Feb 2022#Cryptocurrency

Investment behavior researchIn game format

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Marat Gizatullin

Analyst, R&D

Aliaksandr Dabranau

Research Advisor

Sonya Ovchinnikova

Market Research Recruiter


21 min

Key insights

  1. Investment taking into account the consolidated opinion of a group of investors as a whole is more effective than a single investment (profitability of a single investment is 13%, profitability taking into account the opinion of a group is 49%): 
    - The opinion of the group will allow paying attention to the details of the projects that were not touched upon in the first study; 
    - Project discussions can also demonstrate an unexpected and attractive investment decision; 
    - Also, by participating or taking into account the group discussion, one can more accurately determine the most profitable project from the set.
  2. The key factors for choosing and studying a project, in addition to market data, are the parameters of the project’s “inner kitchen” - its transparency, understandable mechanics of functioning and generating profits, and user generation.
  3. Project attractiveness factors vary depending on their scope: for the Blockchain and Exchange project categories, reliability indicators of technologies, platforms, and infrastructure mechanics, as well as established partnerships, are decisive. For the GameFi and Meme projects, it is the decisive factor behind the virality of the projects.
  4. Group decision is an extremely ambiguous tool. The basics of DAO principles allow one to build the most effective communication according to two advantageous strategies: a deep review of each project or selection by key weaknesses. The first strategy is better suited for a small set of projects, and the second  is suited for working with an array. Analytical and logical arguments are important. They allow you to adjust the willingness to take risks. However, the group is more susceptible to misconceptions and biases that do not correlate with real data, making this practice potentially dangerous for making high-risk decisions.
  5. Projects of different market categories are recognized only on a general scale (yield less than 0%, more than 0%). However, group selection helps to distinguish high-yielding projects from less profitable ones.

Study Description

Research questions

  1. Do the bases for distributing the amounts of a public fund and a private portfolio differ?
  2. What do investors proceed from when forming an investment decision, in addition to information about profitability?
  3. What are the factors of interest in crypto projects starting in 2021?
  4. How is a group investment decision formed?
  5. Are high-tier and mid-tier projects recognized by investors?


The study was implemented in the format of game focus groups, in which the respondents were required to

  1. Distribute the private portfolio concerning the proposed projects;
  2. Consolidate distribution of the total portfolio in relation to the proposed projects;
  3. Justify their investment choice.

The audience of the study is investors in crypto projects with different crypto investment experiences and levels of investment from the CIS region. For the study, a sample of available respondents (N=100) was formed, among which groups were formed for conducting gaming sessions (N=16, +6 people for conducting a test session).

Sample structure, % of the volume of each group (N sample = 100, N participants = 16)

In total, 4 sessions of focus groups were held within the framework of the study: test + 3 research groups.

Crypto investment experience






            Up to 1 year






            1 to 2 years






            From 2 years and more












Game Design

Before the start of the focus group, the respondents were given a universal task - to maximize profits through the distribution of investments between projects from the proposed set of projects (10 text descriptions for each session). To do this, all participants were awarded 200 game tokens (the equivalent of $25), distributed in two portfolios:

  • 100 tokens in a personal portfolio (for private investment)
  • 100 tokens - part of the general fund for subsequent group investment

The aim of the game for respondents was to identify the most profitable projects for long-term investment (1 year).

The results of the investment at the end of the game were converted into rewards for participation (thus, the maximum reward for 1 participant would be $50).

The database of descriptions of crypto projects for all games has 40 descriptions in key areas selected by experts. Among them:

  • DeFi
  • Blockchain
  • Gaming
  • MEME
  • Exchange

For each session, a quasi-randomized sample of 10 projects was formed. Each random game set of projects included all areas and all levels of profitability. Each project was assigned an identification number (from 1 to 10).


1. Do the bases for distributing the amounts of a public fund and a private portfolio differ?

When comparing the amounts themselves distributed privately and publicly, the discrepancies are insignificant. However, when compared with the game’s dynamics, the following pattern is noticeable - the respondents, when reviewing their portfolio, tend to approach the group’s choice.

