMVU is not a video game. It’s a 3D virtual social network and chat program. Games have goals, tasks, and accomplishments, but IMVU is more of an online dress up doll (avatar) that you can then take to visit other people’s dolls and have them interact with each other via hugs, dances, high-fives, or pretty much anything you can think of. But unlike Second Life or any free roaming game, IMVU is node based, meaning you can’t walk anywhere, only point and click on designated nodes and your avatar will be transported there.

According to IMVU’s website “IMVU, the #1 avatar-based social experience welcomes users to join a community where anything is possible, including connecting with people from all over the world. It's here that the fun is infinite and reality is limitless. The IMVU Virtual Shop is the largest of its kind, with an inventory of more than 20 million user-generated, VR-ready goods and growing every day. From collections that include the hottest trends and throwback sneakers to fairy wings and couture gowns, the marketplace allows our users to personalize, customize, stylize, and animate their 3D avatars and environments to their hearts' content. As the leader in animated emoji technology, IMVU users enjoy infinite expression in conversation with friends via 3D Stickers, a new way to animate their avatars to express deeper levels of emotion. With over three million unique users every month, our platform is poised for future growth and available on desktop, tablet and mobile devices.”

IMVU stands for Instant Messenger Virtual Universe and was first introduced in 2004. I joined IMVU back in 2006 so I have been with them since almost the beginning and I have seen many of its ups and downs and some of its ideas come and go. Seriously, I didn’t know who Katy Perry was until she was featured on IMVU. Perhaps that helped her career out a bit, but I’m not sure.

At the making of this video, IMVU’s catalog has about 25 million items available for purchase and about 40 million products uploaded. Every single day, thousands of products are uploaded and thousands are removed, banned, or hidden. IMVU has a user based review system for uploaded content called peer review. Their content policy allows for adult orientated items, but only if they are marked as such, otherwise the developer risks having that product removed.

Let’s talk about IMVU’s currency, the Credit. IMVU is free to use and they do give you some starter credits called promo credits, or predits, as they are sometimes called, as well as ways to earn more. You can use them to customize your avatar with clothes, shoes, or hairstyles, as well as furniture and other accessories to customize your space, but if you want to buy a gift for a friend, you’ll have to dish out a credit card and buy some actual credits. Credits are the life blood of IMVU. They are the reason content creators actually create content.

Speaking of creating content, how do developers make money? Well unlike some platforms, you gotta spend a little bit of money to make money, but unless you put the time and effort and have a little bit of talent, it may not pay off.

To become a content creator, you must first purchase your name. When you initially sign up, you have a guest tag on your name. Purchasing your name removes this. After you have done this, you need to go to the creator program tab and sign up to become a creator. The education center has a wealth of knowledge on how to get started after that. You will need to also have a few credits on hand in order to submit your first product as there is a submission fee. Once someone purchases your product, you will earn the amount of credits you set as a mark-up for your product or the equivalent cash value depending on how you have your earnings distribution set up. Cash earnings is 40% of credit earnings so 1000 credits is equal to $1.00 which means you only earn $.40 for every 1000 credits you earn. This is because users rarely spend full price on their credits as IMVU often has sales on their credits.

What is the submission fee you may ask? All of the products in the catalog are derived off of other products and when a product is purchased from the catalog, everyone in the derive chain earns a cut. This is also true when submitting a product to be included in the catalog. For example let’s say you found a cool green mushroom chair in the catalog but want it in purple instead. You derive off of the mushroom chair and change the texture file to reflect the color you want it, then submit it to the market place to be sold in your catalog. IMVU always gets their cut for the submission, then the person who designed the mushroom chair will get their mark-up, then whatever you set as your mark-up will be the final cost of that purple mushroom chair. The green mushroom chair in the catalog remains the same, you just added a new product to the catalog that is now a purple mushroom chair and every time someone purchases that purple mushroom chair, everyone in the chain gets their credits. This is why it pays off to learn how to 3D model. You built that mushroom chair but everyone wants it their own color and you still get your cut.

What I like about IMVU is how diverse it is. I have met people from all over the world and from all age groups. I have actually met some of them in person and have become very good friends with them. Some of them design their avatar to look just like them and some of them are very different from their avatar and that is OK. You are allowed to be whoever you want to be on IMVU. That is what it is for, expressing yourself without judgement. I have even witnessed love and marriage on IMVU. When you meet someone, you get to know who they are well before you know what they look like and I think that brings about a better relationship. I will always cherish these friendships even though we live half a world away and may never actually meet.

Well, I hope you have a better understanding on what IMVU is and what I do there. I also hope you check it out yourself and maybe give developing a try. I find it to be an amazing creative outlet that is also financially rewarding. I do plan on making a future video that includes tips on how to make decent money on IMVU so please stick around for that. Perhaps you should subscribe to my YouTube channel too! Cheers!

 

 

References:

http://www.imvu.com/creators/

http://creator.imvu.com/

http://www.imvu.com/about/

http://www.imvu.com/about/faq.php

 

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