I have seen the future, and it is disappointing. Word of that confusing future’s arrival in the present came this morning, through yet another press release from Color Star Technology, their 12th such release this year. I was already a little skeptical, as this was not the first Color Star press release to announce the launch of its Color World app. The company had missed previous self-imposed deadlines, and then simply chose to carry on as if they’d already launched the app. But today’s press release announcing the arrival of Color World was legit. The app really and truly launched over the weekend.
As with everything Color Star, it was confounding. I first learned of the app’s launch through J.R. Mailey, a researcher for The Sentry who has also been following Color Star in his spare time. (Sixers fans are used to doing lots of pro bono work for little payoff.) He noted that our old pal Basil Wilson, one of three CEOs employed by Color Star last year, tweeted that “Color world is finally online.” I immediately went to the Color World app and found…the same weird video that’s been on and off the app all year. Fortunately, further investigation on Wilson’s Twitter page offered this helpful tip.
A whole new app! I downloaded this app, which was (like the previous version) not collecting any data on me. This was curious, but maybe they’re the DuckDuckGo of Web3. I registered, entered my name (“Dan”) and picked an avatar. Let’s go through the five characters you can be in Color World.
In the synthwave metaverse of the future-present you can be Generic Streetwear Dude, what looks like an alt costume for Sofia in Battle Arena Toshinden, Generic Grand Theft Auto bad guy, Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon or Knockoff Tifa from Final Fantasy 7. I was also asked to input my “personality” (charming!) and my “designation” (Color World enthusiast). I picked Fake Tifa for my avatar and am under no obligation to explain myself or that decision to you.
With that, it was time to enter the Color World. I was ready to expand my mind, but what I got instead was a relatively tame single-player 3-D engine game—or “game,” I guess, as there really wasn’t much to do. It was a sort of Grand Theft Auto clone in which you could only wander about and jump. No one else was around. Chat was empty. It asked me if I wanted to buy some plots of land, but I didn’t have any money. I had been wondering all year why the Metaverse had a parking lot; I can now report that it is because Color World, for some reason, has cars! Fortunately, Metaverse DanTifa was able to take a hit and keep right on going.
But there are some features in Color World besides the ability to walk directly into the path of a moving car. Clicking on the hamburger menu brings up several options. The Park was not yet operational, as you can see in the image at the top of this post. Another place was the Coffee Shop, which allowed you to convene a meeting! I started one, and it asked for access to my mic, but I wasn’t able to actually meet with anyone. “I Want to Speak,” I said! But no one listened.
The Color World shop is another mysterious entity. Though the HUD says I have the possibility of getting what appear to be gold coins and “C” tickets, I had none. But all the items I could purchase in the shop were for non-metaverse entities anyway. It looked more like a proof-of-concept than an actual application, although I did have the option to buy a salt shaker designed to limit my salt intake or James Harden basketball sneakers. (An Adidas rep previously did not respond to a request for comment from Defector about whether they have an actual partnership with Color Star. The things I do for journalism.)
The final area in Color World is the library, which is where the “courses and other stuff” are. This is an area where there is some actual content. There is a Chinese-language video where, for example, a man named Ju Laitu (who appears to have once appeared on a show called Super Boy) hosts a “Squirrel Mandarin Fish cooking class.”
But what I was most interested in were the courses hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. We know from a video the company released that Color Star at least paid Shaq to say the words “Color World.” They even bought an ad in Times Square hyping O’Neal’s “INSIGHTS ON BECOMING AN NBA ALL STAR PLAYER.” Unfortunately, the application just hangs when I tried to access Shaq content.
It was Cleveland-era Shaq content, too! Who knows what insights we’d get about the year he averaged 12 points in 53 games for a Cavaliers team that finished 61-21 but went out in the second round of the playoffs?! Missing out on all those lost lessons and behind-the-scenes stories about Jamario Moon and J.J. Hickson made me sad. I had no choice but to leave the metaverse without any insights on becoming an NBA player. The Color World had finally arrived, and I had finally arrived in it, but it all felt even emptier than the real one.