Mossland: A Brief Introduction

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Look, I’m going to just come right out and say it. Mossland is another one of those blockchain-based virtual reality/augmented reality projects that makes you scratch your head and go, huh?

The concept behind Mossland is simple enough: users bid on virtual versions of real-world properties (this is very similar to another “augmented reality” game I had profiled earlier, called Worldopoly):

What is Mossland: The City?

  • Mossland: The City is a location based Mobile Augmented Reality (AR) game that will launch on the 4th quarter of 2019. In this game players can view the actual buildings around you and purchase the virtual real-estate online. By using the blockchain based cryptocurrency, Moss Coin, you can safely purchase and trade in game real-estate and augment the buildings with various AR accessories. Users can enjoy the game while trading and interacting with other players.

What is the Mossland: The Auction?

  • ‘Property’ are all the buildings that can traded in ‘Mossland: The City.’ ‘Mossland: The Auction’ is a service provided for players to start bidding on unique landmark properties that will be traded in the game before anyone else.
  • Starting the opening of October 12th, each Friday five landmark properties will be released in the auction. Everyone who has an account for the Mossland: The Auction can participate in the auction, and the landmark is given to the user with the highest bid.

Do not be disappointed for not winning the bid, the participants receive incentives for just participating in the auction!

  • The winning bidder receives 80% of the Moss Coin that was used for the final bid and the remaining 20% is given to the other participants in the auction.
  • The user who is the owner of the property can auction out the Landmark to other users through a new auction on the open market.

Why participate in Mossland: The Auction?

  • Mossland: The City provides an opportunity for anyone in the world to own a virtual building. Users can be an owner of a virtual real-estate after completing tasks and missions. This can be a famous building in your area, your school, your workplace, even a cafe that you often go to.
  • You can become a forerunner of the virtual property that has actual value. Applying Augmented Reality(AR) advertisements to your buildings can generate additional values.
  • It would be much more difficult for users to own unique landmarks after Mossland: The City launches and is provided to more users. Mossland: The Auction provides a one and only opportunity for the potential users of the game to monopolize in owning the exclusive landmarks.
  • There are no limits and predictions on how high your property’s price might rise. You can expect a huge increase in your pre-acquired landmark property when Mossland: The City has an explosive number of users.
  • Due to the nature of any auctioning system, there will always be a chance where a good landmark can be bought at a low price. Constantly checking the prices of the landmarks and checking out the auction pages will be an exciting experience.

I have to chuckle about the bit where they talk about “an explosive number of users”. But my serious question is (and this is a question I ask about many of these blockchain-based projects): why would anybody want to do this?!?? 

Amazingly, over the past three months, 170,000 bids were placed on 258 properties in 30 auctions:

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The most expensive property to date is Seoul City Hall (which is not terribly surprising; Mossland is run by a South Korean company called Reality Reflection). The winning bid was 1,253,500 MOC (their in-game cryptocurrency), which works out to almost US$45,000, according to this online currency exchange calculator:

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Why would anybody want to pay 45,000 dollars for the rights to a virtual property that you can’t even visit yet, and won’t be able to for at least another year? 

Now, to cover their asses, the company does include this legal statement:

Notice: Mossland’s Moss Coin (MOC) is an in-game currency; it has no inherent value and should not be purchased for purposes of speculation, investment or profit.

As if people were not spending all this money on properties that they intended to flip for profit later. Another example of sheer greed overriding common sense. The problem is, who is going to buy these virtual properties? What can you do with them? NOTHING, from what I can tell. Sell advertising, as the company suggests above? Advertising requires visitors. Who is going to bother visiting these properties?!?? How are they going to visit them?? On their cellphones, as suggested by this promotional video? Why would they even bother???

Argh, this blockchain bullshit is driving me crazy.

Note that, since there is no indication that you can actually be social (i.e. interact with other avatars) in Mossland, I am not including this on my list of social VR/virtual worlds. Frankly, I should take Worldopoly off that list, for the same reason.

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Decentraland’s Second Land Auction Has Started

Decentraland 14 Feb 2018

Decentraland has announced that the unsold plots of land left over from their first auction are now up for grabs to the highest bidder, between now and Christmas. The virtual parcels of land are 10 metres by 10 metres square, and called, simply, LAND. In the past, prices for LAND have gone as high as US$120,000 each in frenzied bidding wars, the prices being driven up by eager cryptocurrency speculators hoping to make a profit.

