The gamers amongst you might know what it’s like to explore an empty, virtual world. There’s something eerie about a world that was so cleverly engineered for people, only for them to be devoid of life. Much like liminal spaces, exploring these can give us an ambivalent mix of nostalgia and unsettling anxiety.
Well according to a recent report from Web3 data aggregator DappRadar, two of the biggest Web3 Virtual Worlds by value might end up just like that.
The DappRadar Report
There’s been excessive marketing hype around the term ‘metaverse’ in both the cryptosphere and the tech space, but the Web3 understanding seems to be different to Web2. In Web3, ‘metaverse’ is used to describe a game-like virtual world, platform, or a virtual ecosystem, usually supported by blockchain technology to enable the ownership of the digital assets found in these worlds.
In these ecosystems, the community is the lifeblood. But two of these biggest ecosystems—Decentraland and The Sandbox—seem to be bleeding out.
According to recent reports, Decentraland had less than 40 daily active users while its competitor The Sandbox had reported 522 in the same 24 hours. This is all according to DappRadar, a Web3 data aggregation app—but all may not be as it seems.
Decentraland Bites Back
As you might expect, leadership at Decentraland were quick to retort to DappRadar’s active user metric. Creative Director Sam Hamilton argues that DappRadar doesn’t measure active users at all.
According to Hamilton, the platform actually has about 8,000 daily users—a significant difference, but still seeming small for a company valued at over a billion dollars.
The active user metric on DappRadar in fact measures unique wallet addresses interacting with the platform's smart contracts—self-executing codes enabled by blockchain. This means that the metric doesn't count people who simply log in and interact with other users in the virtual world, or who drop in briefly for an event. Instead, it would only track transactional interactions.
Hamilton instead urged users to look at the metrics offered by using their own platform’s dashboard—which suggested almost 60,000 monthly average users in September.
The Sandbox CEO Arthur Madrid also disputed DappRadar’s metrics,likening it to only measuring people paying for things in a shopping mall, and so ignoring the rest of the crowd.
Web3 companies have been quick to jump on the metaverse hype—creating custom virtual worlds for their communities to interact, engage, and even pay to own virtual land. These companies have raised some significant funds for their ecosystems, but usership still seems to be trailing, especially in the extended bear market.
Like other communication technology, these virtual worlds will rely on network effects, getting more and more valuable as more people use them. For now, it’s hard to know which side to trust about the daily users, but DappRadar’s metrics seem to miss the bigger picture.