UPDATED! How the Crypto Crash Is Affecting Blockchain-Based Metaverse Platforms: Will a Crypto Winter Kill Off Some Projects?

I have been waiting a while to write this editorial, but I think the right time has come.

(Somebody posted this to the r/buttcoin Reddit, and I had to laugh!)

I have been avidly following every twist and turn of the current crypto crash, following various Reddit communities and scouring Google and Apple News for the reports of the latest crypto companies to fail, taking their investors’ money with them. The chain of dominos continues to fall, and nobody can predict where or when this “crypto winter” will end.

In talking about all this, there’s lot of jargon being thrown around which can sometimes be difficult to understand: smart contracts, DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, etc. The following 7-minute YouTube video explains all these and other terms, and I can recommend it highly (and it can serve as a refresher for the rest of you):

From the moment I first began writing about the blockchain-based virtual worlds and social VR platforms (starting with Decentraland, years before they actually opened their doors to the general public), I have been fascinated by the new crop of metaverse projects boasting some blockchain component. These projects seem to split into two kinds:

1. Projects with Non-Fungible Token (NFT)-based virtual real estate (e.g. Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, The Sandbox). All such projects tend to have their own cryptocurrency (or use Ether, ETH), and offer a marketplace where you can buy and sell other blockchain-based goods, such as avatar wearables.

2. Projects without NFT land, but with an associated cryptocurrency (e.g. Sensorium Galaxy and NeosVR).

While examples of the second category are few in number, there has been an explosion of projects announced in the first category over the past couple of years. Many of these projects had hoped to duplicate the success of Decentraland, which had the great good fortune to do an Initial Coin Offering at the absolute perfect time, in 2017 raising US$24 million dollars before ever building a platform.

Decentraland’s successful subsequent virtual land auctions (with their frenzied bidding wars for NFT-based virtual pieces of land called, naturally enough, LAND) also attracted a lot of attention and favourable press. This no doubt encouraged other companies to set up similar schemes in an effort to duplicate that success. Among those that have actually delivered a viable product to date are Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, and the still-in-alpha/beta-testing-but-soon-to-launch platform The Sandbox. Each of these projects inspired similar bidding frenzies for artificially-scarce NFT-based parcels of virtual real estate, in some cases setting records.

The following charts show just how much the value of the cryptocurrencies associated with just these six projects has tumbled over the past three months (all charts are via the CoinMarketCap website):

Decentraland MANA to USD chart (past three months)
Somnium Space CUBE to USD chrt (past 3 months)
ETH (used in Cryptovoxels/Voxels) to USD chart (past three months)
The Sandbox’s SAND to USD chart (past three months)
Sensorium Galaxy’s SENSO to USD chart (past three months)

And here’s one that really hurts: the surge and plunge in value of Neos Credits (NCR) over the past year. At the moment, project development has come to a near-standstill as the CEO fights against the CTO and the rest of the dev team about the role crypto will play in the NeosVR platform (and the matter will likely land up in court for the lawyers to battle over).

It’s still not clear if NeosVR can recover from this fiasco, which breaks my heart because it has such great technology! I do consider this to be the textbook example of how crypto speculation and greed can cause problems with an otherwise stellar platform; without being hooked to NCR, a cryptocurrency which has as yet has no practical use on the platform, NeosVR would still be doing very well! Instead, it is bleeding investors.

In addition, you can see the clear downward trend in both sales volume and average sale price for the following NFT-based properties over time (all taken from the NFT Stats website). Some seem to be doing a bit better than others, but all are down:

Decentraland LAND sales volume and average sale price (past three months)
Somnium Space Land NFTs sales volumes and average sales price (past three months)
Voxels—foremerly called Cryptovoxels—sales volumes and average dale prices (past three months)
The Sandbox’s LAND sales volumes and average sale prices (past three months)

The overall situation is grim, particularly for those who bought cryptocurrencies and NFTs at the height of the market, perhaps expecting to flip them for a quick profit. But, for the countless blockchain-based metaverse projects who hopped on the bandwagon after Decentraland and the other market early movers, the situation is even worse. In many cases, the newer companies expected to raise funds by minting and selling NFTs to investors, often well before anything concrete was built! Examples of such projects include two I have written about earlier this year, Wilder World and VictoriaVR, but there are literally dozens and dozens more such projects, more than I could ever hope to cover in my blog. The prognosis for these newer projects is not looking especially promising, as potential investors head for the hills.

And, sadly, the bullish crypto market also brought out all the scammers who wanted to take advantage of the hothouse atmosphere of crypto investment, accepting money up front for what was essentially vapourware, and then pulling the rug out from under those who had not done their proper due diligence. Greed and FOMO (fear of missing out) drove a lot of ignorant cryptobros to pour money into a lot of projects which, to date, have had little to show for them but a slick website and an active Discord (or Telegram) server where everybody was pumping everybody else up to buy and HODL (hold on for dear life to) their associated crypto and NFT assets.

