On Saturday Striscia la Notizia aired a report by Marco Camisani Calzolari (MCC) dedicated to the metaverse in which the well-known popularizer highlighted the shortcomings of Decentraland and The Sandbox.
The report aimed in particular to make it clear how underdeveloped the metaverse still is, and how much instead this word is used out of hand with mere propaganda purposes.
MCC cites the original idea of the metaverse expressed by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson.
In his novel Snow Crash published in 1992, which is an iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, immersive virtual world. Accessed with special devices virtual reality and augmented reality. That make it an effectively immersive user experience.
MCC’s specific goal was to make it clear how the metaverse of Meta, the Facebook and Instagram company, is not a true metaverse actually, because it is, in fact, a private, closed platform, and certainly not unique and universal.
Thus, the metaverse Meta is working on would not be a true metaverse, but a closed proprietary immersive virtual reality platform.
However, this original definition does not fit with open, decentralized metaverses either.
Decentraland and The Sandbox
MCC explicitly mentioned Decentraland and The Sandbox, which are platforms that are not accessed by immersive virtual reality devices and they are essentially 3D online games in which, however, one does not just play games.
That is, to be true metaverses in the original meaning of the term Decentraland and The Sandbox should be immersive and universal, whereas to date they are not.
It should be added, however, that over time the meaning commonly associated with the word “metaverse” has changed, and in common parlance, it is no longer merely a universal and immersive virtual world. Even Treccani states that by now the concepts of virtual reality and augmented reality have been surpassed as far as this concept is concerned, making room instead for interoperability between worlds and platforms. Treccani itself cites a new definition in which the metaverse is the universe built through global communication networks that finds among its specific fields of application in gaming and entertainment.
The latter definition, not original but “vernacular,” would include both Meta’s metaverse and Decentraland and The Sandbox, but it is by all means a much more mundane concept than Stephenson’s original idea.
MCC, however, raises a real problem in its report that goes far beyond mere linguistic definitions: Decentraland and The Sandbox have very few users.
The use of Decentraland
Since it is a blockchain-based platform, Decentraland’s usage data is public.
DappRadar reveals that in the past 30 days, a total of only 957 different wallets have interacted with the platform, generating less than 4,000 transactions, for a total volume of less than $42,000.
This is an average of only 32 different wallets per day, with a daily in-app trade volume of less than $1,500.
Just to have a yardstick for comparison, in the last 24 hours the trade volume on DEX Uniswap was over $870 million, that on Curve over $150 million, and that on PancakeSwap almost $140 million. The fourth largest DEX by volume at this time, Canto, also touched $130 million yesterday, giving a good idea of the gulf there is compared to Decentraland.
Also according to DappRadar’s data, over the past twelve months, the average daily number of active wallets on Decentraland has more than halved, with the number of daily transactions dropping from around 300 to less than 100 in recent days.
It is, therefore, a platform that is currently so far from being considered universal that it has little chance of becoming so. Instead, it is an ultra-niche tool that is not even growing in terms of usage.
The crypto MANA
It is no coincidence that the price of Decentraland’s native token, MANA, is still -87 percent from its 2021 highs.
MANA debuted in the crypto markets in November 2017, at the height of the bubble, and at a price of less than a penny.
By December 2020, before the start of the last big bull run, it had risen to nearly 10 cents, increasing its value tenfold in three years.
During the last big bull run, its price took off, first reaching close to $1.5 in May, and then even surpassing $5.8 in November.
Compared to December of the previous year it marked a hopeful +5.700 percent.
since then the price has since collapsed to $0.30 in December 2022.
However, the current price of $0.7 is still much higher than the pre-bubble price.
Only slightly less than half of the price reached in May 2021 after the first phase of the rise of the last big bull run.
In other words, the current price only disfigures when compared with the all-time high.
Because net of the 2021 bubble it is a decidedly high price compared with its predecessors.
Practically in three years, it has risen from $0.01 to $0.10, and in the next two years, it rose to $0.70 after first spiking to $5.8 and then collapsing to $0.30.
This dynamic seems to reveal that crypto markets care little that Decentraland is an ultra-niche platform.
It may have no chance of becoming a universal metaverse. So on the one hand there are linguistic definitions, more or less correct, while on the other hand, there is a market.
Does not seem to care about such definitions.