Commentary: VTuber Graduations Will Continue, But the Industry Shall Move Forward

"With so much negativity happening as well in online spaces, many VTubers are getting tired of this cycle and wanted to move on peacefully."

There has been a recent wave of graduations within the VTuber community, a large chunk of those being from the diverse indie VTubing community. And for some fans, many are alarmed to these new VTuber graduation waves. But in reality, they will be much more common.

In fact, VTuber NewsDrop previously recorded a similar wave happening around October last year, and I had this excerpt to say back then:

As the world is slowly reopening up and people going back to their normal lives, some of the VTubers we know who entered the community as a way of passion and hobby, are now retiring to return to the real world. Others are finding the online avenue they had as a new channel to regain customers for their digital services.
The question is: are we seeing more of this? The answer: Yes. But that doesn’t mean the VTubing community is coming to a halt. More and more VTubers are announcing debuts, agencies rolling out auditions, and despite the saturated market, VTubing goes on. After all, VTubers ain’t over, to be honest.

To expand on this, the VTuber graduations will continue to happen over the upcoming months and years, with many VTubers now going back to more real-life commitments, or moving into other digital-related ventures.

But aside from these, it is worth noting that fan viewership trends have also changed, with a greater favor nowadays to short-form content such as YouTube Shorts and TikTok.

The reason why VTubing had its "boom" during 2020 was because digital video viewership saw a significant jump that year. Data from Statista (paywalled) notes that in 2020, there were over three billion internet users of any age who watched streaming or downloaded video via any device at least once per month.

With the large chunk of the global population being stuck in lockdown, video streaming became one of those channels we stuck with. In fact, a 2020 report from YouTube Trends back then note that VTuber views on the platform grew to over 1.5 billion views per month by October 2020.

Despite the huge popularity of long-form content, short-form content is quickly taking over, with HubSpot noting that such content will continuously grow this year (report can be accessed upon signup).

This return signals a return to VTubing's original roots, which focused more on highlight videos instead of livestreaming. While the industry has livestreaming deeply embedded into its own fan culture, it's worth noting that if VTubers will not diversify their type of content being put out, growth can be slow for these VTubers.

Unfortunately, for the most part, a lot of indies especially those who are just starting out, don't have enough time and resources to do these types of content diversification in order to amplify their online presence. For some, VTubing is not a job: it's more of an outlet from their stressful daytime jobs and activities.

If anything, the new wave of VTuber graduations teaches us about the harsh reality of online retention. With so much negativity happening as well in online spaces, many VTubers are also getting tired of this cycle and also wanted to move on peacefully.

Some are saying that VTubing as an industry is seeing its sunset following these graduation waves, but in reality, the industry is growing at a constant rate, albeit not as fast or slow to begin with.

While debuts are happening left and right, the question remains for agencies and brands to consider how they will retain their fanbases in the longer run.

  • Will their talents have enough charisma to please the audiences?
  • Does the agency or brand have enough resources to monetize these experiences and provide unparalled support for their talents?
  • Will new experiences and innovation continue to be released over time that will enhance the VTubing experience?

For now, one thing is certain: VTuber waves will come and go, but the industry—including the innovation and experiences being built—are not going away soon.

Featured Image: Aozora Kurumi art by Mikawolf