In an announcement posted on Dec. 10th, the company states:

The LAND Auction will run until Sunday, December 25th, 2018.

Ever since the first LAND Auction last December, people have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to claim some of the unsold, unowned LAND remaining in Genesis City. Even with the 34,356 parcels sold last year, there are still over 9,000 up for grabs!

We are extremely excited to kick off this next auction, and want to thank the entire Decentraland community for your continued support and enthusiasm. This is an exciting next step for the platform, and we look forwarding to building something incredible, together.

For additional details, and answers to some of the common questions we’ve received, keep reading!

Where do I access the auction?

The auction will be held right in the Decentraland Marketplace, at market.decentraland.org/auction. It’s also easy to access the auction through our partner’s mobile dApp browsers, like StatusimToken, and Trust!

How do I participate?

Simply create a wallet with MetaMask, Mist, or use a Trezor hard wallet, and ensure that you have sufficient funds in either MANA or one of our partner project’s ERC20 tokens.

You can also use a variety of mobile wallets, like Coinbase WalletTrust Wallet, and imToken!

We have two video tutorials showing how to log in, manage your tokens, select the parcels you want to buy, and complete your transaction! Check them out here:

Can I bid for multiple parcels at once?

Yes! In fact, the second auction is a wonderful opportunity to secure an estate, or expand your current holdings to include some of the adjacent unowned space.

Contiguous estates make it possible to host larger, more complicated scenes and experiences. You will be able to purchase up to 20 parcels per transaction.

When will I receive the parcels I buy in the auction?

Once the transaction for your purchase has been processed, you will receive your LAND immediately. The transaction must still be mined by the Ethereum network which may take several minutes, as with any normal LAND transfer on the Decentraland Marketplace.

Virtual land will be sold in the fashion of a Dutch auction:

How is the price for each parcel determined?

We are using a Dutch auction, in which all available parcels are started at the same price of 200,000 MANA. This price is continuously and progressively lowered, until a final price of 1,000 MANA is reached on the last day of the auction. You can read more about how the price is set, and the rate at which it’s lowered in this blogpost.

Only two days into the auction, there’s still lots of LAND available to bid on, as prices are still pretty high (currently, 48,479 MANA each, which works out to US$2,613). Bids can be placed using Decentraland’s own cryptocurrency, MANA, or any of the following ERC20-compliant tokens:

  • Maker (MKR)
  • Dai (DAI)
  • Binance Coin (BNB)
  • Kyber Network (KNC)
  • Zilliqa (ZIL)
  • Riplo Credit Network (RCN)
  • Aelf (ELF)
  • Status (SNT)

(Don’t ask me to explain any of this to you; it’s all just gobblegook acronyms to me!)

As I have warned before, do all your homework before investing a single cent in any cryptocurrency and any blockchain-based virtual world. Caveat Emptor!

Virtual Universe Is a Victim of the Cryptocurrency Market Downturn: The Company Finally Releases a Statement

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After months without any official word about the Virtual Universe project, the company behind the product, Ukledo, posted the following message to their Telegram discussion group:

The Ukledo team wants to bring our followers up to date on the Virtual Universe (VU) project. As we have all undoubtedly seen, the crypto market is currently experiencing a major downturn and many projects are now underwater or completely failed. No one quite knows how long this condition may occur. VU has been affected by this general crypto bear market. Also, the consumer adoption of Virtual Reality is not quite where the market hoped it would be. It’s coming, but not as fast as most of us thought.

Virtual Reality development is an expensive and complex undertaking, even for the simplest of applications. As a result, until the market picks up (both from a consumer adoption and investment perspective) the team is focusing on a shorter term strategy that can create revenues to keep the Company moving forward, and keep your interest and involvement as well. The team is a big believer in the ultimate vision of VU. However, as is often the case with a young startup, timing plays a pivotal role in success.

We sincerely appreciate all the support from the community (and the nearly 20,000 users who signed up for a free account). We will do everything in our power in the months ahead to create a strategy that allows us to eventually bring this vision to market. Also, please do not fall prey to scammers who appear to be popping up in this Telegram from time to time.

We have had to reduce marketing/communications (related to budget) but will remain active in the channel for questions/comments.

