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Decentraland VS High Fidelity | A Side by Side Comparison

Decentraland have been unique to their approach in building a Metaverse through Blockchain and VR but there is another that has a strong chance at building the Metaverse.

Second Life.

I don’t want to bash these two together in this article in a traditional, ‘what’s better’, type article but more highlight how each have progressed in the below categories and what lessons we can learn from both.

If there ever will be a large enough Metaverse run on Virtual Reality to rival the real word, it will be built by learning from each others successes and failures. This is no time for tribalism.

Lastly, shoutout to DCL PLaza’s for also covering a comparison article on both High Fidelity and Decentraland. There are a lot of technical aspects of both worlds covered so in the above article so I will skip that part in my analysis.

Good luck to both. Let’s get started.

Bare Bones Concept & World Layout

Decentraland

Decentraland aims to be a “Virtual World owned by it’s users”. Having Virtual Reality, Web Browser support and even mobile support (through HTC), you will be able to explore the world within the 90,601 land units managed on the Ethereum Blockchain.

Land in Decentraland is limited in an attempt to create scarcity and a cluster of content users can simply enter and explore. Here is a birds eye view of the whole map.

Each pixel, (land), is an ERC-721 token that represents 16x16m of Virtual land space.

Purple areas are ‘Districts’ or projects committed to building experiences in Decentraland whereas you can simply own one of the 43,689 private lands, (dark grey), where you can build whatever you want within the dimensions and poly limits.

The above map image was taken from the marketplace where light blue are lands for sale. Red are lands owned by whoever is logged in at the time, (me), green are ‘Genesis Plaza’s’ or land owned by Decentraland to host events, competitions etc and light grey being road networks.

With 301 units in length and width, the world spans approximately 4.8km’s wide and 4.8km’s long. Large enough to host a variety of content.

Each private land’s ownership is managed by the Ethereum blockchain. Governance is also managed by voting using MANA tokens also on the blockchain.

Decentraland are still at very early stages and are aiming to release their beta client by Q2 this year. Hopefully, just around the corner.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity’s vision for the Metaverse is a “a decentralized network of virtual worlds created and controlled by users.’ Sounds similar to Decentraland but there are some stark differences.

Virtual worlds are built and ‘deployed’ on the social virtual reality platform for users to explore and interact together in.

You can simply enter the platform and choose where you want to go. These experiences aren’t next to each other, each operate on seperate servers. Unlike Decentraland where everyone shares the same large world. Each world/experience creator hosts their own world on their own server, in their own space.

For example if we visit user ‘1029chris’s build, (from Decentraland Discord), in High Fidelity we can simply visit hifi://DuckPond.

And we get,

Zoom out to,

He’s world is 1km x 1.7km’s big!

I will cover more aspects of world building in High Fidelity later.

Token/Economy

Decentraland

Decentraland have a dedicated ERC-20 Ethereum token called ‘MANA’.

MANA is currently used to buy LAND on the Decentraland Marketplace.

MANA is a cryptocurrency that can be purchased on any of the major exchanges such as Bittrex, Binance, Bitfinex, Huobi and even Coinbase!

MANA price currently sits at ~$0.05 and has fluctuated from ~0.024 during ICO to ~$0.026 during all time high.

According to an article by theblockcrypto, the LAND market has transacted millions of dollars worth of Digital land.

This month alone, Decentraland have transacted about $500,000 USD and 9Million MANA worth of LAND! Market history data can be seen here.

With September of 2018 being their highest at $1.5M in MANA spent.

The highest price paid for a single piece of land stands at ~$175,000 USD!

The current economy is predominantly contributed to by the Land market as the world is still not open yet. People are buying their preferred piece of land so their projects can get the most traffic.

 

High Fidelity

High Fidelity have their very own stable coin, HFC, (High Fidelity Coin). 100 HFC is equal to $1 USD. You will need to book an appointment with the High Fidelity bank where you can trade your Ethereum for HFC.

The currency is used to buy and sell scripts, limited edition and scarce items built and certified on the blockchain.

You can visit the marketplace and browse all kinds of items for sale.

Here’s a pretty cool Informercial channel type video selling digital items through the marketplace!