The size of the investor sample depending on the chosen category of the project at each stage of the game, % of the size of each group (N participants = 22, taking into account the test group). After the group discussion, the participants who viewed the choice approach the values of the group, which brings them an increase in profitability

Evaluation of each session showed that changing the decision brought each investor an average of 15% benefit. Along with this, investors describe the group decision as a useful reflection:

Apparently, he came to this conclusion while speaking (Respondent No. 5)

Assertion in own choice (Respondent #22)

I analyzed the project more closely (Respondent #21)

Changed the ratio of numbers (Respondent #16)

And in connection with the acquaintance with the opinion of other participants:

Discussion of projects together with the team, disclosure of some topics in the discussion (Respondent No. 9)

Focus group participant indicated as reliable (international, high volume) (Respondent #11)

In 10 [project], I did not take into account the stage of the project. Therefore it was distributed in 5 [project] since the projects are essentially a bit similar. (Respondent #13)

Group discussion. Listened to the opinion of other participants (Respondent No. 14)

Discussion, learned more about the first token (Respondent #18)

At the level of the conducted groups, there are no significant differences between the amounts distributed both in the public round of investments and in the personal round. However, subsequent coordination of the choice in accordance with the group decision allows using third-party expertise to make a more informed investment decision.

2. What do investors proceed from when forming an investment decision, in addition to information about profitability?

One of the most important and determining factors in making an investment, regardless of the type of market, is market data. However, in addition to them, when studying projects, crypto investors also pay attention to: 

  • Project team

Partners, team, audits, user base (Respondent #1)

Funds, roadmap, team, idea (Respondent #4)

The sixth [project], I think, is cool, because, firstly, there are obviously good developers there, that is, a normal team. If a normal team, then this is already 50% of success, in my opinion, and it is a fancy DeFi exchange. So this is what I was talking about. Various leverage and all these gadgets of centralized exchanges. In DeFi, it will be very interesting for professionals and allows, firstly, anonymously, and, secondly, as if in theory it solves a lot of things. (Respondent #4)

  • Project transparency. Allows one to understand the team's involvement in the long-term development of the project.
  • Active development of the project. Promotes confidence in the prospects of the project, in its support from the project team.

Social weight, community support, strong personalities, development according to the roadmap, active life, emotional background around the project (Respondent No. 15)

What is the project related to, in what area, per team, openness, capitalization, emission (Respondent No. 8)

  • Understanding the mechanics of the project and stability.

[What do you pay attention to?] How much does he understand the principle of operation of the prop and how much the user needs it (does it evoke emotions, does it bring benefits, does it respond intuitively) (Respondent No. 2)

What problem does the project solve? (Respondent #20)

But there are 30 thousand coins in total. I remind you that our goal is to earn more grandmas [limited issue, approx. researcher]. (Respondent #2)

Yes, but here, on the other hand, the cryptocurrency is not mined through traditional mining, and you get, roughly speaking, more money for putting money into the project. (Respondent #6)

The project does not respond to me 10, because, firstly, it is a little difficult for me. In general, I am such an investor, where I need to be clear. (Respondent #3)

  • Project innovation.

In short, I would vote for it. Well, why did I explain? Because, as it were, this is something that is not on the market - this is uniqueness, this is the development of a decentralized history and a normal team. (Respondent #4)

The most common barriers for crypto investors based on the results of the focus groups are:

  • Lack of mechanics that solve the user's problem.

This is generally against the policy of the crypto, and I am strongly against such projects[…]. If you support the promotion of projects that do not have any technology behind them, this is downright collapse and failure (Respondent No. 2).

By the way, about games - my personal attitude is that they, as it were, also do not carry much benefit. (Respondent #6)

  • Anonymity, closeness of project teams.

For example, I am still against anonymous teams that we do not know, who can generally scam and take money at any time. (Respondent #6)

  • Lack of partners.

It is probably not worth considering projects that do not have any known partners at all or have not been audited at least some. (Respondent #5)

  • Yet another type of project that does not provide a unique experience.

Let's look at project number 6. Decentralized exchange, Ethereum, there are standard tools on the platform. It seems to me that this is just an ordinary classic DEX, of which there are many, and you should not expect anything supernatural from it. (Respondent #5)

And secondly, I don’t see a direct problem as a user of cryptocurrencies, which would help me here in some way. (Respondent #3)

3. What are the factors of interest in crypto projects starting in 2021?

An assessment of the distribution of investments by different types of projects demonstrates overwhelming interest in three types of projects: Exchange, Blockchain and Gaming.

The preferences of project types are almost identical when comparing group and individual investment decisions, which allows us to conclude that there is a limited number of sustainable investment justification models, the main of which are:

  • Rationale - all arguments based on argumentation, appeals to the methods of project description accepted in the industry (analysis of the market, demand, technologies)
  • Expectations/perceptions - arguments related to the alleged qualities of the object
  • Preferences - personal inclinations to recommend/support one direction or another

When making individual investments, respondents were asked to explain why they chose a particular project. Although the justifications were made individually without communication between the participants, the statements of investors are combined into several stable stories.

