Somnium Space VR

To start off, I have been a very active community member of Somnium Space since I joined almost 2 years ago. I have built and hosted many events and have roughly over 2000 VR hours, in world. I have spent a large portion of that time in the company of the Co-founder and current CEO, Artur Sychov. With that being said, I think I am in a pretty good position to speak frankly and knowledgeably about the platform, the CEO and the company in general.

Somnium Space is an open world VR platform, that uses blockchain technology to allow users to purchase and own NFT items, such as land, avatars, etc. A key feature of Somnium Space is that it is a “persistent” open world… meaning you can wander all over the world without any load screens. It is a privately owned company run by the owner and CEO, unlike Decentraland, for example, which is run by a non profit organization. This is important when it comes to decision making, community input and how the revenue is handled.

Somnium Space is more than 4 years old and some may say it’s still in beta, but 4 years is a long time to be in beta. However, saying it’s in beta, is used as an excuse for the multiple features that have either, never worked, (since I have been there) or once worked but now do not. This extra long beta period has put Somnium behind other platforms, with Somnium not having even the most basic privacy features, such as keeping people from entering your property, that, in Somniums case, you’ve actually purchased, and privately own, unlike other platforms, in which you are just using their property… but they, at least, still offer the basic privacy features people expect.

On the topic of privacy, Somnium claims you could use the platform anonymously, however, if you ever send the “requested” log files (asked for occasionally for debugging purposes) they provide Somnium with your computers name, your computers account name, (meaning your name) what times you’ve logged into the platform and who you socialize with while being there. These are just some of the privacy concerns I noticed in these log files during my review of them. Also, your information from connected accounts, such as unity (You may use this for uploading content) would also be available to Somnium. I’ve also recently noticed, their website site https:// has tracking software and sends your information to “Alphabet” (“Blacklight detected this website sending user data to Alphabet, the technology conglomerate that encompasses Google and associated companies like Nest. The Silicon Valley giant collects data from twice the number of websites as its closest competitor, Facebook” {direct quote}) In other words, to Google. This can be verified by entering Somnium’s web address into a privacy checker such as:

Back to development. It seems Somnium’s team could use a little help as well. Besides the many features that are non existent or simply don’t work correctly, it’s a bit disturbing to know that they were unable to implement the simplest required features, such as controller bindings for my HP G2. Other platforms didn’t seem to have these issues, such as Altspace, Vr Chat, Neos and Sansar, which I also frequent. I believe the only working HP G2 controller bindings are the ones I created and uploaded to steam for others to use. (most controls work, however, I would like to mention that I am not a software designer or game developer and had no experience in this area). And, it’s not like Somnium didn’t have many opportunities to increase it’s development team… since there has been some skilled community members, that boast backgrounds in game development and software engineering, however, as will be noted later, these people couldn’t see a future working with the current CEO and simply gave up trying or have left the platform altogether. The same can be said for some of the actual paid development team, as well as some active, long time, community members. (such as myself). There also seems to be a reoccurring pattern of “using” people until they are no longer needed. This type of behaviour creates trust issues, and paired with constant conflicts, certainly isn’t helping the platform grow.

Which brings us to users. Anyone who has ever entered Somnium Space (past or present) probably noticed how barren it is. If you ask on discord, someone may tell you there are thousands of users. Although it is possible Somnium has thousands of account holders, (I don’t have access to that information) what I can say, after being there practically everyday, for almost 2 years, is, there are about a dozen ACTIVE VR users. (when I started and still today) The rest of those “thousands” are just people who own land for future profit, and you’ll likely never see them.

