Updated: Jan 2
As we wrap up the year, I can’t help relive the ride so far - the literal roller-coaster. We began with a bang - crashing servers with unprecedented hyper-growth. We navigated the Dark Ages of Earth2 - as scamtubers ran amok, made worse by the communication issues Earth2 had. We came back from all that only to close out the year with the same excitement that we started it with . A journey truly shared by the entire Earth 2 community, as I reach out to congratulate everyone that held out!
I also congratulate the entire Earth 2 team, who faced similar and more challenges but continued to push to make things happen. It's not easy to take all that scam calling and criticism not just from the ignorant 'influencers', but also sometimes from your own community. Of course a lot of it could have been avoided with better communication and managing expectations, but nevertheless. If these set of problems were not enough, Earth 2 had to deal with core team attrition, advisors that didn't work out, delays in releases, and a lot of rework. As they traversed these challenges, hopefully it helped them gain valuable experience, for the Metaverse journey has only started.
The Earth2 Timeline
We can see how the story has evolved by taking a look at the Earth2 timeline below. It would be difficult to capture all the events, but I made an attempt to capture the major milestones that probably had the most impact along the way in Earth2's journey so far.
There were several events, feature upgrades, announcements, community action that became a part of the Earth 2 experience.
The 'Early Days'' saw a ton of activity as Earth 2 went viral thanks in-part to Tik-Tok. Popular landmarks and Class-1 land in some top countries all claimed by late Dec 2020, even as users scrambled to be let in the website. I had to wait some days to purchase my first property which I did on Jan 6th. The unexpected hypergrowth led to some other teething troubles as well - withdrawal backlogs, non-existent support, unoptimized marketplace which even resulted in some pump-and-dumps. On the flip side, these were also the days where you could just wake up and be spoilt for choice with Class-1 land available in at least a hundred countries!
The 'Land Rush' only intensified as more users piled on. Soon the clamor was for 'When Dubai?' to which we saw the shortest announcement ever from Shane, it read 'Soon'.
The same day Earth 2 would add 'Shoon' to its lexicon, even as an NFT would be created later to mark the sequence of events that led to it.
A minor but noticeable hiccup would follow soon - Paypal was gone! However, the credit cards worked so all was good soon. Earth2 crossed 250K users within 4 short months of its launch. Megacities and Tile-art proliferated as users lapped up millions of land tiles; even I would hop on the bandwagon to launch as many as two megacities - Wakanda and Asgard within Earth2 and Toba launched Tian. Also ended up doing 35k+ tiles worth of Tile-art, including for many E2 friends. Even launched a guild - Singularity - some amazing projects and creators came together.
With so much happening around and with the Earth2 website still in a nascent stage, there was an information gap due to a lack of tools on the main site. Then there was also a need within the active set of players to stay updated in real time, to stay ahead in the game. Soon we saw community driven portals spring up - stats, marketplace (with filters), news websites. E2 News was born from one such idea - Earth2's first dedicated news site to keep the community informed and at the same time be a platform for independent views. Several community members wrote for E2 News and continue to do so.
Come mid-Feb, Earth2 would soon drop its Terrain video in 4K detail, offering a real-time render view of the Phase-3 game engine. More features were added around this time like Heatmap, Faster payouts via card withdrawal and the Ad-system.
As Earth2's popularity rose Earth2 climbed to become a top 5000 website worldwide back in March 2021. The community thought Earth 2 was going to be the story of the decade. The leaderboard began to surge. Things were heating up in the virtual land economy. Even mainstream media started covering virtual land. On Earth 2, the much awaited UAE/Dubai release was here. Even as servers crashed expectedly, E2 would sell almost $2m land within 24 hours and set a record of sorts.
The 5CA partnership was announced soon which strengthened Earth 2's support. Some weird things would happen as well, like tiles disappearing from stats. An odd incident involving alleged racism blew up within the Earth2 community and we discussed whether we dare dream that the Metaverse could be a better place? Soon Earth 2 announced its first Easter Egg Hunt. E2News announced its own Easter fest 'The Osterfest'. Things were going great - the Vatican even sold for $50k - Earth 2's then biggest ever transaction, which was only surpassed by Statue of Liberty sold in July for $65k.
What goes up must come down - The Dark Ages Phase
After the initial land buying frenzy simmered down, we wondered what next - does Earth2 have a roadmap, is the competition going to stroll ahead, how will it match up to bigger players when they come, and more importantly does Earth 2 have the right team set-up and a strong execution culture. The slowdown led to all kinds of questions, but, the Koreans had other thoughts and they came to the party pumping in huge capital. Frankly if it wasn't for them it would have had been harder to keep the marketplace spirits up.
Around this time Earth2 would witness a co-ordinated attack from Scamtubers. Earth2 was not new to allegations of being a 'ponzi' or a 'scam', but the scamtuber attacks were significant due to the high follower numbers, back-to-back videos by multiple youtubers who claimed to be 'gaming critics' and wanted to save gamers from the 'Earth 2 scam'. Earth 2 released its 'Physics video', which also got attacked, primarily due to borrowed assets used in the demo. E2 devs argued that the video's intention was to showcase the physics rather the assets. Meanwhile, Earth 2 community content creators kept the spirits up - with Oliver Jones Music releasing his hit single 'Buy Tiles', which also went on to become the first Music NFT on Earth2.
