The journey to develop a brand new, decentralized virtual world, all on the blockchain, was never going to be an easy task. However, over the last 12 months or so we have really started to see the Decentraland product finally turn into an experience which is close to resembling some of the initial plans set out in the whitepaper around 3-4 years ago.
New builds are flying up each day on private land built by private investors, more entrepreneurs and content creators are getting involved, and just the overall playability and graphics have really started to come together.
However, behind all this progress lies a large group of forgotten purple giants, which, for the most part, are struggling to get any momentum…and they’re failing. That reference is to Decentraland districts, which account for around a third of the entire Decentraland map.
Information about these private, community driven projects is extremely limited. In fact, apart from the small section we have here at NFT Plazas on the districts, very little information is publicly available. You have to dig a little deeper into the community to find out what’s going on. So, that’s what we did after noticing a new trend of district leaders selling their land on various marketplaces.
After a long period of district leaders having had their land locked up in a contract, in January 2021 that contract expired, with the idea being that by now districts would have built something of value.
The reality is, most (not all) are still in disarray, desolate, and have done nothing for years.
Now, dramatic increases in the value of MANA, and a lack of progress/personal ability/skills/effort has resulted in some of the smaller, more disorganized districts starting to sell up to private investors and move on.
You might feel it unfair that these district leaders, who have seemingly sat twiddling their thumbs for a few years, now get rewarded with 6 figure ($) payouts for having done nothing to help Decentraland succeed and get to the point where it is today. I know we did. But there are always two sides to every story. As such, we reached out to a district leader who is selling up, for his story.
You can find that interview published below and draw your own conclusions. Enjoy.
Q: Can you tell us a little about you and how you came to become a district leader?
A: I have been in the crypto community since 2012 and I always knew that crypto would be a big deal in the gaming community and I even tried at one point to buy the rights to a game project to integrate crypto into it. I still own the game but could never get the help that I needed to complete it. I even got to the point of being an actual partner with the Flux Gaming Token company and had agreements signed with them but they eventually ran out of money and never completed the project so I was brought back to square one again at that point.
Due to the other let downs I have had in my project I knew I should have a backup plan which was when I discovered Decentraland and I was able to get in at the beginning and was able to propose the idea I had for a district.
The initial idea for the district was for it to be a decentralized sovereign city-state called Star City but that was later turned into the Game Junction District due to lack of interest from the community and being told by the Decentraland team that it wouldn’t work and they didn’t want it to be tied to the Decentraland name. I suppose they felt it was to radical of an idea and couldn’t understand how it would work which is actually quite ironic considering just a few years ago that’s exactly what so many people said about Bitcoin and all of the other cryptocurrencies because they didn’t understand it or how it works so they immediately dismissed it.
So, with no ability to raise funding to do anything with the district, I switched course and turned it into a gaming district which hosted a few games on it. I partnered with a NFT producer called MetaZone to put their CoronaZombies game onto the district and shortly after the initial event that was held at the district that gained a lot of foot traffic inside the district the Decentraland team announced they were hosting a Gaming plaza that would also have CoronaZombies hosted on it. I then contacted the Decentraland team and was told that they had already been planning to do this before my district launched it and whether or not that is true, it’s just concerning to me that it just happened to be announced literally within a week or so after the event was held.
Knowing the Decentraland team has a lot of funds for promotion and already has a large audience it is obvious that my district would be unable to compete with that. I later brainstormed other ideas I could do and even came up with a unique game concept and found a team who said they could help make it happen and was willing to work on it for a cut of the funds raised from it, but later went silent and didn’t hear from them for months.
Which is why, after all of this time of trying to make this district work, I finally came to the realization that no matter what I do I won’t be able to see it through because it would require either upfront money that I don’t have or to trust someone to be there to help with the project which has proven to not work after several different developer teams commit and then drop out when it comes time to actually start the work.
Q: What challenges have you faced as a district leader over the last 3 years?
A: I have faced several different issues over the last 3 years such as lack of funding, transparency issues between the District Leaders and the DCL team, and dealing with people who agree to help work on the district then not follow through with it.
Q: How could the districts have been better supported by Decentraland?
A: The DCL team should have had clearer information about how the district setup would be. At one point the contributors were taken back by the announcement that their contributions are only considered donations which wasn’t known by the contributors until after they had contributed.
They should have set aside a fund for all of the districts to be able to support their projects much earlier, whether it be in MANA or ETH or another crypto, so that the districts wouldn’t run into the issues I faced which was not being able to build the district. That’s why there are a bunch of empty districts right now because they have no funding or ability to develop their projects.
Q: Why have you now decided to sell your district land?
A: I decided to sell the district land since I have no more money to put into the development and I would prefer to not let the land just sit there.
Also, I want to give the verified contributors a large amount of money for their contributions, even though it is considered a donation, but I don’t feel it would be fair for me to sell the district and not give the contributors their share of the sale price since they believed in me and my project so I want to return the favor to them for being there to support my project.
Q: How much do you hope to raise for the sale of your land, and what do you plan to do with the $ raised?
A: I am hoping to sell the remaining 23 parcels of land for the current listed price of 276,000 MANA (12,000 MANA per parcel) or the highest bid. The link to the Decentraland Marketplace listing for the district is here.
I plan to share the funds with the contributors. I am also going to look into revamping my initial crypto game project by asking the contributors if they would be willing to use part or all of their portion of the funds to invest in the game.
Q: What do you think about the recent sell off of district land from other district leaders?
A: I believe it was bound to happen because of the issues I faced where I knew there were going to be other district leaders who would end up with the same issues I did, so it was obviously going to happen to them as well if they don’t have the resources to do anything else.
Q: Is there nothing in place to stop district leaders selling their district?
A: The only thing that kept district leaders from selling was the 2 year lock up contract which has now expired so the district leaders can now have the land sent to them and then sell.
Q: What is the biggest issue with Decentraland at the moment?
A: Abandoned land, no resources for district leaders to build and promote their projects, and people buying and selling land and not doing anything with it. Land, just like any other crypto asset, was meant to have a use and not just be bought and sold off of hype and speculation.
Bitcoin was supposed to be a currency but now it’s become the same thing as gold is or a stock where people just buy and sell it to make money instead of using it as money. It’s almost the same thing with Land where it was supposed to be used to develop and have fun with and not a commodity that’s bought and sold based on hype and speculation. That’s why there is so much unused land because the buyers are only buying it to resell and not actually do anything with it.
Q: What do you love about Decentraland at the moment?
A: I love that it is a decentralized game that is owned and controlled by the players.
Q: How does the future of Decentraland look to you?
A: I don’t really know yet. I see a couple of different scenarios that could play out which is either the game becomes barren with hardly any people actually playing because everyone is just here to buy and sell land, or it could start to settle down with all of the buying and selling and people may actually start doing something with their land instead of listing it up for sale.
It was always expected that districts would run autonomously, and given these freedoms, would be successful in their own rights. Unfortunately, apart from a handful of districts who are making good progress, the majority needed more support, sooner, from Decentraland.
There is now a DAO funds overflowing with millions of dollars for those who want to apply for help in progressing their own creative oasis, but after years of being ignored by Decentraland, it looks like it’s too little, too late for this group of brow-beaten district leaders. You can expect more districts selling up their land to high-net worth investors in the not too distant future, I feel.
How about you?
If you think you could make a good job of building out your own district, and have the resources and skills to do so, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org who we interviewed in this article for more information on the district land he has available for sale.
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