We've heard the term "dead game (opens in new tab)" before. It's an inflammatory way to judge live service games for losing players, even in circumstances when they measurably have hundreds of thousands of players. But what do you call a metaverse that has a low player count? A "dead metaverse?" A "metacrypt?"
Last week blockchain analytics firm DappRadar reported that Ethereum-based metaverse Decentraland (opens in new tab) only had daily 38 active users with a peak of only 657 active users, numbers that would surely inspire some "dead metaverse" discourse. Decentraland, which is valued at over a billion dollars, pushed back on that reporting, saying its daily users are actually in the high thousands, thank you very much.
Decentraland took to Twitter to refute the reporting, saying, "some websites are tracking only specific smart contract transactions but reporting them as daily active users DAU, which is inaccurate." The company posted its September user data showing a monthly active user count of 56,697 users.
Let's have a look at some of September's data:56,697 MAU1,074 Users interacting with smart contracts1,732 minted Emotes6,315 sold Wearables300 Creators received royalties161 created Community Events 148 DAO ProposalsOctober 7, 2022
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Decentraland creative director Sam Hamilton told CoinDesk, "DappRadar doesn't track our users, only people interacting with our contracts." This means that the 38-player figure only counted users performing some sort of transaction on the blockchain, not anyone who logged in to chat with friends or play games.
"Imagine you only track the number of people paying for something at a cashier at a shopping mall,” he told Coindesk. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of passerbys."
According to DCL Metrics (a platform created by Decentraland to report user data, so take it with a grain of salt), the sandbox gets an average of 7,091 visitors per day over a 30-day period. That's not what you get when you divide the monthly user count of 56,967 by 30 days, but Decentraland says we should "embark on a little mental arithmetic journey" on its blog to explain how it got to 7,091.
"You might at first divide 56,697, the number of September’s MAU by 30 and come back with the number 1,866. 'That’s not 8k DAU!,' you scoff to yourself. But wait—1,866 would be the number of DAU if every one of those 56,697 unique individuals only visited Decentraland once in the month of September, and that’s not what’s happening."
Decentraland continues by saying that "a large number of Decentraland’s users are repeat visitors; they are the Decentraland community and spend time on the platform on a regular basis."
DappRadar admitted in this blog post (opens in new tab) that it doesn't measure any activity outside of the blockchain ecosystem and is now working with the Decentraland team to report more accurate user metrics.
Considering the big financial investments some companies have made into Decentraland, especially in virtual real estate (opens in new tab), you can imagine how the company would want to make sure the world knows that its virtual world has more than 38 people hanging around.