Earth2 desperately needed good PR at this time, they hired Vicarious PR. Some weird advice ensued asking Earth2 devs to limit their communication with the community which really didn't help, especially in light of the timeline delays pertaining to Phase-2. While Earth 2 was quietly working in the background on their blockchain plans and the best partnerships they could secure, it led to execution delays which they failed to communicate effectively with the users. The impatience grew within the community even as some community members appealed to exercise patience. After just 3 months Earth2 and Vicarious parted ways.
On a positive note, Earth2 website migrated to the React Framework (from Riot earlier) even as bugs continued to haunt the update releases. In the meantime, Earth2 released some additional key features - Holo-buildings, Jewels, Mentars, Ether, and Essence. These features will go on to become the foundation of the Earth2's eco-sim. The impatience though continued to grow. With no current usability in sight and player's jewel pages running into hundreds, the bears started to dump Jewels and hammer their prices. Jewels would eventually reach a nadir of 5 cents. Earth2 released another feature at this point - the much delayed EPL. But without any real follow-up on previously released features the question was whether Earth2 was reading the room.
The E$/Essence Pair: The E$ only option to purchase EPLs further enraged some users, especially after they had bought Mentars to collect Essence early-on in the hope of using to purchase EPL with Essence. However Shane was of the view that Essence value may appreciate significantly in future and therefore only the E$ option was available. The users weren't happy and eventually EPLs were priced both in E$ as well as Essence. This created an implied value of Essence.
The Metaverse received a shot in the arm when Facebook announced its restructuring and that Facebook's parent would be called 'Meta', to emphasize its focus on the Metaverse. This event brought a lot of attention to existing Metaverse projects including Earth2. Listed tokens of other Metaverse projects like $SAND (Sandbox) and $MANA (Decentraland) among others shot up 400%-500%+.
Incidentally, Earth 2 entered its anniversary month around this time and was preparing to make its own set of announcements. It started with releasing Israel without a countdown or prior announcement. While some users made a fortune, others were left high and dry (esp. the Korean community due to their time-zone) and we wondered if this was the best way to go. Shane promised to make good to those who missed by releasing additional countries in next few days and Earth 2 released 2 new countries (Iran and Iraq) and unlocked one more. Iraq could only be purchased by users who had not got new land in one of the earlier releases.
Soon, Jewel crafting went live and Jewel prices shot up more than 4 times than before the announcement - users obviously were happy. Additionally crafting some Tier-2 Jewels allowed to massively boost up Ether production which in turn improved Essence collection.
The Dip and the Bounce-back:- As sentiment remained high, in came a shocker, Wolfgang was leaving Earth 2! Soon Nathaniel and Thomas would leave for other opportunities. However the end of November/ early December Earth 2 announcements made these exits look like a non-event. Essence was confirmed as the crypto. Not only that, users were also rewarded retrospectively for holding properties via an Essence drop. Over 250M essence was set aside by Earth2 towards its Essence Distribution Commitment (EDC).
The announcement also included Tiering of land, and only Tier-1 land had the promise of Essence. The marketplace was frozen to allow users to remove their listings and subsequently reopened after a 14-day hiatus. When the marketplace opened, massive chunks of Tier-1 land traded hands even as Tier-2 land in top countries surged. We wondered if Shane had made us rich already, even as he went on to share his vision in a free-wheeling interview at the 'Enter the Metaverse' event.
To top it all, Earth 2 announces its partnership with Polygon Studios. The blockchain integration of Earth2 assets present and future, combined with Essence as the crypto heralds the making of Earth2 millionaires. Earth2 adds an Earth2 property gifting feature just in time for the holidays.
Finally Earth 2 announced its acquisition of D.R.O.N.E., which was already guessed by Earth2 community since several months. Drama ensued in D.R.O.N.E. community as they did not welcome the Earth2 acquisition for their own reasons. D.R.O.N.E. will kickstart PvP on Earth 2, however the technology it brings could be valuable for overall Phase-3 development. Additionally D.R.O.N.E.'s development team which came in as part of the acquisition helps augment Earth2 efforts in light of recent dev exits. Earth2 wraps up 2021 by announcing Omar Rahim (a former Senior Binance Director) as a strategic advisor
Road to 2022 - Known elements
From recent announcements, we could expect quite some releases and updates in early 2022. The list includes - High level Roadmap, a whitepaper on Essence and related tokenomics, release of Resources, listing of Essence on a major exchange(s), road to Decentralization, PvP/ Gameplay starting with D.R.O.N.E., Physical E2 Mastercard, more Jewel Crafting, enabling Crypto Deposits.
As far as E2.News is concerned, we will continue to keep you updated, even as we look forward to add valuable features on the platform to enrich your Metaverse experience
Wishing the E2 family a very happy new year
Finally, I would like to wish everyone I have met on Earth2 a very prosperous 2022! It's been a truly enriching experience and I'm grateful for that.