Justifications for private investments allow us to draw the following picture of expectations from projects on the crypto market:

The mentioned factors of interest concerning the types of projects are arranged as follows:


  • The quality of blockchain mechanics

PoH is a strong advantage for cryptocurrencies (Respondent #3)

Proof of History (PoH) seems like one of the promising blockchains to me (Respondent #6)

  • Decentralization, technology

support projects that form a decentralized economy and support the idea of developing emerging markets :) I think such tokens will be in demand in the future and in large numbers. (Respondent #11)

  • The prospects of the technologies on which the project is based
  • The quality of the project mechanics
  • Integrity, team qualities (safety, trust, ethics)

You can deploy your own blockchains, a very technological company, the creators are trustworthy. (Respondent #10)

  • Financial management

Focus on the economy, okay. Conducted ICO, attracted investments (Respondent No. 12)

  • The prospects/relevance of the project

The project is obviously at the take-off point. A high degree of readiness to interact with traditional finance allows it to become a leader in the industry in the shortest possible time. (Respondent #14)


  • Project reliability

The project was also funded by Binance Labs, Galaxy Digital, Greenfield One, Libertus Capital, Dragonfly Capital, FTX, IOSG, LAUNCHub Ventures, and Divergence Ventures. (Respondent #3)

  • The quality of the project mechanics
  • The prospects of the technologies on which the project is based
  • Quality of financial management
  • The prospects/relevance of the project
  • Direct project type preference
  • Integrity, team qualities

The team has been holding on for a long time (since 2014), the exchange has not been hacked before, which means it has quite good security, and a large number of currency pairs should provide good profits for the exchange itself if they advertise themselves correctly. (Respondent #12)


  • Risk preference

Because memecoins are on the wave of popularity of Shiba and Doge felt pretty good, I guess it’s worth leaving part of the portfolio for them, based on unexpected growth (Respondent No. 4)

There is no logical explanation, just wanted to; group tokens will be distributed in a smart way, I want to distribute mine in a stupid way (Respondent No. 15)

  • The prospects/relevance of the project
  • The prospects of the technologies on which the project is based
  • The quality of the project mechanics

The user base has over 1,000,000 token holders. The token works on the principle of distributing the commission as an incentive, thereby stimulating regular holders. + gaming platform in the plans (Respondent #8)


  • Decentralization, technology
  • The quality of the project mechanics
  • Integrity, team qualities


  • The prospects of the technologies on which the project is based

For me personally, the direction of games responds. […] Because I have this understanding that people, no matter what the market is bearish or bullish, they will still play one way or another. Well, tokens are now being distributed there - to the gaming industry - quite quickly, so game projects are [interesting] for me; I have now focused on them. (Respondent #3)

  • Direct project type preference
  • risk preference

Among the factors seen in all types of projects as a rationale for the purchase, the following stand out in particular:

  • Ideas about the prospects of technologies on which the project exists
  • Ideas about the prospects/demand for the audience
  • Risk preference
  • Decentralization, technologies, project philosophy
  • Team Ideas

The reliability and mechanics of the blockchain are designated as the most important for projects in the Blockchain and Exchange areas and are found only to justify the choice of projects from this area.

Tip: Positioning a product as investment-attractive can be built through the formation of “rational narratives” (understanding the “target action” as the only correct one) through the most appropriate grounds for each type of project:

  • for Blockchain and Exchange - through the advantages and reliability of the infrastructure
  • for DeFi - through the philosophy of decentralization and team qualities
  • for Gaming and Meme - through the expectation of increased attention to the project, virality and innovation / innovative solution

4. How is a group investment decision formed?

For the period of the group investment decision, the same negotiation scenario was reproduced in all gaming sessions:

  1. Define a pool of projects for investment
  2. Clarification of fund shares

At the same time, step No. 1 was implemented mainly by two dominant strategies for discussing projects - “ culling ” and “ examination ”.