NFT’s and the market place:

Starting with parcels. People have often asked “why are the Land prices so high?” Well, that is the secondary market… meaning, those properties are already owned and are being resold or flipped in many cases. The high price in those situations can be explained simply by saying that some owners are trying to see how gullible people can be. There are plots that are worth more (like in any market) because they are more desirable, being Ocean front, Island properties or very close to city centre. The rest, to put it bluntly, are basically just greedy people trying to find suckers. The evidence is in the most recent auction, (aprox. 3 months ago) where Somnium has set reasonable sale prices on it’s own properties: Smalls, I believe, started at .7 ETH, mediums were 1.5 ETH and XL’s were 3.0 ETH. The majority sold (the ones that did sell, as this was the slowest auction to date) close to asking price and mostly to people who plan to flip them. If you happen to be looking at properties on Opensea, check the property’s sales history. “Flipping” has always irritated me, since the day I joined and I have mentioned it to the CEO on numerous occasions, but the reply I get is: “those properties are privately owned, and the owners can ask whatever they like”, which may be true, but also, Somnium has no incentive to limit or cap sales prices as they make 7.5 percent off every resale. I also feel that all the ridiculous pricing has ultimately hurt the growth of the platform and the community.

Avatars are another example of exorbitantly high prices. I mean $10 000+ for an avatar, especially when the creator has made multiple copies for sale, with the only difference being, perhaps colour. I do believe some creators spend a fair amount of time on these models, however, you can have a custom avatar created from a creator on unity, for example, for SIGNIFICANTLY less. Also, there are many free, or VERY cheap avatars you can get and use (just not sell) from various companies. I find it’s just another example of milking the community. Of course this is a personal opinion as I also can’t imagine someone paying millions for a painting of a can of soup, but they do.

Somnium has recently minted NFT cars for purchase. They make them available for a few weeks for free as a gimmick to draw more people to the platform, but they will eventually remove them and if you want one, you will be required to pay thousands of dollars worth of ETH. Ultimately this ploy hasn’t proved fruitful for the platform, which is evidenced by the fact of so few active community members. (as mentioned earlier). And, once again, with the lack of proper development, every time Somnium adds a new feature, it has the secondary effect of breaking many other features, which in itself, can become quite aggravating. As many steam reviewers have commented, Somnium promotes itself as a free platform, but after joining, it quickly becomes apparent, no ETH, means you can’t enjoy many of the key features Somnium offers.

There is much than can be said about Somnium’s questionable choices, however this is a blog, not a book. So, I will leave you asking the question many have asked me “should I invest in Somnium Space?” Will the platform survive where so many others have failed? I can’t see into the future, so I really can’t say. I can only share my experiences. I will say though, in my opinion, the biggest problem with Somnium Space is the management. It’s not that Somnium Space couldn’t become great, but I can only see that happening if the current CEO steps down or the company is sold.

Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog are solely that of the writer. The information given was based on the writer’s own experiences and perceptions that were accurate at the time of writing.

Questions or comments can be posted below or directed to: @ZapsCrap on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Somnium Space VR”

  1. I watch some of Somnium videos from time to time. I see that Arthur guy sure spends a lot of time in front of the camera and being bossy to people. what’s his problem?

  2. Hey Zap, I remember you from Altspace. You should spend more time over here, miss seeing ya. Don’t have those “somnium” issues over here. 🙂

