TLDR: Many positive, recent changes have gone mostly unnoticed by the wider market due to bearish sentiment, restraint from founders and limited developer access. Disclaimer : This is not investment advice
In September 2017 I wrote about how Bitcoin social metrics were taking off or ‘hitting the knee’ of an S Curve.
Bitcoin Reddit Subscribers – http://redditmetrics.com/r/bitcoin (unreliable more recently – try Coingecko)
Twitter accounts are not the same as Reddit, but today I noticed the beginning of something similar for Decentraland’s Twitter account.
Decentraland Twitter Subscribers – Coingecko
On average, over the last few months Decentraland has added about 150-300 twitter followers a week. Last week it added 1,500. This could be related to string of partnership announcements about the the second land auction. But to those who aren’t watching closely, a number of more important things have happened recently that change the overall picture:
- Evidence of independent developers like ACL Crypto, Mike Dent and Spideymonkey building without being paid by Decentraland. Paid partnerships have much less incentive to stick around long term compared to independent developers who are sinking their own time.
- Although the Decentraland founders and advisors have a lack of VR experience, they are being mentored. Carl Fravel, a Second Life veteran explained how he has helped the founders understand the limitations and challenges of open virtual Worlds. Carl is leading and/or managing 9 different districts in Decentraland.
- General VR Market possibly starting to become popular again.
- Early market makers like DCLblogger.com did well offering liquidity with the limited marketplace feature set. Opensea are now improving the situation with auctions and offers.
- The ‘Mana Inflation uncertainty’ I worried about in my April 2018 Deep Dive has been cleared up. Total Mana has been capped via a vote.
- Zynga founder, Justin Waldron comes onboard to little fanfare. Product manager from a viral, mobile games company.
- Metaverse Ventures launches their Decentraland investment platform. DCG active on Discord and claim to be building their stake of Mana.
Add to these a few other fundamentals:
- Decentraland is the easiest to understand crypto concept (scarce land + VR).
- Minimum viable Dapp. Most of Decentraland is non-crypto based. The LAND token is essentially just a verifiably scarce, digital property claim. Just enough to hook people in.
- Hard cap on Land in Genesis city. There may be new cities in the future, but the original will likely retain a the ‘oldest crypto city’ moniker if the project does well.
- Easy to contact and get feedback from District Leaders on Discord.
- Founders not trying to hide challenges from the community – Reddit AMA
- Districts are being dissolved – shows willingness to evolve. Second Life has huge areas of unused land.
- Highest volume NFT in total dollar terms. – nonfungible.com
- Partnerships with other NFT projects create ‘platform’ mentality. Decentraland potentially becoming a ‘demo’ area for blockchain games like Chainbreakers. Chainbreakers also raised finance via the MANA token which is further evidence of a platform emerging.
- Privacy, interoperability & payments memes are from the last cycle. Decentraland Meme is ‘Second life 2.0, with more user rights’. Yet to emerge, but possible.
- Mana USD value has held up well in bear market. Has declined less than most other pre-2018 coins in % dollar terms as of today. Mana owners unwilling to sell. If this persists, it serves as marketing in itself. Mana hodlers of last resort exist. https://messari.io/onchainfx
- Buzzing discord with 8000+ members.
- Focus on low poly count will allow anyone to get involved. May initially be dismissed as too low, but user engagement is the key metric to watch.
- Lack of regulation in credit for digital land, skins, battles etc. Crypto VR is a new frontier that allows for rapid experimentation. Avoids the security token regulatory issue. This of course has its dangers.
- Metamask is improving making it easier to get involved. Coinbase support for Mana recently along with its founder Brian Armstrong’s enthusiasm for virtual reality crypto use cases.
- Animoca, who has partnered with Decentraland, has now teamed up with Atari to build blockchain games. A coincidence? Or the first big brand getting involved.
- Ethereum’s future is still highly uncertain. From my last 10 interviews, I get the sense that it has the best NFT tools, but transitioning to Proof of Stake and Sharding is very high risk and constantly being delayed. My guess is that it will either not happen, or a Proof of work version of Ethereum will fork off when it does. If the tools for L2 Bitcoin assets improve, maybe LAND and MANA could be transferred to it. I have at least suggested this to the founders.
- Decentralisation is slow and difficult for coordination. Founders already accused of being too interventionist and not interventionist enough on Reddit and Discord. (arguably a good sign).
- Second Life suffered from controversial content and DDos attacks. Its not clear how Decentraland will deal with this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Second_Life
- Limited Updates on in-world building. So far the best demos have come from independent developers. This reluctance may be a positive sign of patience and a tendency towards under promising pre launch.
- More centralised competitors already live and growing – Orbus VR, High Fidelity, Sansar. Second Life still has many DAU’s. Decentraland’s low resolution environment could be seen as ‘too dated’ vs faster, higher resolution VR worlds.
- Bear market could wipe out wider retail interest in anything crypto related for years.
Since my first article on Bitcoin in December 2016, I’m yet to find another crypto project that has interested me as much as Decentraland. Startups are high risk and Decentraland is no different, but this post is just highlighting mostly positive information that is off the radar even for most people in the ‘crypto space’. Whether it leads to growth in the value of LAND and/or MANA remains to be seen. Either way I’m looking forward to exploring the city when it launches next year.
Thanks to Mat from DCLBlogger.com for the feedback. Comments and corrections welcome.