This remarkable article is the opinion of Catalin only, and does not represent those of E2News. Feel free to write a comment with your view.
The ship hasn't sailed yet, but the wind is blowing.
It's been a long time since we've seen any game development. We are stuck with trading properties at ridiculously high discounts and buying new land either for imaginary cities, or because big players do so, or because bugs make it possible for some countries to have the price changed from International Territory to E$0.1 / tile. But nothing more.
We have a resource panel on the grid and we know there's a blockchain project ready to launch, but no details that we can actually use.
But is it bad?
Current community concerns are valid considering the level of information available about Earth2's project status and roadmap. The wind that is pushing the boat right now is a communication issue rather than a doubt-removing issue.
People's emotions are complex and burst on a very basic set of filters. Our primitive prefrontal cortex often loses the battle with the limbic system like, for example, when we're jogging and suddenly a branch appears in the grass and instead of "Hey, what is that? Is it a snake? Is it a branch? Is it something else? Let me see." we go "OMFG, a snake! let's go!" and run or jump aside pumped with cortisol and adrenaline.
Earth2 was born on an idea and an opportunity.
The idea is to create a metaverse, a simulation of the entire world. The opportunity is the current increased interest of the public in blockchain, crypto, investment instruments (forex, options trading), NFTs, virtual land, AR/VR emerging markets.
Taking these into consideration, the Australian startup created a unique mechanism of raising funds without even wanting to. It is the first layer of user interaction with the idea, based on the opportunity. It is a website that, iteration after iteration, in terms of content and functionalities, cover the following:
Value proposition - Earth2 is amazing, Matrix & Ready Player one, investment opportunity, Buy landmarks, Consider resources, Land, Land, Land, You can make profits, Join Earth2.
Terms and conditions - Legal terms
Virtual land purchasing application where users can:
Explore the World Map
Create an account
Select a maximum of 750 tiles
View the total price they need to pay to purchase the land selected
Add Credits to the account (one credit = $1)
Purchase the land selected using the available credit or paying directly for it without going through depositing credits
An incentive mechanism for players who refer other players to join the platform and buy land
A profit share incentive mechanism for players to receive a small amount of the profits Earth2 is making on the new land sales
A marketplace option for players to buy and sell properties between them
A KYC process for compliance, in respect to money management, money laundering, and terrorism funding legislation and regulation
A withdrawal option for the available Credits (via credit card and after KYC was completed)
A ticketing system using Zendesk and 5CA.
This is the first layer of User Experience and interaction with the Earth2 idea.
If removed from context, the limbic system of most people will trigger fear and anxiety when nothing more is happening on the platform, mostly because the crypto bubble produced many ICO scams where hundreds of millions were lost.
Once the machinery was online and people started to buy virtual land, word of mouth spread so fast it crashed the servers. Earth2 didn't expect that. They were in pre Alpha with no bug fixing even started as a phase.
Now, to explain the rapid growth (Shane won't like this):
The way Earth2 built the land pricing system, created an instant FOMO effect on people interacting with the platform. More accurately, for each country, the price increases exponentially with every 300 tiles sold.
What does this mean?
It means that if the initial price of a country is $0.1 for 1 Tile, after 160.000 tiles sold, the price would reach $0.5 for 1 Tile.
It will then take only 70.000 tiles for the price to reach $1.
Over 40 Million tiles were sold in 250 countries to date, most of it in the first 6 weeks after the website was live.
Being launched in November 2020, the platform overlapped with the bull market FOMO in Options Trading. So during the crazy days with Option Trading, a new (apparently) bullish trading opportunity emerged: The platform where you buy virtual land and price just soars for each country because of the new land buying and, on top of that, you receive a part of the revenue the platform makes from selling new land.
Only a small segment of users decided based on the idea and not only on the opportunity. This small group of people is the core target of Earth2, the defenders of the idea, the patient, long-term investors who can wait no matter how long for the whole thing to develop.
When and why did the wind start blowing, and why has the ship began to sail?
First of all, when prices reached common psychological levels, each group of users resonating with each level stopped buying new tiles. Because no new users were onboarding (Earth2 doesn't yet run any marketing campaign), the buying stopped.
