This category is for all the new cryptocurrency- and blockchain-based social VR spaces and virtual worlds (Decentraland, The Deep, Ethernia, Mark Space, Somnium Space, Staramba Spaces, Terra Virtua, VIBEHub, Virtual Universe, etc.)
In my email today, I received an invitation to be one of the early beta testers of MATERIA.ONE, in exchange for filling out and signing a non-disclosure agreement, which I did.
If accepted, I will receive a Steam key to access the technical closed beta demo before the end of the month. I’m actually very surprised I was even asked, since I am not an investor in Staramba or an owner of any Staramba tokens, their in-world cryptocurrency. And, as any regular reader of my blog knows, I have been casting a rather skeptical eye at this project so far.
On this blog, I have often been highly critical (even downright sarcastic) about the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland. I still think that their real estate is vastly overpriced, but I do have to say, of all the blockchain-based virtual world products out there, Decentraland seems to be the closest to actual fruition—and, on top of that, they’re doing some interesting things!
Also, Decentraland is actively surveying its userbase on a number of issues through their community polling tool Agora, including increasing the size of LAND parcels from 10 m by 10 m (100 square metres) to 16 m by 16 m (256 square metres). It looks like this change will be approved by an overwhelming margin. It’s refreshing to see a virtual world which is so willing to consider making adjustments to benefit its users (especially before the actual product launch).
Finally, Decentraland has announced that a drag-and-drop scene building tool will be available this spring. In order to promote it, they are holding a contest:
In the last Project Update, we shared that we’re working on the new and easy-to-use Builder. Our vision for Builder is to provide a way for all users, regardless of their technical backgrounds, to create immersive content to host on their LAND. In anticipation of the new scene builder (and to celebrate its upcoming launch), we are excited to introduce Decentraland’s Creator Contest! Our goal is to encourage and reward creative scenes put together by community members using the scene builder. … After the Builder is launched, the Creator Contest will officially begin – giving you two weeks to put your imagination to use in putting together your most immersive and beautiful (or bizarre) scenes. … Every single scene that is submitted through the Creator Contest will be rewarded with 100 MANA, even if it isn’t selected by the judge panel as one of the finalists. The most creative scenes will be hand-picked by a panel of five expert judges. A total of 50 scenes will be deployed, and featured within Genesis City. From those 50 scenes, five will be selected as finalists and their creators will receive some premium LAND and a purse of MANA. The remaining 45 featured parcels will also be rewarded with LAND and additional MANA!
At the current exchange rates, 100 MANA works out to about US$3.50, so while it’s not a lot of money, many people may enter this contest just to get a starter purse of in-game currency. It’s great marketing!
As time goes on, and I see just how dedicated the Decentraland team is to their vision of a decentralized, blockchain-based virtual world, my initial cynicism is starting to wane. Not completely, mind you. But it is fascinating to watch as the project evolves over time. Hopefully, sometime this year, I will get an opportunity to walk around in-world!
However, a member of the Mark Space team posted the following table to their Telegram channel, comparing their product with other blockchain-based virtual worlds, which I did find of interest:
While I am already familiar with Decentraland, I’ve never or barely heard of some of these other projects before:
Metaverse (now there’s a poorly-chosen name!)
You know what that means, don’t you? It’s time for me to go do some investigating and exploring again! I’ll report back on what I find, and just how accurate this chart is.
I leave you with this vague and mystifying promotional video for Mark Space, which makes me wonder what exactly the company is spending their money on—an actual virtual world, or slick advertising to bring in more investors? This sort of thing raises all kinds of red flags for me.
Or, if you really want to see something trippy that pretty much has absolutely nothing to do with the actual product, check out this promotional video for Cappasity!
The level of insanity in this market is breathtaking.