Users Not So Many, Miners Not Too Weak — The Dark Side Behind the Seemingly Prosperous EOS World
This article is the companion piece of Beyond the 1.2 Billion USD in 80 days — the unsettling EOS ecosystem midst the lackluster capital market, written by Vincent Niu, and first published on DappReview Wechat Channel on Dec.16th. The following is edited and translated by Mable Jiang @ Nirvana Capital
A year ago, when the nascent token funds were crushing the skyrocketed token prices, DApps were just taking off.Most attention was still contributed to the infrastructure layer. I was still trying to compute the statistically best synthetic genes for Fancy Cats in CryptoKitties with Excel.
A year later, most alts coins are down 90%+, whereas the liquidity of most funds was drained up or near bottom.
Midst the feeling of disorientation and the eagerness for new stories, investors noticed a new wonderland named Decentralized Applications.
So, does it really have large growth potential?
In just a few weeks, tens of DApps social media accounts and communities popped up. Major crypto media all set up their new sections for DApps and organized online and offline events, just to capture this (lonely) flame in the crypto dark night.
In this article, DappReview will crunch some numbers for you and walk you through our own view. Hopefully these together could help you form your own opinion about the past, present, and future of DApps.
1. Authentic users of EOS DApps
Let’s take a look at the stats of real users on EOS.
We saw a screenshot a few days ago claiming that the MAU of EOS DApps in November was 730k+ (# of addresses). Yet, sarcastically, even the total number of addresses on EOS Mainnet has not reached that number. If not mistaken, the number was just the sum of DAU every day. :/
So what’s the number of real active users? We calculated some numbers here based on the transaction data of all active DApps in November:
# of Active DApps in November: 174
# of DApp Users in November: 157k
Total transaction volumes on DApps: 350 Million EOS
# of DApp Active Users in November: 37k
The definition of “Active Users” here satisfies either condition:
- more than 30 times txns with DApps’ contracts in November
- more than 30 EOS transaction volume on DApps in November
1.1 Top Players
Let’s take a closer look at the 37k active users.
Transaction volume: more than 50% of the users have monthly transaction volume lower than 100 EOS; 7% users have more than 10k EOS transaction volume
Number of DApps played: more than 50% of the users tried fewer than 5 DApps; 2% are heavy DApp players, having tried 20+ DApps
The stats under those top players are very impressive. Top 20 players together contributed 89.75MM EOS transaction volume, which is 26% of the volume in November. Details could be checked on https://player.dapp.review.
Noticeably, the transaction volume in November is 1.5times of the volume in the whole period from August to October (which is around 220MM EOS). Up till today(as of Dec 16), December has already passed 1/2, undoubtedly the performance in December will be way above the number in November.
In the rank of spending above we see that the top 2 players have taken 90MM+ EOS transaction volume in December, and that’s more than the sum of top 20 in November.
Let’s take a look what these two fanatic users are playing:
The player ranked top, gamblinglife, was spending mostly on BetDice and Big.Game.
The second ranked player had more diverse interests: BetDice, EOSBet, EOSMax, Big.Game, ToBet. He also had an intimidating number of transactions: up to date in December, he completed 2.63MM transactions — in November the total number of transactions was only 100MM.
1.2 Active users and Miners in Dapps
In my previous article — Beyond the 1.2 Billion USD in 80 days — the unsettling EOS ecosystem midst the lackluster capital market, we introduced the gaming logic of the gambling games.
Here’s how it works: the DApp issues its own tokens in the game and distributes the tokens proportionally by the amount users contribute in every round. The rewards also follow a halving schedule every specific period of time.
The development team periodically distributes dividends to all the token holders. For the token holders (assuming they are rational investors), although the expected value of the winning probability in such gambling games is negative, they could still realize profits from dividends and selling the tokens when the token is listed.
Miners, who “mine” by playing with high frequency, also play a key role in the ecosystem in addition to the DApp active users.
