IMVU is an online social entertainment website founded in 2004, in which members use 3D avatars to meet new people, chat, create, and play games. IMVU has over 3 million active users and currently has the largest virtual goods catalog of more than 6 million items.
Many IMVU users are content creators, creating and selling products in the IMVU catalog. Users also devote time to customizing their individual homepages, setting up public and private rooms, and creating and participating in user Groups (similar to forums but personalized via the owner). Additionally, there are numerous user produced third-party websites providing additional forums and resources to the IMVU community.
IMVU contains its own economy with a currency system based on IMVU "credits" and "promotional credits." A third form of currency also exists for members who sell custom made items - "developer tokens," which are earned when a user purchases an item with "promo credits." Credits can be purchased online using actual currency directly from IMVU. Credits may also be purchased on IMVU gift cards available from retail outlets such as department stores. Credits can be transferred back to IMVU for real-world currency, now as the only option, after the end of the IMVU Re-seller Program. The credits are used by members to purchase virtual items like fashion pieces (hair, clothes, skins, and accessories), pets, and 3D scenes.
Promotional credits, abbreviated to "promo-credits" or "predits" are a second form of currency that is distributed to members by IMVU. With relation to a standard free or full member, promo-credits are similar to standard credits. A given number of credits equates to the same number of promo-credits. However, promo-credits cannot be used to purchase items as gifts for other members, and may not be traded back to an IMVU re-seller for actual currency. Furthermore promo-credits cheat developers out of income by netting only a single developer token per purchase when used regardless of the price of the product purchased.
IMVU allows full members to participate in a 'Content Creator Program', which offers participants software utilities for creating custom, virtual, in-client items. They may then sell their items by listing them in an online product catalog. Content creators earn credits when their items are sold and are allowed to resell the credits they earn to IMVU itself. Developer tokens only appear in the instance that a member pays a developer for a custom item, using promo-credits instead of standard credits. Once received by the content creator, promo-credits automatically translate into developer tokens. One developer token is technically worth ten credits, however, developer tokens may only be spent on developer related fees, such as the initial cost that must be paid when putting an item on sale or to buy advertising called a "Shout Out," which buys the purchaser a certain number of placements in the scrolling ads that appears on the top of all IMVU pages.
IMVU has a membership program called the "VIP Club", which gives the user multiple perks above other users including:
- Getting 5,000 Credits per month + 200 Loyalty Bonus (Increases to a maximum of 2400 Credits)
- 5% Discount in Catalog
- 10% off Badge creation
- Shop Together limit increased to 3+ from 2
- Removal of Guest_
- Exclusive VIP Badge
- VIP actions; Block of unwanted actions
- No Third-Party Ads
- Using the Creator Program (Unless grandfathered in)
- 10 Chat Rooms + 10 Groups
- Prioritized Customer Support
The VIP Club is not required in order to enjoy most of IMVU, although it does provide additional benefits if the user sees fit.
A primary focus of IMVU is the member-developed content. IMVU actively encourages the members to participate in the Content creation program. The Developer Program allows members to create and sell virtual products. Developers have access to the IMVU software IMVU Previewer used in creating and submitting new virtual products, and can sell their products by listing them in the online IMVU product catalog. A member must buy his or her name and possess enough credits for "derivation" and submission fees in order to become a content creator. IMVU uses its own proprietary Cal3D format consisted of .xcf (eXperimental Computing Facility) subformats.
Due to the fact that many products created by content users do not comply with the Terms of Service, IMVU has been known to have removed such products from the consumer's inventory and the Shop, with some users complaining that they have not been refunded for the item. Users who have purchased Access Pass are also not given the full privilege of keeping these items. As most of the consumers in the IMVU community spend real money on these products, there have been several complaints on different occasions demanding fair compensation.