  3. I am very disheartened by the direction that Somnium Space the platform is taking. I have to say something. I love Somnium Space, and have been active in the platform for over a year. I’ve seen a lot. Much of it was really exciting but then I started to see what was going on. I will probably be attacked for speaking out, or silently unsuccessful because people will see me as anti-Somnium or going against the “religion”. But this is quite the opposite. Why is it when the good people speak out they turn into the bad guys? Or they are perceived as having something wrong with them in their lives and somehow this causes them to be a negative person. Well I can say with certainty the only thing causing me stress right now in my life is Somnium. So you say then why don’t you just leave? Is that the right solution? Is that how the world works? If you don’t like your neighbors you should just list your home for sale and move to another community even if you love where you live and can’t afford to do that? Should you move to another country because you don’t like your president and just keep your mouth shut? Maybe this is not the same, maybe it is. I see Somnium as my home, and where I’ve chosen to put all my efforts. I guess that’s another discussion entirely. Back to Somnium. When I invested over a year ago, I was using money from Savings that I really shouldn’t have used. I am poor, and needed that money for something in the future, but thought I would take a risk and buy a parcel, because I believe in all the potential here. I also believed in the vision and direction at the time. We were told for years that parcel powers would be “coming soon” and “On the roadmap”. We were told we’d be able to sell our creations on a marketplace cheaply to thousands of users. We were told we’d be able to sell tickets to events on our parcels where only ticket holders could enter. There wasn’t even a microphone in the builder nor was it on the “road map”. It was added because I spoke out. As a performer, my main goal, and I said this to everyone I met, including the co-founder of Somnium who has since mysteriously left the platform, was to help grow the community. That was what I saw was lacking. There just was no one in the game, and really nothing to do. I saw it as both a mission and an opportunity. As a creator in Second Life my only success is in Quantity of sales. Show are very similar, without an audience buying tickets or tipping, there’s no way for performers to make anything so why will they bother. Tipping in Somnium was promised as well, and over a year later still isn’t possible. So I went with the only thing that could possibly make me any money. Selling NFT’s. But I won’t get into a LONG discussion about NFT’s other than to say they are all hype. A way for people to invest in things they believe will some day make them money. What causes this belief? Hype. Plain and simple, or some kind of “reputation” that makes people believe their investment will be worthwhile. And how does one get this mystical reputation? By being promoted. If other people don’t believe in your work, or no one with influence does, then the overall NFT community will not. It’s a simple fact. And in Somnium the same has been seen over and over again. And the community has not grown. Sure new faces have come in, and others have left silently because they don’t see the need to speak up. And some have spoken up quite loudly but then are looked at as “against the religion” and shunned by the people enamored by the system. I can spend hours typing every single example here but I see no point. The people involved know and have seen it for themselves. And the ones who have left. So back to the beginning. I bought my land all enamored by the glowing promise I saw before me…. and then things changed. Not only were certain people promoted over others and successful while I was not, (based on the NFT discussion above) but the platform itself changed. Now suddenly focus was put on developing a brand new “thing” the Web client. And the more that was developed the less of the promises were being developed for regular land owners. Well I stuck with it anyway, and kept trying to be successful building a venue, trying to sell avatars as an unknown creator unpromoted like other creators were promoted with lots of hype. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying. I spoke to the CEO about this personally on a call, more than once, not in a hateful attacking way but trying to help him see the perception of many people not just myself, because I really love Somnium and want it to succeed. But nothing changed. Then cars came out and only certain creators were chosen to be allowed to sell when everyone was promised the opportunity, and it still has not come. Then suddenly Worlds became a thing, which was never “on the roadmap” when I invested. (The roadmap is never published, only mentioned when people wonder why things aren’t working yet… it’s on the roadmap) So worlds came out and now the rich had more to invest in, and resell for a profit. They were way too expensive for me to buy, and why should I when I could make my store and venue on a parcel? Or so I thought. Well even though scripting was promised on the road map for Parcels, now that suddenly changed, and scripting would only be allowed in worlds. So now the dream I had was only going to be possible in a world. Well luckily I got my hands on one through a friend, but I have to log in with his account to do anything with it because the feature to rent worlds to someone is “on the roadmap”. And nothing was published on uploading and developing worlds. Not even essential coding information was released so we can do the things we need to do like opening curtains on a stage so everyone can see it at the same time. Everything we’ve done and we’ve worked 10-12 hours a day on our world has been accomplished through reverse engineering and only because we have people who are even capable of doing it. And still we can’t open curtains or dim lights or even properly amplify a performer, all of which was promised. But worlds our out, even if not working properly…. and just as in the past it seems Somnium is on to the next great