Let’s find out the number of active users and miners in each Dapp. Again the rules are:
- Active User: Interacted > 30 times with smart contracts of DApps in November
- Miner: Interacted > 5000 times with smart contracts of single Dapp in November
This diagram is the most important one in the article. Please peruse carefully.
A few takeaways:
1. Most EOS Dapps have fewer than 2000 active users in November. Among the DApps that have more than 10k users, majority of the users are a. churners who try to get as many free tokens from airdrop and bounty programs as possible; b. the players who create dummy transactions
2. Miners contributed 70%-80% transaction volume. The total number of addresses under miners is 1.4k, meaning these 1.4k addresses contain the very majority of the 350MM EOS worth transaction volume
3. The only non-gambling game — EOS Knight, is a special existence. 66% of the players are authentic active users, and its number of users and the percentage of active users both ranked №1 in EOS. There are no miners in the gaming mechanism, either. We can be confident enough to state that EOS Knight is the real top-notch DApp on EOS.
Above is some authentic information from the perspective of users. What’s behind the skyrocketed transaction volume is some prosperity bubble constructed by the small group of miners. And miners care and only care about making money.
A regular cycle of a DApp:
A large miner go into a game and start his “nuclear” mining machine. Subsequently, the smaller players (including the smaller miners) go in for the large dividends: some start to mine, others collateralize tokens at the exchange for the dividends. Meanwhile, popularity of the game gradually increases, with the token price on the secondary market keeps going up. At some point during this, the large token holders (house) start to sell their low-cost-basis tokens in the secondary market with a much higher price. Sometimes they even sell a large chunk at once, making the price simply plunge, and so are the dividends. If the game doesn’t have attractive content, nor has good operation, the DApp is basically done with its life cycle.
To some extent, miners in a DApp can trap the retail players at a much higher price, and expedite the life cycle of a DApp. What determines the survival of a DApp through its halving point and the pressure brought by the leaving of miners is its content quality.
A high-quality product built by a capable team can retain miners; even if the miners leave the ecosystem at some point, they would choose to quit in a milder manner. For example, when Royal Online Vegas (“ROV”) faced its first mining halving point, many people were waiting for miners to dump a large chunk into the market so that they could buy low. Out of their expectation, no one sold a large amount. Even another time when a large holder did sell 1MM token at once, plummeting the price almost to half, the price recovered the next day immediately by the large demand from the retail buyers. Fundamentally, these are all because of the overall recognition on ROV’s quality and the team.
Miners are like the gold farming studios in web games. They attain the in-game assets through some technical by-pass, and resell them in the OTC market for the arbitrage. Their existence is like a double-edged sword: on the one hand they activate the in-game economy with high efficiency, but on the other hand they also could ruin the game in a fast manner.
1.3 DApp Churners
Miners are not the only interesting group of people in the ecosystem. Within the 157k accounts on EOS mainnet, 120k are inactive, among which plenty are churning accounts. Here we have 2 examples (we showed some churning addresses): pralijing123 and z.io
Just two of them already have 12k churning addresses. They each has his/her own preferred DApps. Pralijing123 loves Royal Online Vegas (“ROV”). ROV gifts 50 MEV (tokens for ROV) to every new account for the first EOS spent, but gives only 1.5 MEV every EOS spent afterwards (the mining difficulty ramps up). Knowing this, pralijing123 leveraged the huge number of addresses (s)he owned to get the 50MEV with the first EOS spent. Here are a few accounts under pralijing123:
A fun fact: many of pralijing123’s accounts are named after the most well-known Chinese martial arts fictions. Just across these listed accounts in the screenshot, pralijing123 already gained 17k MEV and 300+ EOS worth of other free tokens, not to mention other accounts that are not in the screenshot.
The other player z.io prefers the daily free lottery in BetDice.
Interestingly, all z.io’s gains went into an account named lueosyangmao, which is the pinyin spelling for “churning EOS” in Chinese — the name is just self-evident. This lueosyangmao account gathered all its fruits from different accounts on November 27th, totaled 1064 EOS.
