As we watch the hundreds of ICOs in 2018 launch before our eyes, it’s almost jarring. Each has its own unique story, and each a mission to solve a big world problem.
This is inspiring – truly driven founders completely redefining the internet and how information is stored and shared. More importantly, redefining digital trust. In turn, improving accountability at every intersection of our society.
But there’s one pothole forming on this glorious road to success. Many projects are so focused on getting the funding they need to launch, they’re losing track of the long-term goal – building a technology (and actually building it) that real humans can actually use – whether it’s a development framework, customer-facing dApps, or an enterprise solution.
Blockchain is here to solve real-world problems. We can’t lose focus of that end-utility.
Just take a look at some alt coins post-ICO graph. Many have tapered off as the community lost faith in their technical ability to solve the problem detailed in the whitepaper.
New blockchains are being built every day, but outside developers simply aren’t able to develop dApps and other tools on them. Or, whatever else is missing to make the utility a reality – it’s happening more and more often. The frameworks are too clunky and, frankly, lacking the love and care needed for widespread relevance.
So, I went around and started grilling founders, asking some of the hard questions.
What’s your perspective on all the new ICOs launching in droves? Are projects actually building a blockchain that developers and other companies can build upon? What’s missing at this point?
Candy Behunin at Ares Tech
We do see the various problems and risks in the blockchains shared by existing blockchains – specifically in our space of game development: unstable, unclear future, unclear tech solutions, bugs in their agreement or economic system, too centralized, and so on.
The games industry, in particular, is a hugely centralized, big player’s market opportunity, with proven development processes in place, like Unity for example. It’s predictable, developers know it and can easily work within it.
As with any new technology, there’s the opportunity cost of onboarding.
We need to solve that: for developers who have a pioneering spirit, and give them not only the freedom and flexibility to build their games on the blockchain, but reduce the learning curve by providing a simple and seamless all in one SDK. Our vision is supporting indie developers is that we are the first “free gaming platform dApp” to help launch their games.
With the promising development of Plasma, many features will be enhanced, so as the community grows, the platform should grow along with them. Crypto Kitties was a good example of how Ethereum recognizes the need to support game functionality so user experience is not interrupted and remains as interactive as possible. As more games are built with blockchain technology, all game designs and development can and will improve.
So we’re pushing for more workable SDKs for game development on the blockchain.
Matthew Nolan at MenloOne
The current sentiment is a race to get the fastest, cheapest blockchain. A better, faster, cheaper Ethereum with more features. Well, ETH isn’t good enough… is what we’re learning.
The theory isn’t so much an issue with ETH, BTC, Stellar Lumens, etc. Instead, it’s the tooling around them that’s lacking. Developers simply don’t have enough of what they need.
Think about Ruby on Rails – Rails made the tooling actually accessible. Before that, no one used Ruby. And then? Exponential growth!
Our thesis is around tooling and frameworks: user-friendliness and usability.
Devs live and die by frameworks. The space needs more standardization, templates, and libraries. But, everyone’s focused on protocols.
A protocol is just a recipe, but a chef doesn’t just need a recipe. They need a fridge, grill, ingredients, and more.
We’re not going to see much development on the protocols until we get more frameworks and tooling.
The funny part is this – a lot of the infrastructure out there is really good but not usable. In the early stages of the internet, everyone was wondering how to connect all the computers. Instead, they leveraged the voice line infrastructure that was in place. That’s what we need.
Sheldon Xia, CEO at BitMart and Founder of BMX Token
From our perspective, the biggest challenge for the development of newer and better frameworks is adoption.
Frameworks are being developed and improved every day. History has shown that technology innovation is constant, and blockchain is no exception. However, this can lead to an overcrowded market and sooner or later one player ends up with an almost monopolistic share.
That is why we are working to create a platform at BitMart that supports projects built on multiple frameworks, after all, once projects are tokenized they need somewhere to trade. We currently support ERC20, NEP5, and Stellar token standards, with support for more already in the works.
We also recognize that not every project has funding for listing on top exchanges and that can act as a barrier to the adoption of newly developed frameworks, which is why we launched BitMart’s Mission X program. Mission X is a community listing market that allows projects to obtain the capital necessary for listing through our users in the form of our utility token BMX.
If a project successfully raises the necessary amount of BMX from the community they can list their token as a trading pair on the BMX Market. We believe that program such as Mission X can play a key role in the continued innovation of blockchain as a facilitator for adoption.
So Who’s Actually Building Real Frameworks?
Well, the experts I spoke to here at Ares Tech, BitMart, and MenloOne are certainly focused on this: Building real frameworks to make it easy for developers to build on, and Bitmart – for projects to launch on those frameworks and gain organic adoption from investors / community.
Ares Tech is building a framework for game developers to build a social gaming experience with a real, feasible set of tools. A more social, interactive community of game developers. They’re even releasing a demo game version for devs to model off of. As told by their CEO, Jack Li, “We’re building a platform game developers can actually use and easily develop on. But before that, we will deliver an SDK for them and build a demo game as a guideline. The SDK will help developers more focus on create game rule itself than take care of various complex protocols and APIs.”
At MenloOne, their whole calling is building usable frameworks. It’s a framework for building decentralized applications with the speed of a traditional web app. The decentralized database and incentive system is the infrastructure that enables the Web 3.0 generation of marketplaces, social media platforms, and future apps to be as fast and performant as their centralized predecessors.
BitMart is creating a platform that has immense end-user applicability – with a trading experience as well as a community-driven launch platform for smaller projects, called Community Listing Market. This market is the next step for those projects launching on new, more workable frameworks. And getting them real adoption.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Well, who knows. The technology in blockchain and projects are rolling out in such large volume, it may be hard for the original projects to keep up with the newer ones who have better tooling from companies like MenloOne and Ares and other blockchain frameworks.
As regulation increases, it may add complexity to new projects’ funding process, though, especially as we see STOs (Security Token Offerings) gain popularity by complying with SEC guidelines.
However, it’s reassuring to see some companies really keeping the rigor of their white paper, developing truly valuable utilities, and having a real impact on our society today. This is taking speculation out of the market, adding true value, and normalizing markets as they mature.