I couldn’t find more information on the economy of High Fidelity. In terms of daily transaction history, highest items sold, etc so if anyone can add to this please contact me and I’ll add it here.

Funding/Investors

It’s always a good idea to check out the momentum behind these projects to give us an idea of how likely they are to deliver. The last thing you want is a world you’ve invested so much time and money in closing shop because they can’t afford to keep moving forward.

Decentraland

Decentraland held an ICO, (Initial Coin Offering), in August 2017 that raised ~$24M USD within 5 minutes! (Closer to 30 seconds).

With some strong institutional investors such as DCG/Grayscale who own 1% of the circulating supply of Bitcoin. They’ve gone one step further and created a fund called Metaverse Ventures to support products and services to be build on Decentraland.

Decentraland later went on to hold a ‘LAND auction’ where you could bid on any of the ~43,000 private lands up for grabs.

Over 161 million MANA was spent on 34,356 parcels of LAND during the first auction, amounting to roughly $30 million USD at the time!

The second auction was held in December 2018 where the rest of the 9,331 parcels were sold for a collective 110 million MANA, or roughly $6.6 million USD at the time.

All MANA raised for Land was ‘burnt’ and effectively removed from circulation. This reduced supply of the MANA token.

 

High Fidelity

High Fidelity, according to Crunchbase have raised close to $73M by the likes of Vulcan Capital, Blockchain Capital, Breyer Capital and Galaxy Digital.

They ran their first funding round in 2013 which raised $2.3M and since then have run another 5 rounds of funding with their most recent funding at $35 Million in June 2018. 

They have plenty of support from investors to continue to work on the project.

 

Community and Communication

Decentraland

Decentraland are most active on their Discord. They used to be on Rocket chat with ~20,000 members before they switched to Discord.

Currently they have just over 10,000 members on their Discord and are growing steadily.

Discussion Channels are very active on most days. Especially land trading.

They are also very active on Twitter with ~44,400 followers

The Chinese community interested in building the Dragon City and Dragon Kingdom Districts are also quite large with most of them operating on QQ and Wechat. They have 1,000’s of members.

Currently, most communication is done via chat apps and social sites but once the world opens it’s expected that a lot of meetups and announcements will happen in the open world.

The team regularly makes public announcements on their blog to keep the community up to date. The core dev and design team participate in Discord chats every now and then giving their thoughts on any hot topics being discussed for the day.

Esteban, the Development Lead held a Reddit AMA just before the second auction which gives great insight into the future of the project.

Social Summary:

Reddit: 6,200

Twitter: 44,400

Discord: 10,266

YouTube: 1,637

Telegram: 2,671

High Fidelity

High Fidelity is already out unlike Decentraland so people have the option of just joining a server and chatting.

High Fidelity hold weekly ‘General Assembly’ meetings where they have regular community members communicate directly with the leadership team. It’s a GREAT idea and personally, I believe more transparency and open lines of communications are key to build a great backbone community.

Here is their most recent General Assembly video where they announced many new updates.

They still have social media apps which I’ll list below,

Social Summary:

Reddit: 1,400

Twitter: 8,571

YouTube: 3,194

Forum: 6,162

Discord: 213

Current Status and Progress till date

Decentraland

Decentraland have distributed the large majority of lands to owners over the last 2 auctions. There is still a small amount of lands still to be auction off. These are from dissolved districts that discontinued.

The auction date is unknown.

The Land Marketplace allows the purchasing and selling of land.

With the backbone structure mostly in place ready to launch the Beta, the community are patiently waiting for the first version of the world to open. Expected to be before Q2 This year 2019.

The community uses Agora to vote on issues that concern the community as a whole and have recently announced the support for avatars.

They also released an easy to use Drag and Drop builder and held a competition in conjunction with HTC, Bittrex and Coingecko. The competition received over 9,000 submissions and gave away close to $50,000 USD in prizes.

The top 50 winning scenes can be fully explored here.

Decentraland have also partnered with many popular blockchain game companies such as Animoca Brands, Etheremon, Axie Infinity, Chainbreakers, Battle Racers, etc who are also expected to launch their titles in VR on the Platform.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity are much further ahead in their version of a Virtual Metaverse. They have multiple built out areas you can visit by typing in the Hifi address.