Miners and churners, one takes 70%+ transaction volume and the other takes 70% users. Some may question whether their existence is reasonable, but the question shouldn’t be a real concern if you agree that “Code is Law”.
2. Do DApps really make money?
Many developers decided to all in after they saw the huge transaction volumes and stories of getting rich overnight. But is it really that easy to make money?
Let’s do some maths here.
A few hypotheses:
- House Edge = 2%
- Assume 50% of the transaction volume comes from the backlinks on other sites, House Income = Total Transaction Volume * (2%-0.1%)
- 70% income goes to paying the dividends, 10% goes to CPU rental services and market makers, the 20% left goes to the project/developers itself
- Assume EOS is at $2.5 USD
(Note: in order to make the calculation straightforward, we make all the input assumed above constant. In reality, the House Edge in different DApps range between 1.5%-4%, and the proportion of income that used for dividends ranges between 60%-80%. The calculation below, as a result, is only for our readers’ reference rather than reflecting any specific scenario precisely.)
Based on the assumptions above, each of the DApps outside the top 13 only made 30k+ USD (using the EOS price on December 20th), which was unlikely to cover the SG&A (“Salary, General & Administrative”) costs. Although the DApp teams could have other income source, such as dividends from the unlocked tokens, and proceeds from selling tokens in the secondary market, many determined teams still choose to keep their own tokens instead of selling.
Only very few top-ranking DApps are profitable. Truth is that, these DApp developers, on the one hand, need to ramp up their development progress to stand out as soon as possible in the red sea; but on the other hand, they have to seriously ensure not being hacked or otherwise they could lose hundreds of EOS. Not to mention that the players, if not happy about the token price, will demonstrate in no time and press the team to return their money.
Matthew effect also exists in Tron. The №1 DApp TRONbet simply performs way better than any other DApp on Tron. In the past few days, TRONbet has been constantly breaking its own record — on December 15, its transaction volume was more than 1.4BN Tron, and the single-day dividends was more than 300K USD. In other words, the team made somewhere between 70k and 85k USD in one day.
3. The development of DApps, past, present, and future
Regardless what people think in the past, more and more people believe that there will be a wave of DApps explosion waiting ahead.
As one of the earliest participants in the DApp world, DappReview observed all the ups and downs in the DApp world in the past year. We consider CryptoKitties the only DApp that gained true popularity. How do we define true popularity? We think the only way to judge is how many non-crypto people are brought into the crypto world by that DApp, as the crypto circle is really smaller than you think and needs new blood.
Some stats here: Fomo3D, a game went viral in July, only had fewer than 30k users, while the core users in EOS Dapps also only had 40k. We can say with considerate certainty that participants in either one comes from the existing pool rather than from new blood. CryptoKitties, in contrary, had more than 200k+ ETH addresses interacted with its smart contracts, and many addresses were newly registered.
I still remember that back in December last year when I posted about my Christmas special breed on the WeChat Moments, many friends who had no clue what cryptocurrency is, private messaged me about how to purchase a cat. They went through all the thresholds — wallet, exchange, etc., — and became token holders and bought their first Kitty.
The heyday of DApps was April to June this year — way more popular than now. Three large Chinese engines, Cocos, Laya, and Egret, all step into the blockchain industry, trying to secure their own shares. Loom and Enjin also had frequent updates and exposure. All at a sudden, a hundred flowers blossomed.
The participants in DApp conferences at that time often included mainstream content providers in the traditional gaming industry. Pathetically, the participants in the DApp conferences in China nowadays are mostly the wallets, crypto media, and heavy players.
At Cocos Developer Salon in Shanghai this May, Zhe Wang, founder of Cocos, told me: “You may think these developers are all so enthusiastic now, but 80% will disappear at the end.” It only took 6 months before his words came true. The first batch of the DApp developers mostly left. Even if a very small group of them was still trying to stay, these folks all went into the gambling DApps development on EOS and TRON.