The examination strategy is a detailed analysis and discussion of each submitted project. Among the advantages of this strategy:

  • A detailed discussion of the entire pool allows one to pay attention to all aspects of projects
  • An approximate understanding of the level of investment can be obtained immediately after the analysis of the project

Among the disadvantages of such a strategy:

  • Requires a lot of commitment
  • Demanding of temporary resources
  • Lack of overall coordination in the studied aspects of projects makes it difficult to compare projects
  • Too much information can hinder decision making

The culling strategy is the search and identification of outsiders among the submitted projects. The benefits of this strategy include:

  • Critical analysis of the weak areas of projects - focusing on the shortcomings allows a more rigorous approach to project evaluation
  • Exclusion of projects that cause great doubts allows you to reduce the monitored pool and optimize temporary resources

Among the disadvantages of such a strategy:

  • Cons and shortcomings are not always possible to compare between projects
  • Emphasis on the negative aspects can distract from the advantages of certain projects, you can miss a promising project
  • Some aspects of the projects can be qualified as flaws (wrongly, due to perceptions/prejudices, etc.)

Tip: With many projects, it would be better to follow the “culling” strategy. While choosing a single metric for comparing projects (for example, project technology flaws, audience size, etc.), the main thing is that these are transparently defined and comparable criteria).

Communication when discussing projects was generally cooperative in nature, largely because the participants had a common goal of communication - to make a profitable investment. The most stable oppositions of comparison are the sustainability of the project and its prospects:

A series of focus groups conducted demonstrated two tactics in determining the amount of funds for each investment: balanced and aggressive.

The first tactic is a balanced investment tactic for distributing funds, according to investment rationales:

  • The largest part is directed to a priority project with a sustainable infrastructure - Exchange, Blockchain (up to 50% of the fund)
  • The middle part is directed to promising projects with development potential - DeFi, GameFi(from 25% to 40% of the fund)
  • The minimum part of the tokens is sent to projects that were qualified as "high-risk" on the one hand and "very promising" on the other - Gaming, MEME / NFT (up to 20% of the fund)

The second tactic involves a more aggressive way of distributing the funds of the fund:

  • The largest part goes to the viral project - MEME, GameFi (up to 40% of the fund)
  • The remaining parts are distributed approximately equally between projects with reliable infrastructure - DeFi, Exchange, Blockchain (up to 30% of the fund for each project)

That is, how do we distribute 40/30/30, right? Let's put 40 in the third one, which is the number 3 [MEME], and 30 each in 6 and 9, because they are basically the same topic [DeFi and Exchange]. (Respondent #4)

Shares of the general fund for distribution as a whole are similar to the distribution of individual decisions:


I-th selected project

II selected project

III selected project























I-th selected project

II selected project

III selected project





















To reach an agreement on group investment, the respondents used different persuasion narratives, which should be taken into account when making an investment decision:

  • Let's get into something more stable and not so hype. Well, just toys… (Respondent 2)
  • For example, exchanges (Respondent 6)
  • There, too, there was a very good profit, and moreover, they did not fall so much. (Respondent 4)
  • Let's do it like this, let's put 50 into the first project [Gaming sphere] and 25 each into, let's say, what they were talking about, for 5 [MEME] , right? (Respondent 2)
  • 40 40 20, yes (Respondent 4)
  • I think if it turns out that these are common investments, that is, these are not some personal risks, but the risks of the funds of the entire team , then, of course, it is better to invest more money in a reliable exchange . (Respondent #4)
  • As for the game, I completely agree with those who said before that in 2022 this is in any case the main trend, it will be profitable. (Respondent #4)

For example, in the presented dialogue, two opposite ideas about the “rational investment decision” are broadcast:

  • “Stability/Sustainability” Guarantees Profits
  • “Following current trends, trying to catch them” provides super profit

As a result of the gaming session, the project, which was considered as an "unreasonable investment", radically outperformed competing projects, which were recognized as more suitable for investment (100% vs 34% vs -69%). At the same time, each of the settings used can demonstrate effectiveness (and thus confirm its truth for the investor) in a specific case, but in another case, it does not correspond to reality.

Thus, the role of collective decision-making in making investments (as well as the collective investment itself) is a common and controversial phenomenon in the crypto market, especially in the CIS region.

The main value of this style of decision-making for investors is to reduce the expected risks compared to the sole choice of projects:

Risk was reduced through group discussion (Respondent #5)

A group investment must be first of all reliable, but it must also bring profit in the long term. Risks are minimizedParticipants' decisions are justified (Respondent #8)

There is a risky and reliable investment (Respondent No. 11)

Reliable (Respondent #12)

Based on the results of the focus groups, the vast majority (90%) of investors expressed a positive attitude towards the discussion of projects by the group and the results of such discussion. When evaluating group investing, respondents noted the following attributes of “successful group negotiations”:

1) Involvement in the discussion and participation of as many interested investors as possible

Collective decision with the arguments of each (Respondent No. 3)

The opinion was collective. Participants agreed in communication (Respondent #7)