Some non-financially-savvy people, believing that they were truly on to a sure thing, gambled money they could not afford to lose—their life savings, their retirement funds, even their childrens’ college funds—and have lost everything, or next to everything, in the current bear market, holding near-worthless assets they cannot find anyone to sell to. I keep reading heartbreaking stories in the various subReddits of investors who have lost everything. Many have spoken of suicide, and many Reddit communities have posted resources to support those who are struggling with their mental health as a result of their poor financial decisions.

In the current environment, I believe that any blockchain-based metaverse (or a metaverse platform with an associated cryptocurrency), is going to be in for a very rough ride over the next few months, as governments around the world raise interest rates, and the easy, low-interest credit dries up, and a global recession looms. People are going to retreat to safer investments, fleeing the demonstrably high volatility of crypto and blockchain assets like NFTs. We can expect to see a mass stampede to the exits in some projects, and frankly, not all the blockchain-based metaverse platforms out there will survive.

UPDATE July 14th, 2022: In yet another sign of growing trouble in the NFT space, which has seen sales nosedive in recent months, the major NFT marketplace OpenSea has announced today that it is laying off 20% of its staff.

UPDATED! Creator Jam’s Metaverse Maker Competition Runs Feb. 1st to March 1st, 2022, in NeosVR, with US$300,000 in Neos Credits as Prizes!

The insanely talented Creator Jam community in the innovative social VR platform NeosVR is once again hosting a competition for content creators, with prizes in 13 different categories consisting of Neos Credits (NCR), NeosVR’s cryptocurrency (at press time, 1 NCR = 3.88 USD, but at times in the recent past, cryptocurrency speculators have driven NCR to reach the dizzying heights of 10 USD each!).

The Metaverse Maker Competition (MMC) is a month long competition in NeosVR where participants make a world, avatar, or other type of creation to win a prize. In past MMC competitions there were creations ranging from avatar creators, social worlds, games, NPCs, generative art, custom tools, and much more. Entry is free, and anyone can participate, either as individuals or groups (if you are looking for a group to join, here’s a shared spreadsheet of opportunities).

Here’s a summary of the MMC prize categories (source; please also read the official contest rules):


• 50,000+ NCR (~$150,000) Total
• Official Badges (supported by Neos)
• Digital Trophies

Prize is in the form of NCR (Neos Credits cryptocurrency, not USD). More info can be found here.

Prizes are split by category and placement (winner and honorable mention).

13 Total Categories:

World: Social (Individual/Team with 5 or fewer members)  – environments focused on social gatherings and groups

World: Social (Team with 6 or more members)  – environments focused on social gatherings and groups

World: Game (Individual/Team with 5 or fewer members) – worlds that are games

World: Game (Team with 6 or more members)  – worlds that are games

World: Misc – any world that doesn’t fit into the Art, Educational/Science/Dataviz, Meme category or Social, Game subcategory

Avatar: Avatars – if the avatar is equippable, it counts

Avatar: Accessories – any wearable item for use with avatars such as equibbables, clothes, user interfaces, etc…

Avatar: Misc – anything avatar related that doesn’t fit into Avatars or Accessories subcategory such as avatar creators, avatar animation systems, etc…

Other: Tools, Apps. and Utilities (TAU)  – objects that create additional functionality such as tools, apps, and utilities.

Other: Misc – any object that doesn’t fit into the Art, Educational/Science/Dataviz, Meme category or TAU subcategory such as weapons, code, special effects, etc…

Art – entries with the primary focus only on art

Education/Science/Dataviz (ESD) – any works that focus on educational, tutorial, scientific aspects, and or data visualization.

Meme – humor and parody category. Works will be a form of parody and comedic use so any asset is acceptable.

Here’s the online registration form for the Metaverse Maker Competition, if you’re interested and you want to enter.

(By the way, the Creator Jam is still looking for prize sponsors; here’s the sponsor guide in English, Japanese, and Korean. One kind soul recently donated 30,000 NCR to sweeten the prize pot, the equivalent of US$90,000!)

If you want to learn more about NeosVR, you can visit their website or their wiki, check out their Steam page, join their Discord server, or follow them on social media: FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. (The Creator Jam community has their own separate Discord server, which you can join as well). And, of course, you can always choose to support the project through their Patreon page (as I do).

UPDATE 9:16 p.m.: I have been informed that the MCC prize pool has now increased to over 70,000 NCR (approximately US$210,000 at current exchange rates), thanks to another sizeable donation by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. I have therefore updated the title of this blogpost accordingly.

UPDATE Jan. 19th, 2022: The Creator Jam announced on Twitter that NeosVR has added 30,000 NCR to the Metaverse Maker Competition prize pot, bringing it to 100,000 NCR (equivalent to US$300,00!):

I have updated the title of this blogpost accordingly.

