Before Meta, before The Sandbox, Decentraland, and even VRChat, there was Neos, a metaverse project that started out of a love and fascination for the Metaverse. But what happened to Neos? Why has this pioneering platform seemingly fallen by the wayside in recent months? And is it still able to hold a candle to corporate-backed efforts like Meta?
The (Abridged) History of Neos
The story of Neos is a pretty extensive one, and I’ve no doubt it’s been told a bunch of times. Today I’ll give you a tl;dr of what went down, but if you really want to get a firm understanding of how it began, who was involved, the major events that took place and where the project is currently at, then you should watch this great documentary put together by ThrillSeeker on YouTube:
So if you don’t really have the time or inclination to sit through the nearly 19 minute documentary (which I assure you is well worth watching), this is pretty much the story of Neos in a nutshell.
So the project’s origins can be traced all the way back to 2014 when wunderkind developer Tomáš Mariančík (AKA Frooxius ) and CEO Karel Hulec founded Solarix, a VR company that was dedicated to creating advanced education programs and experiences for users.
Then in 2016, Neos was born, a “full metaverse engine” that would allow users to go anywhere and do pretty much anything thanks to a peer-to-peer network system. The userbase was small at first, consisting mainly of people looking to provide educational courses and experiences to people across the world that were more immersive and engaging than simple text, slides and voiceovers. It was a truly novel idea that had never really been explored before.
Unfortunately, Solarix was running out of capital to fund Neos’ development. This meant they needed to find a better way to obtain funding. For this reason, they turned to the world of blockchain and crypto. In February 2019, they launched an ICO to fund Neo Credits (NCR) to gain the financial backing they needed. NCR was also supposed to serve as in-game currency so that people could build and sell anything they wanted.
So with Neos now being connected to crypto, it brought in a whole influx of new users, and so user creations and interactions began to increase. However, cracks between Neos’ developers started to emerge, and so too did the cracks between old users and new users. Yup, crypto bros joined the fray, with influencers shilling Neos to their followers on popular social media platforms like YouTube.
And then in October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta , and of course, metaverse project prices pumped like crazy. So naturally, NCR went from around 53 cents to nearly $9.70. OG community members, who had been paid in NCR for their contributions in the past, were now millionaires overnight.
But despite all the cash flowing in, things were far from good. Tiny cracks soon became massive chasms, and the relationship between the two founders began to disintegrate. Without going into the real details here, the community tried to vote Hulec out of Neos, but they just didn’t have that power. NCR and Hulec were pretty much embedded into what Neos had become. This basically split Neos in two, with one side wanting to move it away from crypto (Frooxius) and the other wanting to make it even more of a part of the platform (Hulec).
And then the 2022 bear market started, so in combination with NCR’s internal politics and people looking to get out with their gains before the market crashed, NCR went from nearly $10 to about 30 cents. Oof. However, Neos itself isn’t dead, not yet at least. The real issue now is…who actually owns Neos? Right now, it looks like two different versions of Neos are being developed, one by Frooxius, the other by Hulec. And so the saga continues.
So Now What?
That really is the big question here. Will the two founders find a way to reconcile their differences and get Neos back to where it was before things went completely haywire? Or will they continue on their own paths? Or will the project just die out completely?
Right now, as ThrillSeeker points out, it looks like the two will continue to develop their own versions of Neos as they see fit. The truth is that way too much work, both from the founders and the core community as a whole, has gone into developing Neos. While it isn’t perfect by any means, Neos does have a lot to offer users. In many ways, Neos is a bunch of applications rolled into one including Unity, Blender, Photoshop, Discord and even GitHub. Of course, as ThrillSeeker observes, it’s not quite as powerful as each of these applications on their own, but the fact of the matter is that all of this is part of the Neos Metaverse, all without any big corporate or centralized entity ever getting involved.
Things have changed in a big way in the last year or so. With Meta now pushing to be the leaders in the Metaverse race, and a bunch of other projects including The Sandbox , VRChat and Decentraland also working to build their own offerings, is there any way for Neos to compete?
It would indeed be tragic if Neos did just fall by the wayside and die out. From what I’ve seen, Neos is very impressive in many ways and allows users to enjoy unparalleled freedom in terms of what they can and cannot build and experience. But without some real direction, further development and significant financial backing, Neos may fall by the wayside completely, existing at best in relative obscurity
Down But Not Out
The story of Neos really is an interesting and sad one. It’s always great when creators build something simply because they love what they do and just want to make the world a better place. But the old adage of “The road to hell is paved with good intent” seems to apply perfectly in this scenario. It doesn’t exactly look great for Neos right now, but personally I’d love to see it gain a wider userbase and be adopted by developers and creators all over the world. If ever there was a decentralized, truly community-built and developed metaverse project, Neos is it.
So what do you think of Neos? Are you going to give it a try? Or is there another metaverse platform you prefer? Let us know your thoughts!
I’d also like to give credit to ThrillSeeker for his research on Neos and telling their story in a compelling, honest and engaging way!