On Monday I attended the presentation of Project M, a new video-game as investment opportunity, in Google Campus, London.

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First of all, let me congratulate the savvy business and marketing team behind it. They put together a well though-out package, their idea is unique and very interesting: a videogame that will reward players by sending them real gold + investors buying “mines” in the game and participating in the profits.

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Unfortunately, that’s all the good things I have to say about it. On the other hand, there were many flaws with this “lure investors in” pitch. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the things I didn’t like:

  • Wild assumptions that nobody seemed to explain or question, like: “assuming every investor has 100,000 followers in Twitter” (Say what??!!) and that “those followers they all download and play the game for three years, making in-app purchases” (What’cha been smokin’ mate??!! This ain’t no WoW)
  • The fact that an accountant signed those projections does NOT mean they are “conservative”.
  • Talking about the three “success cases” in the industry (Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Clash of Clans), without giving any context to the numbers: how many games are there in app stores that do not make a profit, or that loose money?
  • Zero room for geekiness. When did we hand technology to the suits (wearing jeans now, so they seem less “suits” and more “cool hoody, bro”)?
  • Billions of dollars, time, and effort in the pursuit of the next speculative quick-buck with another app. Why don’t we put all that effort in, I don’t know, solving real problems or something? Nothing wrong with entertainment, except the fact that a lot of talent is being hired to create idiotic apps, instead of contributing to a common good and higher causes.

The start-up and investment world is quite similar to the art world in which nobody wants to criticize anyone else because you never know who will you be working with/for next, and because nobody wants to be subjected to criticism, even constructive criticism. Perhaps everyone feels it’s all “fake-it-’til-you-make-it”, and everyone suffers from the “Stanford Duck Syndrome”, so nobody wants criticism to be out in the public for fear of scaring clueless investors (don’t tell them that, because they’ve “been-there-done-that”) with boatloads of cash to throw at “the-next-big-thing” or the star-entrepreneur struck media.

Art, as start-ups, is an ongoing process, unfinished by definition, subjective and open to interpretation. It involves many aspects, it’s multifaceted, so even “experts” can not be truly “experts” at the whole subject. So when dealing with “price” and “value” and “market”, all that subjectivity and volatility has to be swept under the rug, and pretend like everyone knows what they are doing.

It’s all fine with me if everyone wants to play make-believe. But where I come from, they point fingers, and call things as they are (or seem). Call me ignorant, but not stupid.