Thank you,

The Ukledo Team

Well, this is serious, but at least we have a better idea what’s going on. Previous to this company announcement, one member of the Virtual Universe Telegram community (who is not associated with the company) posted this update with only second-hand information about the current state of the company:

I feel everyone’s pain. I’m disappointed that the VU team is not more active on Telegram or any other means of communication. I have talked to someone close to the project. Unfortunately, it’s sounds like the project is struggling to lock in investors in the private sale. They are also seeking the possibility of linking up with some well-established platforms in the space. I am by no means associated with the project. I only know people who are.

I also have many questions that have not been answered yet. I don’t believe the team is ready to call it quits yet. That is why there has not been any word on refunds. I can, however, assure you that they have not up and vanished. I will keep everyone posted with news that I receive since it does not seem the team is doing it themselves.

The Virtual Universe project is a reminder that even a beautiful-looking, well-featured demo does not guarantee success in this dire cryptocurrency market. Will the market recover? Who knows. Perhaps it would have been better if Ukledo, the company behind VU, had pursued a more traditional fund-raising route for their virtual world project from the start, rather than making a risky bet on crypto. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. It looks extremely unlikely that Ukledo will be able to stick to their original plan to have a public beta launch of Virtual Universe in January 2019. Those who have purchased VU tokens before their sale was suspended will simply have to wait to see if they will ever get a chance to use their tokens, or if they will become just another worthless cryptocurrency.

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Mark Space Announces the Visualization 2 Stage of Their Residential Development

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Remember Mark Space? I wrote in the past about how underwhelmed I was by their nascent virtual world platform, with its 360-degree photos of rooms where you rearranged 2-dimensional pictures of furniture. Not terribly impressive, and I’m not the only person who thought so, either.

Well, here’s the latest Mark Space promotional video:

The Russian company behind Mark Space has proudly announced an incremental upgrade to their platform, called Visualization 2. The big news is that you can now insert, rotate, and tint 3-dimensional objects such as furniture. In fact, what you build is now an awkward mix of 2D and 3D content, as can be seen in the following six-minute video that walks you through the whole process of decorating the 64-square-metre blank box you purchased for your residence using the MRK cryptocurrency:

You purchase the virtual land for your home using a marketplace called the UNITEX, which could badly use some well-written help pages to allow you to decipher the listings:

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The cheapest price for a 64 m² plot of land is 1,000 MRK (which works out to about US$6.00 at current exchange rates). So land is still relatively cheap, at least.

Mark Space plans to launch in March of 2019. If you’re interested, you can follow the project’s development via their Telegram, their BitcoinTalk forum, their Facebook page, plus LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Medium, YouTube, and of course, their website.

So, what do I think about all this now? I think that there are virtual worlds out there that are way, WAY ahead of Mark Space in development, and which do not rely on the blockchain or cryptocurrencies (which I still feel is a solution looking for a problem to solve). And what you can actually do on the platform (even if they did finally integrate 3-dimensional objects) is not really that impressive overall.

There’s some talk of user avatars and AI-controlled pets, but no mention of how they will work, or how you can customize them. The entire project is big on fancy graphics and lofty promises, but still very short on the technical implementation details. Take, for example, this image used to promote their new residential creation tool:

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There is absolutely no way you can actually build a house that looks like this, using the limited toolset Mark Space is going to make available in Visualization 2! You are restricted to 64-square-metre boxes, which you can connect with doors (if you own more than one connected box). Compared to what you can already achieve in any of the newer virtual world platforms—Sansar, High Fidelity. Sinespace, VRChat—this is laughable. Even 15-year-old Second Life has far better in-world prim-building tools than what Mark Space offers you.

Again, I will be watching safely from the sidelines as this project unfolds. I wish them luck; they are certainly going to need it to succeed in this severely depressed cryptocurrency market. The only blockchain-based virtual world that I would even have considered investing in before (Virtual Universe) has gone as silent as the tomb after suspending their token sale. The crypto market is hammering a lot of start-ups.

Mark my words: there will be casualties among the many blockchain-based virtual world platforms within the next two years. Caveat emptor! As crypto journalist Ian DeMartino has written:

VR is cool, Blockchains are interesting. That doesn’t mean investors should throw their money at anyone who says those industry buzzwords. The MARK.SPACE demo is really bad VR and the MARK.SPACE token is a really [bad] crypto.

Stay away at all costs, or at least until they come out with a product that actually has some potential.