UPDATED! A Dispute Over Cryptocurrency Leads to Social VR Platform NeosVR Being (Temporarily) Removed from Steam

UPDATE Nov. 5th, 2021: NeosVR is now back up on Steam.

As much as it pains me to write about this story, the tagline of the RyanSchultz.com blog is “News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse”, and this definitely is news.

It turns out that, due to a dispute between Valve/Steam and NeosVR over the latter’s cryptocurrencies (Neos Credits or NCR, plus other tokens called KFC and CDFT), the social VR platform has been removed from Steam. The team at NeosVR is currently hard at work to fix the problem, but I have been told that it could take as long as one to two weeks to resolve the situation. In the meantime, Neos is off Steam.

Notice: At the request of the publisher, Neos VR is no longer available for sale on Steam.

You might be forgiven if you were not even aware that NeosVR has an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency called Neos Credits (NCR), for which they have an ongoing Initial Coin Offering (ICO). More details are in their white paper.

Karel Hulec (the co-founder and CEO of Solirax, the Czech company building NeosVR), pinned the following messages to the -credits-ncr channel on the official NeosVR Discord:

We’ll be shortly removing NCR functionality from main Steam Store branch upon request by Valve to make it available again for new downloads on their platform and of course prioritizing our own launcher/updater with builds that support Credits.

We knew from the start NCR is not going to be available on all platforms Neos will be. I hope it will return to Steam builds sometimes down the line when they change the rules again. The ICO has provided a lot of funding for Neos and made it long term sustainable, opened a path for Neos to become a great open source metaverse rivaling some of the most popular ones – it is certainly worth having it in independent builds and on platforms that allow for it.

According to the FAQ list posted to their wiki:

What’s Happening?

We’re disabling NCR/KFC/CDFT functionality on the main Steam build of Neos. This will allow us to continue updating Neos via Steam. You can find the Steam build notes that made this change here.

Does this mean Neos is gone from Steam forever?

No, We’re working with Steam to get Neos re-instated with a build that does not contain NCR/KFC/CDFT. We’ll keep you up to date.

I can’t download Neos from Steam; what can I do?

Download the standalone build.

Can I still use NCR/KFC/CDFT?

Yes, for now we have a standalone build which has NCR/KFC/CDFT enabled (see video below)

In the future, we’ll be looking at other solutions such as our custom launcher, called Neosine.

What this means is: if you are a Patreon supporter of NeosVR (which includes a monthly reward of NCR), and if you use the upcoming Steam version of the NeosVR client, you would still be able to receive your NCR each month, but you won’t be able to access it unless you use the special launcher/client that’s not on Steam. In other words, you will still be getting your NCR, but you won’t be able to send it to users, cash out, or put it into Neos from an outside wallet on Steam builds of the Neos client.

Under this proposed system, NeosVR can stay on Steam (which is good for publicity of the platform, plus many people see being on Steam as a stamp of approval), but a stand-alone version of the NeosVR client with NCR enabled can co-exist.

However, this dispute between Steam and Neos is coming at the WORST possible time for Jason Moore’s MetaMovie production, Alien Rescue, which is on now. Jason basically has to tear up the instructions he sent out to the people who bought tickets. I wrote on the NeosVR Discord:

It’s just really unfortunate timing, as a whole bunch of Neos newbies will be visiting the platform over the next month for Alien Rescue, and Jason Moore is going to have to rewrite his instructions for new users. While the Discord download link is useful some people may not be comfortable navigating a) Discord and b) unzipping the client (it uses, 7zip, right? So they have to find and install an unzipper program, too).

Essentially, it means an extra couple of steps for people to download and install the client software, but it’s a pain in the ass nevertheless! As a rule of thumb, any extra step that inexperienced users have to go through to get onto your platform is a bad thing. NeosVR is going to have to work extra hard after this incident to make it easier for non-computer-geeks to use! (This is admittedly a problem for all social VR platforms, but NeosVR in particular has a rather steep learning curve for its powerful toolset.)

One bright spot amidst the gloom is that cryptocurrency speculators (who perhaps had been previously unaware that NeosVR has crypto) have been busily minting new NCR using Ethereum, since the news broke yesterday! (Please don’t ask me to explain that last sentence; I am still a relative cryptonewbie! All I know is that some people are terribly, terribly excited about this.)

For further information on this issue, I am going to refer you to the wiki page NeosVR set up here with a list of frequently-asked questions (FAQ) about the status of NeosVR on Steam, questions concerning the new launcher, and general information on how this will impact Neos Credits (NCR): Steam Changes.

As well, you can read through the past couple of days of discussion on:

Here’s a quick video of how to download and run the new non-Steam (token-enabled) build:

If you want to learn more about NeosVR, you can visit their website or their wiki, check out their Steam page, join their Discord server, or follow them on social media: FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. And, of course, you can always choose to support the project through their Patreon page (as I do).