Fluence — a decentralized platform for blockchain data management — has released a comprehensive report on the dapp ecosystem, drawing from a survey of 160 dapp projects. The study, which contains first-hand accounts of dapp development, highlights how some significant technical obstacles are limiting more widespread adoption of the applications.

Dapps have notoriously low user numbers, and problems from technical barriers to a lack of familiarity with blockchains by the mainstream have contributed heavily to their slow pace of use.

Gaming Dapps Control the Largest Share Amid Poor Daily Active Users

According to the results from the respondents, roughly 27 percent of dapps are focused on games, the largest portion of overall dapp designs. Tools come in second at 18 percent, with crypto collectibles following in third at 8 percent. Roughly 87 percent of the dapp projects surveyed are built on Ethereum.

However, the number of daily active users (DAUs) for all categories are exceptionally poor, especially when compared to traditional applications. In total, 58 percent of dapps have less than 50 DAUs and only 12 percent have more than 500. Less than 30 percent of dapps saw peak usage between 51 – 500 DAUs, and slightly more than 20 percent saw less than 10 DAUs during their peak activity.

Problems Facing Adoption

The survey reveals some interesting insights into many of the problems facing dapps. A large portion of the most prohibitive issues stems from the lack of developer documentation, stability and connectivity issues, and scalability of the underlying protocols they are built on.

Regarding gaming, the consistent requirement for many in-game actions needing independently signed transactions through MetaMask degrades the user experience significantly. According to a quote in the survey from Chibi Fighters, a collectible action RPG game on Ethereum:

For the simple one-tab games, Metamask works fine. But complex games like Chibi Fighters that can be played in 10 tabs simultaneously make it pop all over the place.

Additionally, 63 percent of dapps cited Infura as their primary connection to the Ethereum blockchain, but many required using multiple technologies because of the connectivity and node stability issues that reduced the dapp quality experience for end users. Some projects referenced how the Geth client took copious amounts of time to synchronize, and the mainnet would behave differently than the testnet.

Another major hurdle that projects faced was the difficulty in onboarding new users, many of whom are unfamiliar with blockchain and crypto tech. The concept of gas on Ethereum, setting up wallets, and generally interacting with the dapps was a tedious process for teams to explain to their intended audiences. The small audience of crypto enthusiasts was also cited as the second most common issues in the UX — just behind onboarding users.

Potential Solutions

Fluence wraps up the report summary with some possible solutions to help dapps gain broader activity and support. Deeper integrations of web browsers and wallets (e.g., MetaMask), re-usable cross-platform authentication and onboarding tools, and solutions that abstract the process of using gas are explicitly outlined by the Fluence team.

Dapps continue to struggle with adoption, but Fluence’s report helps identify some critical areas where the overall development process can improve, along with the tools necessary to make building dapps on blockchains more robust.

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