A cryptocurrency project that is never actually developed.

What Is Vaporware?

Vaporware in crypto describes protocols or DApps that provide solutions to non-existent or exaggerated problems. In plain English, vaporware overpromises and underdelivers. It often pitches decentralization as a key attribute of the solution. But often, decentralization only serves as a marketing ploy to make the product sound more appealing and innovative than it is in reality. 
Vaporware appears in different sectors, be it DeFi, NFTs or GameFi. Metaverse products have also faced many vaporware accusations, as the technology to deliver an immersive and decentralized metaverse is not nearly developed enough to live up to the hype the projects generate. 

How to Identify Vaporware?

It isn't always easy to tell apart vaporware. Even well-funded new projects can turn out to be overhyped, while small grassroots projects can punch above their weight. Still, you can use a few frameworks to identify vaporware in crypto. 

Research the Project

Many crypto projects launch with a minimum of information. Teams often focus on hype campaigns and influencer marketing to pump the token price at launch and keep expectations high. Thorough research is not a panacea but can help to spot more solid projects.
For example, new tokens should provide a plan for how to execute their roadmap in addition to their vision of the end goal. Vaporware products often miss concrete steps as part of their roadmap. Moreover, the whitepaper should provide deadlines for when the goals are to be met.
In addition, the project should disclose as much information about its team and investors as possible. Vaporware tokens often obscure their financial trail to make it as difficult as possible to track the people behind the project in case a rug pull happens. 

Critically Evaluate the Project

Legitimate projects will explain their solutions in very concrete terms and justify what problem they address in the market. Vaporware projects mostly offer big promises but little tangible information about why their purported solution is needed. Investors should look into a project's social media accounts and ask as many questions as possible to get a feel for whether the project is legitimate or vaporware.