What was left? Selling. Users started selling some of their properties to other users for profits (but at huge discount levels) and either withdraw the profits, or buy new land to complete their strategy of being present in major megacities (places on the map where players got together to buy in the same areas). This is the first moment(s) when wind stopped blowing.
It was shortly followed by the second slow-down phase when marketplace activity also slowed down. The reasons for this are complex, but in simple terms: the amount of time without Earth2 releasing or clearly explaining their short-term plans with the community gave the community the space to doubt some aspects of the idea:
Are they capable of delivering?
Will they manage to release functionalities without bugs?
Are they just saying this to distract us from serious problems they have with scaling?
Do they have what it takes to accelerate growth, considering the cash in?
Is there really a game being developed?
Are they skilled enough to keep up with big companies also playing in the "metaverse / 3D rendering / AR/VR" market?
Of course, the heavy guns of gaming experts and streamers started a campaign highlighting only the negative conclusions based on assumptions (their own or random users from the community).
This is a snowball with many implications that require proper action (even though Earth2 didn't yet release an End-To-End product).
Why the amount of time without a (public) concrete short-term plan?
One of the reasons is the workload and rhythm they're having.
To explain this, I'll split "what they should do" in two parts:
- Communicate their plan to the community so the community understands and decides on what to do next based on information, and not assumptions
- Implement the Communication in their own channels to have coherence and structure, and to protect themselves from bad press
The first part, "Communicate their plan to the community" - this sounds simple to many. I mean, how hard is it to write an announcement with features and timelines for the next 2-3 months?
Well, it's not that easy. First of all, revealing features of the economic model for example (resources, how they work, and so on) could create imbalances in users' activity. The features that can be revealed are first of all decided and tested in the End-To-End aspect of the gameplay. It must be formulated in a way to not bring disadvantages to some groups of players.
Second, the way it is communicated must fit a communication strategy and must follow pre-defined guidelines (from a brand perspective and from a compliance perspective). If you take any big brand (game or not), the way things appear to sound like or to reveal things, or to pop in Facebook or Twitter or to be shared by influencers and niche publications you will find out that there's a strong communication strategy behind, that everything is well thought though, structured, planned, and executed.
The second part, "Implement the Communication Plan" - also sounds simple. I mean, how hard is it to change the text on a website or install WordPress and start a blog where you post stuff?
Well, this is also a delicate aspect and must be approached "Strategy first". Why? Because if the content is decided (features, timelines etc.), the way everything it's executed must fit / make sense in the long run. There is also everything related to PR (events for reveals, devs invited in interviews, dev streams etc.) and some Marketing issues related to user profile, tone of voice, channel for engagement, how is content structured in the website, SEO details for the content to be properly indexed by search engines and so on.
The argument for this point is exactly the defamation campaign that YouTubers started some weeks ago. The way content is created, structured, planned, and delivered on the existing channels (Website, Discord, Facebook, Twitter) generated the movement and in some cases divided the community. They worked with what was available, and what was available was not well thought, not clearly structured, not properly executed content strategy.
Not having everything professionally planned and executed, all you have is a personal project for which you created a website putting in the best effort you had at the time. Or, just a website with a Discord and Twitter some dudes built.
The Earth2 Opportunity
While the community is reflecting the current state of Earth2 as "in doubt" and defamatory users jump in the conversations and create content based on assumptions (their own or from random users), a team of advisors and developers work around the clock to:
- improve customer service
- update the platform to a more performant one in terms of CI/CD
- build the in-game economy simulation for the in-browser game
- build the resource tree needed to support the in-game economy simulation
- implement blockchain to fuel transaction transparency, decentralize the monetary component of the game and create the foundation for a solid and stable financial ecosystem
- develop a unique terrain system based on Unity that will be used in the final phase of the project and that will be the real foundation for the metaverse the team imagines
We're talking of lead developers with a track record in the gaming industry.
So, this is a project with huge potential, in a very early state, worth investing in, even if that means buying little squares on a Google map. Joking, there's no Google map in Earth2.
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