What’s going on in the metaverse these days, you might ask. Looking at two of the biggest companies with over $1 billion valuations, one data point suggests that users may not be returning every day. According to data aggregator DappRadar, the Ethereum-based virtual world Decentraland had 38 “active users” in the past 24 hours, while competitor The Sandbox had 522 “active users” in that same time.
It’s important to note that an active user, according to DappRadar, is defined as a unique wallet address’ interaction with the platform’s smart contract. For example, logging onto The Sandbox or Decentraland to make a purchase with SAND or MANA, each platform’s respective native utility token, is counted as an “active use.”
This means that DappRadar’s compilation of daily "active users" doesn’t count people who simply log in and interact with other users on a metaverse platform or drop in briefly for an event, such as a virtual fashion week. It also may mean that fewer transactions, like buying or selling a non-fungible token (NFT), take place on these platforms than the number of people that visit.
The largest number of daily "active users” ever on Decentraland was 675, according to DappRadar. For The Sandbox, that number was larger at about 4,503.
Sam Hamilton, Creative Director at Decentraland, disputed the way DappRadar tracks daily "active users” on the platform. “DappRadar doesn't track our users, only people interacting with our contracts,” he told CoinDesk, adding that the platform had 8,000 users on average per day, though he did not specify what makes an “active use” versus a more passive interaction. He noted that while Decentraland saw peak attendees in March, the number of “tourists and spectators” has since cooled down. “We are finding the core community of people returning every day is growing.”
According to Hamilton, the number of users on Decentraland can be more accurately observed by looking at a dashboard built by the platform’s community. The data measures "unique visitors per day" and looks at different periods of time between 7, 14, 30 and 90 days. From Oct. 3-9, the platform averaged 6,999 “unique visitors per day.” The same data tool measures the number of “parcels visited per day” and “marathon users,” which it defines as users with the most online time.
Following the publication of this article, Decentraland tweeted that it saw "1,074 users interacting with smart contracts" in September. It also logged 56,697 "monthly active users,” noting that the Decentraland Foundation’s definition of an “active user” is “people who login and then move out of a parcel.” It added that “there might be discrepancies between DCL Metrics and Foundation data.”
The Sandbox also disputed the metrics used by DappRadar to measure daily active users on its platform. CEO and co-founder Arthur Madrid told CoinDesk that DappRadar’s metric only reflects transactions between users or a primary NFT sale and not other forms of meaningful engagement. In addition, he said that The Sandbox measures active users by looking at a number of metrics, including their usage over time and retention.
“An 'active user' is a user that connects over a period of time,” he explained. “A daily 'active user' is someone that connects at least once a day."
“Imagine you only track the number of people paying for something at a cashier at a shopping mall,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of passerbys.”
In a follow-up tweet, Madrid said that measuring on-chain transactions does not capture the number of users on the platform.
DappRadar did not respond to a request for comment on whether its metrics more accurately reflect daily active users on Decentraland and The Sandbox.
Although the metaverse may be enough of a buzzword for companies to rebrand their names around its concept, some say mass adoption may still take a while.
Sasha Fleyshman, portfolio manager at digital asset investment firm Arca, told CoinDesk that metaverse platforms will be much more valuable to users when they actually operate as intended.
“Anyone telling you that there's a metaverse today that has worked is lying through their teeth,” said Fleyshman.
Beverage company Snapple’s pop-up bodega in Decentraland last August sparked questions about mainstream use cases for promotional content in the metaverse. In July, skater Tony Hawk announced his virtual skatepark paired with an avatar collection in The Sandbox, which aims to bring fans from his $1.4 billion “Tony Hawk Pro Skater” video game to a new, more interactive platform. Set to run from October 19 to 23, the turnout of virtual skaters may be larger than the users purchasing Hawk’s NFTs in SAND.
“In my opinion, we're leaning towards a lack of product-market fit on that side … irrespective of their valuation,” said Fleyshman.
UPDATE (Oct. 10, 20:17 UTC): Adds context, further details and comments from Decentraland and Sandbox teams throughout.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.