The variety of factors about projects was taken into account even in the presence of a small amount of information, as well as the wishes of everyone with more were taken into account (Respondent No. 13)

2) Having  an informed/argumentative discussion

Many reasoned decisions (Respondent #2)

One head is good, but 5 is better) besides, there were adequate arguments in favor of the Selected projects (Respondent No. 14)

Substantive discussion (Respondent #19)

Rational arguments (Respondent #20)

Substantive discussion, good logical arguments (Respondent #21)

There were worthy and logical arguments that coincided with the description of the projects (Respondent No. 22)

As a result of a good discussion, I learned more about coins and made such a decision (Respondent #18)

3) Feedback received with individual preferences

The choice of the group coincided 70% with mine (Respondent No. 1)

The reasons for choosing the team are the same as mine (Respondent #4)

Coincides with my opinion by 90% (Respondent No. 6)

Yes, because our thinking logic coincided (Respondent #9)

Tip: group discussions in the field of crypto projects and investments is one of the most popular tools for interacting with an audience of users/investors, which can be used to build up a community of projects.

The most successful (in the context of its perception by investors) strategy for consolidating a group decision/opinion can be achieved through involving the audience in a dialogue, disseminating targeted information and developing feedback on it.

Accounting for all votes and a single-level decision-making structure is not without drawbacks: the risks of the group are much higher than the risks of individual investors. Biases and prejudices can significantly suppress the effectiveness of targeted actions (in our case, investments). In turn, for projects interested in the rapid growth of the audience, this opens up new opportunities. At the same time, support for the DAO principles, in cooperation with investors, will thus emphasize the importance of each of the participants and increase the transparency of the project.

While consolidated group action has been shown to be superior to sole decision making in experimental study design, it is important from the investor's perspective to always be aware and understand that group decisions can be wrong, even if the investor is convinced otherwise:

The majority opinion is usually reasonable. (Respondent #10)

5. Are high-tier and mid-tier projects recognized by investors?

Checking the distributions clearly demonstrates the ability of investors to distinguish high+mid projects from low+fail categories, while project descriptions have been debranded and masked so that they cannot be correlated with real projects:




I investment



Group investment



Changed their mind



Didn't change their mind



A similar distinction is also noticeable when studying the justifications for investing in projects of these categories: the justifications for projects in the high + mid categories are more specific and focused on assessing the current state of the project. At the same time, low + fail is focused on projective assessment, a review of prospects and emotionality.

  • high+mid:

Development of DeFi space. Wide and unique functionality , which will clearly be in demand. Top team (Respondent #4)

The tokens of this exchange allow trading with leverage , without the need to trade with margin (Respondent #5)

Greater willingness to invest in protocols (Respondent #6)

The search for the most efficient routes is one of the most popular directions at the current gas price (Respondent No. 2)

Deflationary model, NFT available, security audited, plan for x5 by users (Respondent #14)

  • Low+Fail

The gaming industry is interesting. (Respondent #3)

risk asset. Growth possible through pop cultural phenomena and digital content (Respondent #12)

Now hype, then - an extravaganza of opportunities for instant transfer of ownership of anything, even for something that cannot be transferred now :) This is, after all, a new river of opportunities on the blockchain! (Respondent #20)

Since memcoins were doing well on the wave of popularity of shiba and doge, I suppose that it is worth leaving part of the portfolio for them in the expectation of unexpected growth (Respondent No. 18)

However, it is much more difficult for respondents to distinguish between High tier and Mid tier projects, which is also confirmed by the sessions' data (see results No. 1). It is likely that the group discussion also serves as a tool to help make this distinction.

Tip: Project descriptions with more actuality on the actual state of the product and its near term mobilizes investors for a greater likelihood of investment.


Supporting communication with users in a clear and accessible language allows one to reveal the project's benefits more clearly. The community for most crypto projects is one of the most valuable and necessary resources for generating users.

For investors, participation in communities can become a useful tool for studying and immersing themselves in the crypto market, focusing not only on project profitability indicators, but also focusing on ways to retain users and investors through a well-functioning and understandable mechanics, an ethical and responsible team, as well as a well-established affiliate network.

The basis of effective positioning is built communication with the user. If the user is not ready to invest in the project, they can be involved in a dialogue, try to find their persuasion narrative and work it out through a description of the applicability limitations and weaknesses of the argument, choosing the most effective and confirming narrative in favor of the project. Absolutely reasonable solutions do not exist - information is limited, so projects have to either limit it or add its missing fragment.

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