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

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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:

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

Then you get the flat-out spammers:

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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):

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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!

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Editorial: Crypto/Blockchain is Becoming a Cesspool

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Image by TheDigitalArtist on Pixabay
Ever since I encountered my first blockchain-based virtual world, Decentraland, back in February, I have been watching the marketplace closely. Many companies have announced social VR platforms based on the blockchain; either they are selling a cryptocurrency for use in their virtual worlds, or are using blockchain technology in some another way, such as registering ownership of virtual land. I have joined the Discord and Telegram channels for the various metaverse-building companies and avidly followed the discussions and arguments taking place. I have scanned their websites. I have read through all their white papers.

The hype surrounding blockchain technology has now reached unprecedented levels. Some of the claims made by companies (or their cheerleaders) for blockchain-based virtual worlds have been misguided at best and deluded at worst (here’s just one example). Bold promises are being made for virtual places which you cannot even visit yet, or which only exist in skeleton form.

In some cases, the use of blockchain is a solution where there wasn’t a problem in the first place, as someone else recently pointed out when commenting on one product. In other cases, companies may be feeding the impression that their blockchain-based coin/token/land will only gain in value, without making the risk clear. Investors who have not done their proper due diligence have jumped on board many recent ICOs and ITOs, hoping to score huge profits similar to those who were early investors in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Frankly, one of the few companies I have encountered in this area that actually has some substance behind all the hype is Virtual Universe, and I have given video proof as to why I am looking forward to their product launch. But the often-misleading and sometimes-shady statements of some blockchain-based virtual world companies are tainting the entire marketplace, including VU. If I were an investor, I wouldn’t touch any of them with a ten-foot pole.

As I have stated before, I am part of the Virtual Universe (VU) Initial Coin Offering Partner Program (I’m currently number two on their VU Token Leaderboard). The main reason I am participating in that program is that it’s the only legal way I can earn VU tokens before the social VR space launches later this summer (as a Canadian I cannot buy tokens). But I refuse to put one cent of my own money into any cryptocurrency at this point, and I advise anybody who wishes to do so, to do every single scrap of their homework before investing in any product or service. It’s simply too risky.

For example, I am currently a member of the Staramba Spaces Telegram community, and I has been watching with increasing dismay over the past week as numerous people report that scammers are trying to steal their money by impersonating Staramba staff and direct-messaging potential customers, posing as agents for the Staramba initial token offering. The entire Staramba ITO has been a shambles, with the company having to hurriedly suspend the buying of tokens by credit card until a later date. (And why would you choose to go deeper into debt to buy a blockchain token in the first place? It’s insanity.)

The actions of a few bad apples (both individuals and companies) are threatening to spoil the entire barrel. Also, greed is driving investors into ill-informed and risky speculation, and currently, there is a crypto feeding frenzy that is starting to remind me of Shark Week. I fear that this is a financial bubble that will hurt many investors when it implodes. Caveat emptor!

UPDATED: Staramba Spaces—Another Blockchain-Based Virtual World, Built Around Celebrities

Hey, have you ever wanted to be next-door neighbours with Paris Hilton?

Yeah, me neither. But a new blockchain-based virtual world called Staramba Spaces plans to give you that opportunity, according to this article from the CoinTelegraph website titled Company Creates Decentralized VR World Where Public Can Meet Celebrities:

An established company that is listed on the stock exchange in Frankfurt is creating a decentralized, social virtual reality world which gives users the chance to rub shoulders with some of the world’s biggest celebrities.

Staramba has already created what it claims is the world’s largest database of 3D avatars, which features 7,000 stars. They specialize in creating lifelike avatars for Hollywood studios, as well as companies like Konami, the brand behind the ProEvolutionSoccer video game – with its scan of David Beckham featuring prominently in the title’s 2019 edition.

Its upcoming venture, Staramba.spaces, allows users to immerse themselves in a virtual world and engage with their idols in a whole new way. Training sessions with an internationally renowned football star would become possible – as well as enjoying a singalong with a famous musician.

The platform also offers users the opportunity to buy virtual plots of land. Examples highlighted by Staramba’s white paper include the prospect of becoming a neighbor to Cristiano Ronaldo or Paris Hilton, or gaining a prime property with a balcony that overlooks the grounds of a major football club.

These investments could prove lucrative, as it will be possible to rent out these plots to other users – or sell a desirable space at a premium. The company envisages that demand will be high because properties in the most fascinating locations with the highest footfall are going to be finite.

Aaah yes…playing the land scarcity card again. Buy now, because there are only so many coveted spots next to Paris Hilton! Decentraland and its many investors are another social VR space trying to pump up the prices of its virtual land using that angle as well, and it seems to be working…or is it just creating a financial bubble?

Here’s the Staramba website:

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(Which reminds me, I need to post an update to my popular blogpost about stupid pictures promoting virtual reality. This one definitely belongs in that category!)

Of course, there is the requisite, slicky-produced promotional video, with “pre-alpha in-game footage”, whatever that means:

Staramba will use a cryptocurrency called the Staramba token as an in-game currency. They plan an initial token offering (ITO) this summer. The actual platform, to be called Staramba Spaces, is not expected to launch before the fourth quarter of 2018.

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Staramba has signed agreements with various celebrities and sports clubs:

Staramba has already forged a series of partnerships – including with top-flight football clubs such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, the world’s number one table tennis player Timo Boll, and wrestling legend Hulk Hogan.

Other official licensing partners include the English Football Association, Paris Hilton, SLASH and KISS. It expects further A-listers from the worlds of entertainment, music and sport to join in the future.

I wonder how much Staramba is paying Paris Hilton for the use of her likeness…I mean, who is actually going to get excited about hanging out with a 3D-scanned replica of a celebrity like Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo?Staramba 3 29 May 2018

Again, this is yet another blockchain-based social VR space that I plan to watch (from the sidelines) as it develops. Mark my words, all of these companies in this increasingly-crowded marketplace are not going to survive.

I’ll leave you with yet another promotional video for Staramba Spaces, featuring Paris Hilton herself. Turns out she’s an investor in the project. “That’s hot.”


UPDATE June 20th: A recently published due diligence report on the Staramba ITO by the self-described “open, collaborative ICO due diligence” service called ConcourseQ has plainly stated one rather obvious problem with Staramba’s planned platform:

Drawing 3D models of the celebrities does not mean that those celebrities have accepted to interact with their fans on the Staramba platform.

Now, I don’t know anything about the bona fides of the people who run ConcourseQ, so you can accept or reject their recommendation as you see fit. But they have touched on the one thing that has been bothering me the most about Staramba Spaces: How much interaction with real celebrities will you actually get, with all this talk of “lifelike scans” of celebrities and soccer stars? Why would you want to hang out with a 3D scan of a famous person in the first place? And, for the love of God, why would you want to be neighbours with Paris Hilton?

I guess we won’t find out answers to those questions until Staramba Spaces launches later this year. I can’t wait to see what they have to offer.