When a new and original idea goes viral on the Internet, many people immediately assume it must be a scam. This also holds for Earth 2. Youtube and Reddit contain many videos and posts speculating that Earth 2 is nothing but a pyramid game with the sole purpose to part people from their money. Is this indeed a reasonable assumption? In this article, we will take a closer look at Earth 2 and try to objectively evaluate the project.
We will discuss the following topics:
- Is it an original and interesting concept?
- Who are the creators and what is their background?
- Do they have sufficient means to develop their idea?
- Is there a whitepaper and roadmap available?
- Does the team communicate with the community in a transparent way?
Is it an original and interesting concept?
The idea of creating a fully virtual digital world is not new. Games like Second life have already existed since 2003, and there are many alternatives. However, none of these games use a detailed copy of the real world as their virtualized environment, including the natural properties of the real world, like natural resources. This also means that the scale of this virtual world is immense, it is literally the size of the planet! This makes Earth 2 both a innovative and very ambitious project.
A consequence of these ambitions is that the capacity of their servers can’t always keep up with the popularity of the game. The huge interest of the public came even as a surprise to the developers. It shows that people are very interested in the concept, but at the same time there is a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), especially amongst people that missed out on the Bitcoin craze. Even though Earth 2 doesn’t have any connection to Bitcoin or crypto-currencies (at least not in its current state), it does have a similar “feel” to it and attracts a lot of similar people. Being an early adapter has proven to be extremely lucrative in the case of Bitcoin, and many people look at this as a second chance to take advantage of this.
Who are the creators and what is their background?
The people behind Earth 2 are mostly rooted in the gaming and VR world. You can find more about them in this post.
Wolfgang Walk is a very experienced gameplay designer. His role will most likely be related to the “story” part of the gaming experience of Earth 2, so his role will become more important in the next phase.
Nathaniel Doldersum is a talented game develop who I expect will be mostly involved in the “visual” part of the game.
Stojce Slavkovski most likely will be focusing on the back-end and the infrastructure. A very important part of the gaming experience, especially now that Earth 2 is growing at such an exponential rate.
Rogerio Rocha is another back-end engineer who will most likely be working “behind the scene” on very important but less visible parts of the game.
Steve Bennett’s role is already clearly visible in the current phase of the game, since he is the expert on web mapping that is used for the grid system.
Samuel Dale will most likely focus on the web and (future) mobile experience.
Finally, Ralf Adam will help with the production side of the game.
All in all, the team seems to have all skills on board: game design, visualization, infrastructure, scaling. My only concern is that the team is still very small for such a big project. I can imagine they are all working 20+ hours a day to keep things going, which is admirable but in the long run not sustainable.
I see no indication that any of the team members is out to scam people – they all seem to be sincere and passionate developers. However, I think it is essential to find new talent and also offer them a position rather than a freelance assignment, which now seems to be the situation with most of the developers.
Do they have sufficient means to develop their idea?
As mentioned before, the current team is still very small. However, Earth 2’s ambitions are enormous. Many gaming elements need to be developed: Excavating natural resources, building houses and infrastructure, controlling certain areas, and much more.
To develop all of this, a lot of time, money and effort is required. Servers or cloud resources need to be bought, new developers need to be hired, there needs to be a service desk, a marketing department, etc. To pay for all of this, Earth 2 gets income from the sales of tiles. New tiles that were initially sold for $0.10 are currently sold for prices up to more than $40 (for USA tiles).
When tiles are bought or sold via the marketplace, 5% of the profit goes to the Earth 2 team. They claim to use this money for the further development of the game.
So the good things is: money is coming in, and it is coming in right now. This means that can continue developing and don’t need to make expensive deals with VC firms (yet…).
Is there a whitepaper and roadmap available?
To evaluate whether or not an ambitious project like Earth 2 will be feasible in the long term, it is important to know more about the ideas if the team and the timelines at which those ideas will be implemented.
Currently, we are still in Phase 1. We can buy and trade tiles and we can get information on our assets, but that is about it. While we do have some ideas about the next phases of the project, at the moment detailed information about what and when is not yet available. Most likely we can expect the following additions:
- building on the land
- strive for power
- VR visualization
The most detailed information can be found in the FAQ, so I would advice anyone interested in the game to take a look at what is written there.
In short, there is no definite whitepaper and no clear roadmap. Most likely, even to the developers, to way forward still contains many unknowns. However, the direction is clear and we will have to see to what extend they are able to implement their vision. The fact that so many people show an interest will make it more likely that time and effort will be spent on creating a clear strategy for the future.
Does the team communicate in a transparent way?
The Earth 2 team had not expected things to take off at the rate that they have and had not prepared for such an overwhelming interest. This lead some people to conclude that the whole project was a scam. To counteract on this, the developers released a live stream on the 31th of December 2020, which can be watched here:
The team, the open communication, the earning model and the large interest has convinced me that Earth 2 is not set up as a scam. Can it fail? Of course. But I think it is unlikely that it will fail because the team decided to cash out and pull the plug. Be aware of the risk of investing in a very early startup. It can become the next Tesla, it can become the next Second Life, or it can become the next Google Plus. Only time will tell.