How Many DAU Does Decentraland Have?
The difficulty of tracking ‘Active Users’ in the metaverse has recently resulted in the spread of misinformation on the topic. Let’s dive into how Decentraland defines what an ‘Active User’ is and the significance of its true DAU numbers.
Recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation going around on the topic of the number of DAU (Daily Active Users) in Decentraland with numbers being reported that are far below the actual amount recorded by the Decentraland Foundation. Most of this has come down to the different approaches being taken in defining what counts as an ‘Active User’.
What is an Active User?
In order to count ‘Active Users’, DappRadar, a metaverse data tracking dashboard, looks at the number of unique wallet addresses that interact with some of Decentraland’s smart contracts. However, the list of contracts the tool had been tracking was not complete nor up to date, and it also didn’t account for one of the most common ways Decentraland users interact with smart contracts, which is via meta-transactions.*
Meta-transactions allow users to interact with smart contracts without having to pay extra fees. An example of this would be purchasing a Wearable from the Decentraland Marketplace. Users only pay the cost of the Wearable without having to pay transaction fees. This means that not even one of Decentraland’s 6k+ Wearable transactions in the month of September were counted by DappRadar as the tool wasn’t counting meta-transactions.
But the real issue with counting ‘Active Users’ as the number of smart contract transactions, even if the list of contracts being tracked is complete, is that people don’t only come to Decentraland to engage in transactions. Decentraland is a virtual social world where visitors come to explore, meet friends, attend events, and much more. These visits don’t necessarily involve any kind of transaction, and in fact, if a user enters as a guest, may offer no linked wallet data that external parties could track. That’s why the Decentraland Foundation defines an ‘Active User’ as someone who enters Decentraland and moves out of the initial parcel they entered the world into.
What is the best way to track DAU in the Decentraland?
At this time, there is no official, public tool that tracks the exact DAU of Decentraland. As already discussed, DappRadar, tracks some smart contract interactions, which is not necessarily the best way to count ‘Active Users’. Another data aggregator, WeMeta, displays Concurrent Active Users or the amount of users on Decentraland servers at a specific time, but this isn’t a term that is easy for most people to understand and simply doesn’t paint the same picture as the industry standards of DAU or MAU (Monthly Active Users).
Currently, one of the most accurate dashboards that displays a close approximation of Decentraland’s DAU is DCL Metrics, made by Decentraland DAO grantees. DCL Metrics aggregates the DAU number by taking a snapshot of Decentraland’s catalyst servers every 90 seconds and tallying up the amount of unique users for every 24hr cycle. While there is room for a small margin of error as the snapshots are only taken every 90 seconds, the numbers reported on DCL Metrics are very similar to those recorded by the Decentraland Foundation itself, making it the most accurate, public source of DAU data at this time.
Understanding Decentraland’s User Data
The current number of DAU in Decentraland is around 8,000, according to internal Decentraland Foundation data. When calculating this number, the Foundation does not count bot accounts or users that use script blockers, e.g Ghostery. The month of September saw 56,697 MAU and 6,315 Wearables and 1,732 Emotes sold in the Marketplace.
To fully understand the significance of these numbers, it’s worthwhile to embark on a little mental arithmetic journey. You might at first divide 56,697, the number of September’s MAU by 30 and come back with the number 1,866. “That’s not 8k DAU!”, you scoff to yourself. But wait—1,866 would be the number of DAU if every one of those 56,697 unique individuals only visited Decentraland once in the month of September, and that’s not what’s happening. A large number of Decentraland’s users are repeat visitors, they are the Decentraland community and spend time on the platform on a regular basis.
If you look at Decentraland’s DAU numbers over the past year, it’s true that you will see a decline in overall numbers since the early metaverse hype of late 2021 when terms like ‘NFT’, ‘Web3’, and ‘metaverse’ were just starting to have a real presence in the mainstream. But that’s to be expected as the metaverse is still very much in its early days and still has much growing and developing to do. The number of tourists and speculators visiting the metaverse has decreased, but the community, a core of metaverse citizens, is steadily growing. The metaverse may still be a new place, but it certainly is not a lonely one.
When discussing the number of DAU or MAU in Decentraland, it’s worth keeping in mind that Decentraland is not a company and that it doesn’t view users as a product by which to measure success. Decentraland is a DAO and the only open source, Web3 metaverse platform that is owned and governed by its community. The sentiment is best put by Decentraland’s mission statement:
Decentraland’s goal is to be a fun and entertaining platform with a thriving community that educates and onboards people to the philosophies and tech of Web3 while empowering Creators in the hope that, when the masses realize why decentralization is important, a viable option will be available and the next iteration of the internet won’t be monopolized by a handful of corporations.
*Since this issue has come to light, The Decentraland Foundation has been in contact with DappRadar and they are working together to improve the way that the latter tracks transactions in Decentraland to result in more accurate reporting. Initially DappRadar was only tracking 13 Decentraland contracts—they will now track over 3,000 and will begin working on a way to include meta-transactions in their tracking as well.