You can store your identity on the blockchain, trade items and build immersive worlds on your own servers.

Here are some more beautiful creations,

There are also events you can buy tickets too and participate in which I think is extremely cool and is what VR is all about.

For example, you can visit Nefertari’s Tomb in VR through High Fidelity. You can buy tickets to the event here.

And see all current High Fidelity events on their calendar.

Another content creator, Jason Moore is holding a kickstarter to fund his project, ‘The Metaverse Project’, to build immersive movie scene experiences in VR.

It looks down right EPIC and I think everyone should take a look. This is what VR should be about. 100’s of people creating all kinds of experiences the wider community can participate in and explore the use cases of VR.

You can support his project here.

Blockchain Technology

I for one am very interested in incorporating blockchain in our every day life. The Metaverse allows us to see how Blockchian technology could work in a simulated world.

Digital Identity will be huge. The ability to be identified online with ease by carrying a digital passport via blockchain is a big deal. Not to mention transacting securely between people you have never met or seen before in across the world!

Decentraland

Decentraland holds all MANA and LAND transactions on the Ethereum Blockchain. At any point you can visit anyone’s Ethereum address, see their portfolio and MANA holdings.

When you transact, you can both check that the transaction has gone through and the agreed terms have been met. No need for a third party.

Voting via Agora is held on the blockchain.

In the future it is expected that creating an Avatar with a Digital Identity will also be managed via blockchain.

Needless to say Decentraland are strong believers in blockchain and are heavily incorporating working features within the technology.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity has also moved towards incorporating blockchain technology into the platform. The below video is great to see Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity, talk about VR and blockchain in High Fidelity.

Blockchain is primarily used to create and transact within the marketplace. To create certifiable goods that you can sell on the platform.

User Identity and object info is also stored on the blockchain so that users can easily verify each other and objects within the platform.

Blockchain has become synonymous with terms such as ‘Decentralization’, ‘free world’, ‘open source’ and ‘controlled by it’s users’ so the closer these two can move towards having activities run on Blockchain, it’s expected to move closer and closer to true Decentralization.

Pro’s and Con’s of Both Decentraland and High Fidelity

Decentraland

Pro’s

  • Has multiple partnerships with many blockchain related game, educational and investment firms that are looking to bring their services to the Decentraland metaverse when open. Some of these games have large followings that will help bring traffic to Decentraland. Eg, ChainBreakers, Axie Infinity, Animoca Brands, etc.
  • There are around 40 Districts ranging from Dragon City, (A Chinese Community Driven project with 1000’s of wechat users and 1,000’s of land parcels), Decentraland University, Fashion Street, Aetheria, Vegas, and all kinds of experiences with project leads dedicated to see them through. This should guarantee a lot of content when the world opens.
  • Being born in the crypto environment, (ICO), it has a stronger appeal to the crypto community.
  • Building and deploying in Decentraland will mean you will open your experience/creation up to everyone visiting the world. If Decentraland does extremely well, your creations can be seen by many people walking or flying by.
  • Although land prices are high, this should attract high calibre content creators and investors who will hopefully, create great experiences for everyone to take part in.
  • Current land market allows easy transactions of LAND and has already seen some savvy entrepreneurs make low to mid six figures in their USD/crypto net worth.
  • Community is of a decent size, (Discord recently crossed 10,000 members). Land wallet holders are in the 3-4,000 range and 10’s of $Millions have been transacted in MANA and LAND.
  • Easy drag and drop builder has motivated people that don’t have a clue about development to build and contribute to the creators ecosystem in Decentraland. There may be a market for hiring people who can use the builder well.
  • If you don’t want to build on your land you can rent it or even give access for free to someone who wishes to build. Could provide a cash flow revenue source.