Seeing the whole cycle, undoubtedly I had mixed feelings. I still remember those conversations with developers about how to make games more fun by adding blockchain, why store certain things on chain, and what are the technical challenges. Yet, I’ve been receiving more and more messages like these recently:
“I’ve completely lost my faith on Blockchain.”
“No real users; simply just can’t survive.”
“I’m thinking about going back to do globalization of mobile games.”
So on and so forth.
Meanwhile, as this older batch of developers who used to have faith in blockchain games comes and goes, the newer batch has more interest in talking about which DApp (gambling) is worth mining, whether mining is economical, which game pays more dividends, and when will the halving point comes.
Still, people inside or outside this circle all concern about the sustainability of this wave. Everyone who cares about DApps is asking the question “when will the real Decentralized Applications (that have meaningful values) come to us?”
Before that moment, apparently there are a lot of constraints along the road:
- Performance of the infrastructure — slow latency on ETH, resources on EOS, etc.,
- Barriers for new users — wallet, public/private keys, transaction fee, getting to know CPU/RAM for EOS
- High-quality Content — lack of creative and valuable content / intellectual property
Among the three categories, performance may be the least important one for games. My reason is that even if a public chain has very stable high performance, it doesn’t mean there will be fun games / DApps be built on top.
The very core of any game is to be fun, even just be fun at one specific dimension. There are tons of new games in the mobile and PC gaming world, but very few requires the latest hardware or technology. Many fun games could be run on a computer bought 3 years ago.
Even for blockchain games, not every part needs to be on chain — much burden is unnecessary for the infrastructure. Only the core parts, such as assets, security, and other things that need for transparency and fairness, need to be on chain. Infrastructures and applications should really promote each other by improving simultaneously (read this great article by USV — The Myth of The Infrastructure Phase). It really does not make sense to predict an infrastructure that could carry a game with 100MM DAU 5 years later.
The real challenges lie at the second and third constraints above. The high barriers to onboard a non-crypto player and the lack of attractive content really restrict likelihood of acquiring mainstream traditional game players.
Blockchain is only an additional toolkit for games. It is not going to replace or topple the world of the old games. Computer games, had fierce competition since its birth in the 60s and still do. Steam, as a highly profitable distributor, doesn’t even need external capital or access to the public market because its own operation is profitable enough. Even like board games, a category that seems to be very niche, is still a 10bn+ USD market that is expanding fast.
“Blockchain games” is not a new category, but rather we just use it to refer to any game that has blockchain technology involved, because the number of this type of games is simply limited.
Therefore, I don’t really believe that blockchain can break all the rules in the traditional game industry. Sure, blockchain somehow could change the relationship between developers and gamers more reciprocal; it could bring in token-economy to redistribute rewards and modify incentive mechanism; it could also bring real monetary values to the in-game virtual assets. Still, these are only optimization. Blockchain is never going to negate the past of the gaming industry.
At the end of the day, a well-designed blockchain game should just be fun. Players don’t care about whether a game is blockchain-backed, as far as it is fun to play.
Several games will be released in 2019:
- Blockchain TCG — Gods Unchained
2. Blockchain TCG — Zombie: Battleground by Loom
2. The first blockchain game by Mythical Games — Blankos
3. A blockchain gaming platform & sandbox game developed by Pixowl — Sandbox
These games are common in a way that they only leverage blockchain as an additional toolbox and a new way to offer a better incentivized ecosystem. I sincerely look forward to their performance next year.
4. Newcomer for DApps: Tron
In addition to EOS, Tron, another public chain, under the leadership of Justin Sun, also attracts quite a few DApps.
Interestingly, while the majority of EOS, a project founded by BM, a guy from the western world, is held by Chinese and Korean people, major holders of Tron, a Chinese project, locate at regions that are non-Asia.
We may just interpret this phenomenon as that local products seem less appetizing than the international ones. The rise of a public chain requires not only users, but also the easiness to making money on top. Tron definitely have both. If someone ever in doubt with the real user activity level of Tron, I would just recommend this person to join the telegram group of TRONbet. The activity of that community is nowhere worse than the top DApps on EOS.