feature which didn’t exist but suddenly is adding to the Dev team’s plates. The current land auction. Now Somnium is selling advertising billboards to be displayed throughout the world to people that I imagine can either charge rent to put up ads or advertise their own businesses. Well this was supposed to be a feature on Teleporters, where people could watch an ad to use the teleporter and teleporter owners could charge for those ads, or the people could pay in cubes to use it instead. A feature that was supposed to already be working for those teleporter owners, but now there are billboards. And lets also point out that again certain creators are being promoted. This is a somnium land auction, and there are two creators who’s work is being advertised and sold as part of the auction who will undoubtedly make a fortune. Just like when the Solana brothers bought cubes, it created hype and tons of people suddenly bought cubes and the prices skyrocketed. This is just not right. I don’t want to sell things overpriced to a few rich investors who don’t even want to use my creations (by the way my successful avatar sale, was sold to someone who never used it. Simply listed it for sale again). And while the CEO criticizes Facebook constantly that all they want to do is sell advertising, they are creating the same within their own platform, only they won’t be selling the ads, the people will. So they will absolve themselves of being the “bad guy”, but make a profit anyway, because of the price of the billboards plus 10% of every inflated sale when people sell them in the future. Oh and did I mention the payments and ads for teleporter owners to charge and make income on their investments has not yet been implemented and it was promised “in 6 months” which has passed. But now if you bid on a billboard that is already working! And most will be bought up and resold later for a profit, just like land and worlds. Sure some of them were bought by people using them but not the majority. Now lets touch on the economy. Everyone expects to make money. But in Somnium they seem to want more than everywhere else. But it’s almost a given it will be this way because everything is about the hype of NFT’s and making money. So world owners expect to be able to charge people to play their games. Well unless the games are really really impressive I don’t see how this is going to work. People invested as much as 40k for worlds. Even if they only charged 1.00 to play and I still argue it would have to be a pretty amazing experience when so many other games are free in other platforms, they would have to get thousands and thousands of customers. There are only about 20 active users in the game every day. And with a limit of only 5000 parcels even if every single land owner was active every single day there’s only 5000 customers. Unless you get people actively participating every day that don’t want to own anything, just come into the platform and pay money to play games. Sounds easy right? Well after a year being there the growth of that daily user count has moved from around 10-15 people to 15-25 people. In over a YEAR. And most of the original 10-15 people are gone and new have replaced them. How are creators going to be able to make any money selling cheap for quantity? And why are people not flocking to this amazing world where people are making so much money? Because they haven’t given attention to what is sorely in need of major development that every other free platform has had working for years now. They are too busy developing things they can sell and make a profit. Well developing it enough to get people to buy it, then moving on to the next hyped item they can sell and make big money on, while the other items are neglected. And on top of this, the experience for new users is absolutely horrible. There’s no instruction (except for community members who have taken it upon themselves because like I do, they care about the growth of the community, and Somnium still hasn’t promoted this information for people to find like putting it as a link on their website), so you come into an empty giant world, that you have to walk all over, or take a teleporter to get at least close (IF you know where you are going and understand how to navigate in the first place). And then you get past all these hurdles and what is there to do? If you don’t follow the discord closely you won’t even know what is going on. And half the settings (on the roadmap) in the tablet don’t work, and that’s if you know how to activate the tablet in the first place. Oh and this is only the VR client. 2D has sorely needed attention for over a year, and is only now finally being addressed, but it was supposed to come out 2 weeks ago, and still has not. It will be interesting to see what has been done to make the 2D experience better, because right now, new users are just turned off by the experience in 2D as a first time user. It’s been promise after promise, and I’ve heard “it’s on the roadmap” so many times I just assume it means it isn’t going to happen in my lifetime. Or at least over a year because that’s how long I’ve waited for many of the things I was told are “on the roadmap”. Then we are told “these things take time” but yet other platforms have them up and running in shorter time. Why does it take so much longer in Somnium? Because they keep adding new things to make money, and focus on the next new thing rather than making the important ones that every other platform out there for free have working flawlessly. Worlds are not new tech, they are in all VR platforms you can use for free, and upload to worlds free. And you don’t have to use a teleporter, a map, and walk to a parcel to get to those worlds either. Just push a button and boom you go to it. So again you ask “why are you even staying there”. And I bring this to a close saying because I want Somnium to succeed, and I love what it COULD be. And isn’t this what life is all about? If people just accept the status quo and never speak out, the world will be run by dictators and we’ll all be puppets. I know that’s almost how it is, but at least we’re trying. And so shall I. Will I look like the bad guy?
    Most likely. But I have to try.

