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What Went Wrong With Decentraland? Expert Game Analyst on The Blockchain-Based Metaverse Platform With High Ideals, Few Users

You might have seen recent claims that Decentraland, the metaverse platform which raised USD $25 million in Ethereum sales of virtual land to fund its development, only has active users in the dozens. That’s not quite true, game industry analyst and designer Lars Doucet tells me, citing his recent report for research firm Naavik — as of yesterday, for instance, Decentraland has about 7000 daily active users. 

Which is still not very much! (And tracks with my own data from last Summer.) 

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” Lars tells me. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects — like people turn the [project’s] Discord into a meetup place for poker games. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

You can see that in this Decentraland metrics tracker, with “ICE Poker” as the most visited location by far. It’s quite a fall from boom times (by which I mean last year) when huge firms like J.P. Morgan were touting their official “headquarters” in Decentraland. 

And there’s some tragedy, too — I’ve been following the platform since 2017, when the founders raised $25 million in Ethereum to fund it, and tried to keep true to its original, democratic-seeming vision.

“Decentraland is one of the few crypto metaverse/virtual real estate games to take its commitment to decentralization seriously,” as Lars tells me. “Like they seem to actually drink their own kool aid rather than using it as a cynical layer of paper thin marketing material like the other ones. To wit; their infrastructure is actually pretty decentralized!”

Then again, that’s also been one of Decentraland’s challenges.

Here’s why, according to a recent conversation I had with Lars, compressed for length  — with his own advice on how Decentraland might revive itself:

The decentral aspect itself, he notes, might actually be “one of the reasons the game is somewhat slow and…


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