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Community or cult? How cranky web3 devotees harm mass adoption

Angry web3 folk

OPINION: Investing early in game projects has always been a challenge. Access to The Next Big Thing has typically been an opportunity reserved for wealthy angel investors or venture capital firms.   

But with the rise of web3 gaming, regular retail investors can get in early by, for example, buying up NFTs or virtual land, and potentially make a significant return.

Imagine if there had been an opportunity to own assets in web2 giants like League of Legends, Fortnite or Hogwarts’ Legacy, or in businesses like Blizzard, Square Enix or Electronic Arts.

Be it web2 or web3, an investment in any up-and-coming project can quickly become an emotional experience for some, on obsession where every twist or turn in that project’s fortune is personal, and en masse, a cult-like following of brain-dead devotees who will back that project to the grave is born. 

This one-eyed view of things starts with the potential for overexposure, when investors put too much money or resources into one project or asset without diversifying their portfolio or considering potential losses. 

Many web3 investors tend to invest heavily in one game they believe will be the next “unicorn project” without exploring the entire web3 ecosystem. 

It is understandable why many just settle down with one game. Only 30-50 games out of the 400-plus logged by Polemos are really worth watching. But this still leaves investors at risk of being overexposed if the project is a rug (scam), slow or “just okay”.

Overexposure to one game can lead to emotional attachment to that game’s progress, making investors too optimistic or biased about its prospects, and ignoring any red flags or negative feedback. 

To avoid overexposure, investors should always conduct their own research before investing in any web3 game, and diversify. 

Investors must also set realistic expectations and goals for their investments and be ready to cut their losses if necessary.

Another challenge for web3 game investors is the cult mentality that arises from overexposure. 

Too often web3 investors blindly follow a group or leader without questioning their motives or actions. 

This can happen when investors become ride-or-die groupies for a particular game, and are the “ultimate reply guy” for that game on platforms like Twitter or Discord. 

A cult mentality has made some in the crypto gaming ecosystem hostile towards other projects or communities that may be competing with theirs, and toxic behavior such as trolling, shilling, fudding and brigading, quickly follows. 

I have seen it time and time again. Twitter becomes a battleground where two communities clash. 

The largest one I witnessed was between Illuivum and Star Atlas. The co-founders of two of the most prominent crypto gaming projects went head to head in a live-streamed conversation that became a heated debate about the merits of each other’s projects. 

To the rest of the world we looked pretty laughable; fighting amongst ourselves when there’s only thought to be about 45,000 gamers in the entire web3 space. 

But at least Illuvium and Star Atlas look great and have demos with engaging gameplay. There are trash games that have the most vocal supporters and literally no game to back them up. 

The web3 community needs to come down hard on this mentality and behavior as it has only had a negative effect on traditional gamers. 

If we truly want mass adoption, the web3 community has to stop looking so desperate. 

Everyone in the space should regularly step back, and take an objective look at their portfolio to re-evaluate the wisdom of their investments.

Web3 gaming offers an exciting new frontier for gamers who want to own their digital assets and earn rewards from playing them. 

However, it also comes with risks and challenges that require caution and wisdom from seasoned and researched investors. 

And if an off-hand comment in Discord deriding a game you have money riding on makes your insides boil over, maybe you need to check you haven’t crossed the line between community and cult.

*This opinion column does not constitute investment advice.

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Cavan "Caveman" Roe

Caveman is one of Polemos' core content producers and a game expert with more than two decades of experience. He has been an esports professional and hosts Polemos Bridge on YouTube.