First Asia, now the rest of the world
It is easy to dismiss VTubers as a funny Asian phenomenon. But in doing so, you are selling it short. More and more VTubers are making their appearance in the ‘real’ world. For instance, Hatsune Miku was already a guest at David Letterman to promote her US tour. There are also specific influencer agencies that represent a whole stable of VTubers. These agencies (such as Hololive, V-Reverie and Alterly) are growing fast and are now also making the move from Asia to the United States and Europe. VTubers are no longer limited to just YouTube, but they are also making inroads on Twitch, TikTok and other social media. VTubing has grown into a full-fledged industry with tens of millions in revenue, in just a few years. To illustrate: for instance, several VTubers earn hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis from super chats (these are small donations from fans for prominent chat messages) and the VTube channels have fan merchandise for sale. It is therefore easy to imagine that soon Dutch-speaking or Swedish-speaking virtual creators will become popular.
A solution for burn outs?
The extremely popular Dutch gamer and influencer ‘Kwebbelkop’ has also been using a virtual character for some time now: Bloo. Jordi van den Bussche (Kwebbelkop’s real name) introduced early last year his virtual counterpart who can replace him so that he finally has some peace of mind. After all, it doesn’t matter who reads Bloo’s lyrics. Whoever sits behind the camera and reads out the script, the software makes sure that person looks and sounds like Bloo. In an interview with Dutch newspaper Trouw, he indicated that this could be the solution for more influencers suffering from the same problem: creator burnout. This is because the success of a channel revolves entirely around a person. If they stop uploading videos, the whole business grinds to a halt. This pressure leads to physical and mental problems for many an influencer. Virtual influencers obviously do not have this problem.