Paid softwares are being paid for only one reason... Because they want it to be paid. Personally i think paid softwares are bloated with unnecessary features like Blog, Gallery, etc. A forum software is supposed to be a forum software and not a combination of blog, gallery, etc. Consider how wordpress is the best blog script, and it has features that only belong to a blog software. The reason why paid forum softwares include such unnecessary features is, they want to create an idea among people that they have far more features than the free alternatives. I would even choose phpBB (which i hate too) instead of choosing VB (as its bloated). And people does choose MyBB over Xenforo or others, if not there shouldn't be any MyBB forums around. That really differs with person to person. Personally i hate to join any VB or IPB forums, rather i like to join MyBB and even phpBB. And just to mention, there are several forum owners who use free forum software like MyBB and invest several hundreds (or thousands) in things like custom theme, contests, etc. For me, that shows the real dedication rather than a forum admin who buys a paid software and believes he made his forum unique with it.