Con’s

  • Decentraland have run with a scarcity land model. There will only be ~43,000 private lands of 16x16m available to build and host content on. The only way to get involved and host content into the world is to buy from someone else. As prices slowly increase, how will content creators and developers react?
  • Decentraland land size is only 16x16m. With the cheapest land being ~$500, how much of an immersive experience can you build on this land?
  • Having to pay a relatively large amount for land means that most developers need to get a little business savvy to cover costs. Although there is expected to be a rental market opening soon to make and more affordable, at least, in terms of cash flow.
  • You are building in the Decentraland world. Although you completely own your land as a token in your Ethereum wallet, you are still limited to the build limitations of what Decentraland allow.
  • Low poly limits hinder the level of experience you can currently build. Although it is expected Decentraland will increase these limits as tests prove they can cope.
  • How will investors and/or speculators effect land prices. Will this be detrimental to content creators who wish to just go in and build? Although there are many land owners and even some districts, (Anarchist International), who are willing to rent out to content creators for free.
  • Decentraland hasn’t launched yet and you can’t visit the world. Will land prices hold when the world opens and people can finally see what you can use your land for?
  • MANA being tied to the crypto market is highly susceptible to bitcoin swings. With MANA prices increasing and decreasing rapidly, we have seen the land market react by people wanting to cash out asap, hence dumping their land. How will this pan out in the future?
  • Avatars aren’t completely customizable. As people want to represent their identity in a variety of ways, I feel it’s necessary to provide a more cutomizable experience.

High Fidelity

Pro’s

  • No need to buy land to start building experiences. Can set up a simple host and build an immersive world you can share with people.
  • Much further ahead in terms of content creation and figuring out the issues and hurdle that come with managing open worlds.
  • Limitations are way more lenient than Decentraland. You can build a whole 10km’s wide and with much more poly limits than Decentraland currently allows.
  • Complete Avatar customizations. You can then sell them on the marketplace.
  • Fully functioning marketplace built on blockchain. You can build and sell your creations in HFC, (High Fidelity Coins).
  • Some really cool events and VR experiences you can keep up with and join using their calendar.
  • Core team holds regular meetings with their content creators and general public which they communicate progress and work with the community to tackle current issues. Transparency is HUGE in this space.
  • Hosting your creations on your own server is a more decentralized approach

 

Con’s

  • Numerous people have mentioned issues with their interface. Newbies find it hard to navigate the space and figure out how to do basic functions. (This is something Decentraland will also need to figure out at some point).
  • You need to book a bank appointment with the High Fidelity bank to get some HFC coin which you can only buy using Ethereum. The process of ‘booking an appointment’ needs to be removed and users need an easier way to get HFC. Paypal or traditional credit card maybe? Although this is hard considering the volatility of the crypto market.
  • Are yet to make some considerable noise in the crypto scene. Although running on blockchain, not many people in the crypto world know about them.
  • Worlds are mostly empty and content creators need to create their own marketing strategies to push their builds out there so people can visit. This is partly due to the High Fidelity design of having each build on it’s own server and also the fact that the VR market is quite small.

 

Issues Faced by Both Platforms

Blockchain and VR are relatively new technologies. There still needs to be a lot of work done in creating fluid and stress free infrastructure that companies can build off.

For example, to get your hands on a VR headset is not cheap. Often over $1,000 as you need both the headset and a PC with powerful enough graphics. Although Oculus Quest is aiming to change that at $400 and being both a headset and PC in one! This is a great step forward in reducing costs and increasing accessibility to a lot of people.

The Current VR market is quite small, many people access these worlds using browsers. As such, the worlds being built for VR don’t seem to catch on. Hopefully this will change as the access to VR and functionalities of it will improve.

High Fidelity have mentioned issues with management of filters, ie, ban lists. Who do you allow in and how heavily do you moderate it? Do you make it strict and allow only a trickle of people in or make it broad but put up with people being annoying?

There are many talented content creators and artists in this space. No doubt there. But, there is a certain level of marketing knowledge required to actually get eye balls to your creations, (If you want them to be public). Developers will need to find a way to monetize their worlds if they want to live off their creations. Something the platforms need to assist with.

Conclusion

Again, this article was not meant to be a face off between Decentraland and High Fidelity but just to highlight the difference in how the companies have decided to build their worlds and the results of these decisions.

It is better to see them as allies, working to build and realize a fully functioning Metaverse. They are both tackling similar hurdles which will be tackled faster if they learn from each others successes and failures.

You can learn about Decentraland here, buy land here, and join the most active Decentraland Discord community here.

You can learn about High Fidelity here, download the client here, visit the item marketplace here, and visit their most active forum here.

Please share this article if you’ve enjoyed it!

 

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