  4. Berlin Hypnose - Florian GĂĽnther

    My Journey to buy land in the Metaverse

    Being a professional practitioner in the real world means having an office or a practice. And in the Metaverse that’s not different. So to prepare the start of my own Metaverse Practice I needed to buy real estate in the virtual world.

    Where to buy land in the Metaverse
    It is January 2022 and there are some projects out there to buy land from right now.

    The Sandbox – Minecraft-style game with Unity Engine, without VR
    Decentraland – Unity Engine game, without VR
    Somnium Space – Unity Engine game, with VR
    Victoria VR – Unreal Engine, with VR
    Bloktopia – Unreal Engine, with VR, very commercial

    Two main factors were important to me. The game should be run by the hyper realistic graphics of the Unreal Engine and had to support VR. Those were my main factors, but you could also argue against that.
    Why do I want nice graphics and VR? Because it would enable me to do therapy inside of the world. But on the other hand, I already know that I will not do that. I will use this space more as a gateway and a billboard – maybe as the foyer to my practice, but not as a real therapy room.
    The therapy room will be separate and is connected to my land via a hotspot or a link.

    In what Virtual World did I choose to buy land in the Metaverse?

    The world I finally chose to place my practice in is Victoria VR. At this point in time, there is no playable version of Victoria VR. It’s like buying a flat in a house that is yet to be built. It’s a big risk and it could cost me some and it could cost me some hard-earned money. But there is also opportunity.
    What was special in my situation is that I participated in the first round of sales. So the whole project is not very known at this point. Only Metaverse enthusiasts know about it and that means I am very early with this. The land in Victoria VR is also limited. So one can assume that the investment is likely to rise in value over time. Victoria VR is also one of few projects right now that is using the Unreal Engine. And Unreal is known to be the builder of most of the top selling video games. In contrast, the Unity Engine always looks a bit like Lego.
    The risk for me now is: can Victoria VR really set sail? If the team is only making big announcements, but will not be able to ship a working product, I lose my investment. But if the opposite is true, I bought it for a bargain.

    Why virtual land of the other virtual worlds can also work

    There are other options out there. Yes, most of them don’t use VR but they are working on it. Decentraland wants to update to a VR version in 2022. It is also already populated and it is working. Yes, it is a browser game and there are some crashes here and there, but it has proof of work. You can’t use it as a therapy room, though, as it is not private. Everyone can access your building and there are no real emotions and mimics that you can see. But as I said earlier: as a billboard, as a beacon to find your service, it is enough. But are you ready to pay 13,000$ for a far out piece of land that will not have a lot of traffic? Or are you willing to pay 2.3 Mio Dollars for a better located parcel in the center? That’s the cheapest parcel on the market right now and the most expensive plot of land sold so far. To me that sounds a little overpriced.
    Other places are at this point not really an option for me. Somnium Space doesn’t seem to work properly, probably because it isn’t well constructed. Reviews on Steam describe it as boring and the government as unfair. I have not tried it myself but I found this article from a guy who worked with them for a long time and since then I don’t think this platform will be able to provide what is necessary to me.
    So why not The Standbox? It’s just too Lego-like for me. I don’t like the optics. But obviously some people like it.
    There are constantly new virtual worlds coming up. That means some of them will survive, many of them will go down. I will update the list from time to time, but I will not write any more here about worlds like Bloktopia, to not over stretch the post too much. Still, it’s important to notice that there will be new opportunities coming. The Metaverse is about interconnectivity. So you can jump from one virtual word to another. So it does not need to be Victoria VR or Decentraland.

    How was my process to buy land in the Metaverse?

    So I decided that I want to find out more about Victory VR. Before that I tried to buy land in Decentraland, but it was just too expensive for me. I watched some videos on YouTube about it. I went to the website and read the whitepaper. It sounded all quite interesting, but I understood that there was an opportunity at hand when I found out that there was the Initial Token Offering (ICO) just a few days ago (Dec 1st 2021). What does that mean? All of these Metaverse layers, these virtual worlds, have their own crypto currency. In the case of Victoria VR it’s called VR. Not very creative (the currency of Decentraland is MANA), but recognizable.
    So I bought some and tried to find out what to do with it. Then I found out that the initial land sale will be over Christmas. And then a very exciting time started.

  5. Brendan Pellegrin

    I admire your skill to simplify complex ideas into easily understandable pieces. Impressive job!

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