Upland’s digital economy can extract value and feed it into the real world.
The dapp space is evolving in all directions. At DappRadar, we track dapps and NFTs across over 50 networks, bringing users data-driven insights. In addition, we’ve launched a special interview series focusing on teams under the hood, Dapp Developers.
Our guest today is Idan Zuckerman, co-founder and co-CEO of Upland. The metaverse property trading game is a long-time top-ranker on the EOS network and regularly breaks into the top 10 of the DappRadar Game Ranking.
Tell us about you
I’m Idan Zuckerman, co-founder, and co-CEO of Upland. Self-proclaimed games, blockchain, product, and guitar nerd. What gets me out of bed is my excitement, commitments, and responsibilities towards the people I care about – my family, friends, the Upland team, and Upland community members.
What has been your first interaction with a blockchain?
My first interaction was with cryptocurrencies, but what really sparked my genuine excitement was the introduction of NFTs, which I learned about through Crypto Kitties.
What are the dapps – besides Upland – that you use most?
Out of all your NFTs and gameplay, what’s your favorite one? Why?
I try to keep my public speaking of dapps and NFTs strictly around Upland, but I will say that I am, on a personal level, less excited about speculation and social prestige and more excited about innovation and utility.
What new features or technical optimizations are you working on lately? How will this affect Upland players, especially new players?
Wow, there are so many to choose from. Judging by the excitement from the Upland community’s side, it seems that cars, alongside private transportation mechanics and racing, are among the big ones.
But the two features I’m personally most excited about have to do with the transformation of Upland into a Layer 1 Metaverse.
The first is the recently introduced 3rd party developer tools, allowing any new or existing game, application, or service to seamlessly connect to the Upland economy, mechanics, and player base in order to execute their Web3 strategies in the metaverse.
The second is what we call the NFT Portal – a solution that allows Uplanders both to export Upland-native NFTs into other blockchains but also import NFTs from other blockchains into the Upland metaverse.
What significant challenges did or do you face when developing Upland? Can you share with us, and how can your advice help others?
Upland is built with 100% proprietary technology that solves the accessibility issues of true ownership for mass consumer audiences, without compromising the value proposition. The problem is – that as one of the first teams in the world to have solved this problem, there is no ‘Ask Google’ or a Stack Overflow cheat sheet.
This becomes even more challenging when solving complex UX issues while pushing the boundaries of transaction volume and the limits of transaction reversibility. But the prize and reward are that Upland today is one of the very few ecosystems in the world.
Our entire economy (all fungible as well as non-fungible digital assets) is powered by blockchain by default and also the biggest blockchain-based metaverse in terms of land owners and daily active users.
What is critical for developing decentralized apps, true decentralization, ease of use, simple user onboarding, or something else? Please explain why.
In my mind, the most critical thing is identifying what the value proposition is and how/why it requires decentralization in the first place.
Different problems will require different levels of decentralization to solve, and very rare are the systems that are 100% decentralized, even if they are perceived to be so.
Once the value proposition is solidified, the solution needs to be accessible and intuitive to use. In the case of consumer-oriented products, including games that are not hardcore – I also highly believe that 99% of the offerings have to be with a mobile-device-first mindset.
What significant opportunities do you see on the horizon? And how do you see this impacting your project?
The Open Metaverse. The Metaverse (with a capital ‘M’) does not exist yet, but when it finally takes shape – it will comprise both closed and open worlds.
At Upland, we are huge believers that the open worlds that endorse an open economy, true ownership, and community governance will be the biggest and most exciting part of it. Upland is building to become the de-facto, non-fiction part of The Metaverse, which is mapped to the real world.
Upland is the top game on EOS. Can you share with us why you chose this blockchain? And what does this mean for end users?
Upland players don’t have to know which blockchain runs in the backend unless they decide to dig deep in. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort to come up with a holistic solution that obfuscates the complexities of blockchain for the end user while still adhering to all the benefits of true ownership.
We chose EOS because it answered all our needs and gave us the necessary tools to make Upland into a product that is ready for mass adoption. The technology allowed us to achieve some massive numbers, such as over 4 million NFTs minted with highs of well over 50 NFTs minted per second (alongside hundreds of transactions pushed per second), and all of that with zero gas fees paid by our users.
It also allowed us to code innovative features such as our free-to-play model, which allows new players to experience Upland before they enjoy True Ownership.
We are at the early stages of mainstream blockchain technology adoption, which leads early adopters to trend towards one blockchain or another.
Today consumers are agnostic about whether a game is run on AWS or Google Cloud in the back end. I genuinely believe that as further mass adoption happens, they will still be agnostic of which blockchain is being utilized, but users will focus on the value proposition that is delivered with the use of blockchain.
Virtual property trading games are available in the Web2 world as well. But what are Upland’s features not seen in Web2 or similar products from ‘the old ways’?
Upland has built a massive, realistic digital economy with an open market that is powered by true ownership and the ability to extract value back to the real world via direct trading for fiat currency.
A very small number of games and worlds have that in the first place, let alone virtual property trading games. Upland today is much more than a virtual property trading game. It is a Layer 1 Metaverse. A platform that empowers its community to become web3 entrepreneurs.
Do you think Web3 gaming will gradually replace that of Web2? Why?
Absolutely yes, it’s just a matter of how long it will take. And this is something that can take decades.
My reasoning for that is fairly simple. Imagine two game offerings that are identical in form of entertainment value. One of them runs a fake pseudo-economy with no true ownership and community governance mechanisms, while the other is the opposite. The consumer will always opt to play the latter.
When you buy a physical item today in the real world, it is unimaginable that you wouldn’t own it and wouldn’t be able to sell it. The exact same thing will happen with digital game assets and game economies.
How can people get involved and find out more about your project? Is there anything for users to look forward to in the near future?
Upland is available on the Apple Appstore and Google Play Store for mobile devices and via web or mobile web. It is extremely easy to start, but I recommend that new players join our Discord and engage with our awesome community, which is always ready to help newcomers for a smooth onboarding experience.