We learned that Tron had been in touch with a lot of DApp developers, both domestically and internationally, and mainstream content provider, just to bring in more diverse content to the ecosystem. The ongoing DApp competition (http://www.tronaccelerator.io/) and the 100MM USD TRX Ecosystem Fund are aggregating popularity.
DappReview does not have a preference on any public chain. We only care about whether a public chain could prove itself with its content and statistics. We are the earliest review institution that starts to trace the DApp activities on Tron. We can’t tell whether Tron will succeed at the end, but from what we observed Tron was delivering concreate results.
5. Stepping into the Dapp world
5.1 Basic understanding and concepts
The Evolution of Blockchain Games and a Peek at What’s to Come
The following is a guest post by Vincent Niu from DAppReview. The original Chinese article was published on May 11.
Beyond the 1.2 Billion USD in 80 days
The unsettling EOS ecosystem midst the lackluster capital market
5.2 Data analytics tools
- DappReview website ( https://dapp.review ) — Providing data analytics and Dapp Ranking for 1700+ Dapps runing on ETH/EOS/TRON and will include more public chains going forwards.
- Player Analytics ( https://player.dapp.review ) — You can check out the market movers’ daily activities and spending everyday. Or you can use it as a portfolio management tool to keep track of your own spending on DApps.
5.3 Dapp Wallets
Many people in the crypto world own EOS but not EOS wallet or their own EOS account; their tokens just sit in a centralized exchange. Even investors at many token funds I know do not how to use an EOS wallet.
Below are the some wallets that suppot EOS DApps:
- TokenPocket — https://www.mytokenpocket.vip/
- MeetOne — https://meet.one/
- Math Wallet — http://www.mathwallet.org/
- Bitpie — https://bitpie.com/
- Secrypto — https://www.secrypto.io/
Worth mentioning is that Bitpie made some bold moves: it tried to create an EOS interoperable stable coin. Whoever owns mainstream crypto assets like BTC, ETH, and USDT, could exchange their assets into same worth of EOS via that stable coin, and subsequently use the assets in EOS DApps or DEX. Essentially such a move is to bring in more users from the mainstream crypto world without worrying about the volatility in EOS price.
Wallets that support DApps on TRON include:
- Cobo Wallet — https://cobo.com/
- Math Wallet — http://www.mathwallet.org/
- GuildChat — https://www.guildchat.io/
5.4 Decentralized Exchange
Forget about the centralized exchanges in the DApp world.
Centralized exchange is similar to the broker dealers in traditional finance. People try to capture alphas through trades on centralized exchanges.
DEX, on the other hand, is more like a foreign exchange service. On a DEX you exchange the mainstream tokens into the DApp tokens, to either game or collateralize for dividends; or, you exchange the DApp tokens back into the mainstream tokens.
Here are some mainstream EOS DEX:
- Newdex — https://newdex.io/
- WhaleEx — https://www.whaleex.com/
- Chaince — https://chaince.com/
If any questions or any thing wanna discuss, welcome to reach me out @vincent222 on telegram.
DappReview is the first and largest DApp platform in China, delivering accurate DApp data, user insights and market analytics on blockchains including ETH, EOS, TRON, NAS, etc. As one of the leading media dedicated to blockchain technology and DApps, DappReview provides professional reviews weekly on new DApps and industry insights to the 30k+ followers in social media and crypto communities in China. In the future, we’ll publish more English articles and review on our Medium Channelhttps://medium.com/dappreview
DappReview plays external consultant role for several token funds. And have help three Dapps finish fund-raising as financial advisor.
About Nirvana Capital
Nirvana Capital is a San Francisco/Beijing based blockchain fund that focuses on primary market investment and exploration in edging ideas of technology and economics. Its founding partners are also early supporters of Ethereum. To bring together ecosystems that revolutionize the social productions and labor relations with the communities underneath, Nirvana Capital provides end-to-end strong support to its portfolio projects, including advisory on strategies/operations and resources matching.