Comparing Blockchain-Based Virtual World Projects

I am still monitoring the various blockchain-based virtual world projects via their discussion forums on Telegram. In particular, there’s been a lot of chatter lately about the Mark Space project, which I still regard with a high degree of wariness. They may have made some cosmetic improvements to the spaces you can build, but I still don’t think they’re terribly appealing compared to what you can do in Sansar, High Fidelity, etc. Here, see for yourself:

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:

  • district0x
  • Metaverse (now there’s a poorly-chosen name!)
  • Cappasity
  • Spectiv
  • Prosense
  • Matryx

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.

Advertisements

Mark Space Announces the Visualization 2 Stage of Their Residential Development

Mark Space Logo.png

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:

Mark Space Unitex.png

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:

Mark Space.png

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.

The Telegram Discussion Groups for the Various Blockchain-Based VR Projects Have Been Endlessly Entertaining…

Telegram.png

There seems to be some sort of rule that blockchain-based virtual world projects must have a discussion group on Telegram Messenger. I am a member of the Telegram discussion servers for various blockchain-based VR platforms:

And the endless stream of discussion, argument, and sometimes outright vitriol has been quite entertaining at times. For example, one impatient wag posted this animated GIF to the VIBEHub channel:

There appear to be a lot of disgruntled VIBEHub investors and spectators, who are upset with the lack of communication from the company on product development.

And then you get the endless propositions from people who are peddling cryptocurrency and ICO promotion schemes:

ICO Promotion.png

ICO Promotion 2.png

ICO Promotion 3.png

I’m glad that I don’t have to field all these requests …it’s overwhelming!

Then you get the flat-out spammers:

spammer.png

If you’re interested in following the ongoing circus, you can find links to the Telegram servers from each of the companies’ official websites (there’s usually a link to all their social media near the top or bottom of the page, just look for the paper airplane symbol):

Stay Connected.png

Of course, you don’t have to subscribe to all these groups; you can just subscribe to my blog instead! I promise to keep you all up-to-date on the latest shenanigans in this area. I’ve just updated my blog to make it easier to subscribe.

If you’re not already a blog subscriber, just look for the FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL section on the left-hand side panel of my blog (right under the Search box), enter your email address, and press the black FOLLOW button. Then you will receive an email message every time I make a new blogpost to this blog. Easy as pie!

A Crypto Journalist Critiques Mark Space

Cryptocurrency journalist and author Ian DeMartino has written an (unfortunately undated) detailed critique of the blockchain-based virtual world Mark Space on the AllCrypto.com website.

Mark Space 23 Jun 2018

Ian decided to do some investigation of Mark Space, and he answers a question I had had about the company’s previously-announced links to Land Rover and Jaguar:

I decided to investigate them with a critical eye, this is what I found.

I first noticed a Jaguar/Land Rover logo on their main page, claiming them as a partner. They also announced the partnership in a press release posted on Medium. I found this claim to be somewhat dubious because I couldn’t find a corresponding press release from Jaguar/Land Rover or its Russian division.

I contacted Jaguar/Land Rover’s corporate office and they told me they were not aware of any partnership with MARK.SPACE but got me into contact with their Russian division. The Russian department did say that they talked to MARK.SPACE but also confirmed that they have no such partnership.

The next day, the Jaguar/Land Rover logo was removed from MARK.SPACE’s site, though the Press Release remains unedited on Medium. I asked MARK.SPACE’s Editor and Community Manager Boris Baranov about this and he told me that they had discussions with Jaguar/Land Rover Russia and had a signed document. I am currently waiting for proof of that document to be emailed to me and will update this space if I receive it.

The second thing I wanted to look at was the concept of the project itself. MARK.SPACE foresees a future where people buy real estate in virtual reality, real estate that can only be purchased with their token.

In their vision, there will be different districts, like residential and business, and users and businesses would customize their spaces to entice virtual shoppers to their virtual stores. Customers will walk around mall-like virtual environments and purchase goods using the MARK.SPACE token, all inside the virtual space.

I have quite a few issues with this plan. First, virtual space, by its definition, should be limited only by the cost of storage. Artificially limiting it through a blockchain seems like a solution with no problem.

Ian goes on, as I had blogged about back in February, about what Mark Space calls “VR”:

In the creation section of the demo, you can pick from a few preset apartments and add flat pictures and add various objects. The problem is that there is no 3D space represented at all. You just place flat images on other flat images. If it doesn’t look natural, that’s fine. In fact, it rarely looks natural. They give you the option to “rotate” an object, but currently that just flips the image. Likewise, pulling the object closer to you simply makes the image larger, with no scaling or definition.

The entire article is well worth a read. Ian wraps up his critique by saying:

Having some dubious connection to the blockchain doesn’t change anything. I’m obviously a big believer in blockchain technology, but it isn’t just something you can slap onto any emergent technology and expect it to make everything better. There must be a use for it that other services can’t provide. Adding another layer of payment by artificially limiting virtual real estate isn’t fixing a problem, it’s creating one.

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.