With virtual real estate in the metaverse now valued as much as real-world properties, you may be tempted to buy virtual land as an investment. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the metaverse? Well, it depends on who you ask.
The techno-optimists think it’s the first step in the next stage of human evolution, where we all exist as pure datastreams on computer servers, free of our clumsy, fleshy bodies. (Not sure if that’d be a good thing—didn’t they watch Black Mirror?)
Other, perhaps more cynical, camps think the metaverse is simply another way for greedy capitalists to vacuum up even more wealth by selling us stuff we don’t need…only this time, the goods paid for are virtual. Wake up, people—the NFT sneakers you just spent three months’ salary on aren’t even real!
Ultimately, which way the metaverse will go still remains to be seen; we’re just really, really early right now.
What is clear is that metaverse projects—a digitised facsimile of the real world that proponents bafflingly insist will provide a superior experience - right now looks like some awkward knockoff of The Sims, at best.
Still, that’s not stopping people from dropping cold, hard cash into buying virtual properties, when they could have bought a real brick-and-mortar house. You know, the kind you can actually live in?
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at this phenomenon, exploring how one can buy virtual land in the metaverse. Read on to find out how you can stake your claim in this brave, new, pixel-filled world.
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How can virtual land have value?
We’re oversimplifying things for the sake of brevity, but the basic principle that underpins all economic activity is this: something has value because we agree it has value. This, then, creates a market, within which supply, demand and price perform their intricate dance.
In the real world, value is propped up by scarcity—there’s a finite supply of resources, goods, or services, so buyers compete by bidding their dollars.
In the virtual world, however, scarcity doesn’t inherently exist, as the amount of stuff that can be generated is theoretically infinite. You can make as many copies of the Eiffel tower as you want, for instance.
Therefore, metaverses have to artificially implement scarcity, by limiting supply. Different metaverse projects do so in different ways.
For example, Decentraland sells you NFTs (non-fungible tokens) that verifies your ownership of a plot of land in its virtual world.
You can hold on to the NFT until the value of your plot of virtual land grows, at which point you can sell your NFT, and make a profit.
Another project that claims to be mapped to the real world, Upland, lets you earn cryptocurrency tokens as you play (and we’re using the word very loosely here), which you can then use to buy more parcels of virtual land.
Players can trade their virtual land parcels with other players. They can also sell their virtual land on the marketplace for real US Dollars.
Ok, so how can I buy virtual land?
Here’s an overview of the process:
1. Pick your metaverse project
2. Acquire some cryptocurrency
3. Buy your virtual land
1. Pick your metaverse project
Many people like to think of the metaverse as a singular, monolithic shared space, but that’s not actually accurate.
In fact, there are several metaverses, each existing on their own. Think of them as different worlds that you can only visit one at a time.
Hence, the very first thing you need to do is to study the different metaverse projects out there, and decide in which one you will invest your money.
See the following table for some existing metaverses with virtual land for sale. Do note that this is not an exhaustive list, and we are not endorsing any of these projects.
|Metaverse project||Cryptocurrency/Game token||Price|
|Decentraland||MANA||From 5,000 MANA(approx. S$15,000)|
|The Sandbox||SAND||From 3 ETH(approx. S$10,000)|
|Polkacity||POLC||From 1,500 POLC(approx. S$650)|
|Upland||UPX (non-tradeable, in-game token only)||From 15,000 UPX(approx. US$15)|
2. Acquire some cryptocurrency
Metaverse projects are built on blockchains, and the vast majority of them list their land parcels and other digital assets in various cryptocurrency tokens.
This means you’ll need to first have the relevant cryptocurrencies in order to buy the plots of virtual land you desire.
Figuring out the correct types of cryptos you need can be confusing. Take The Sandbox, for example.
The game uses the SAND crypto token for buying and selling its in-game assets, such as decorations and landmarks.
However, it’s land parcels are sold on OpenSEA, with prices denominated in ETH (Ether).
Then, there are other metaverse games such as Upland. The UPX token is used exclusively as an in-game currency only, and cannot be traded on the open market the way MANA or SAND can.
Therefore, before jumping into investing in the metaverse, it is advisable to learn the basics of cryptocurrency, including where to acquire them, and how to safely store them.
3. Buy your virtual land
Once you’ve decided which metaverse project you want to own land in, and have acquired the necessary crypto tokens, you’re ready to purchase your virtual real estate.
Just create an account and follow the instructions provided. Once the transactions are verified and completed, you’ll be the proud owner of a piece of virtual land. Or, at least, an NFT that guarantees your ownership.
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I’ve bought my virtual land, now what?
What you can actually do with your virtual land—besides flaunting it on social media—pretty much depends on which project you’ve bought into.
You may be able to rent out your virtual real estate to companies wishing to place an ad on your plot of land, and earn some money that way.
You may be able to develop your virtual piece of land (forking over more money for more digital assets in the process) and sell the entire plot for profit.
You may be able to earn a steady stream of crypto tokens just for holding the virtual land.
Or you may be able to—and most people are probably betting on this—wait for the value of your land-ownership NFT to rise, and then sell it for a tidy profit.
The fact is different metaverses offer different capabilities and earning potential. The features and money-making methods available to you may also depend on the project’s stage of development.
Should you invest in virtual land?
Once again, let’s remember that metaverse projects are in their infancy.
There is a lot of hype and speculation right now—part of which is a spillover from the mania surrounding NFTs—and that’s what’s driving the eye-popping amounts of money investors are throwing at these projects.
It is difficult to tell when the bubble will pop, or which project will be left standing when the dust finally settles.
Even the most promising project can run out of steam, quickly falling into oblivion. Or worse, devolve into a long, slow, drain on investors’ funds and patience, never being able to deliver on an ever-expanding list of fancy features. This has already happened in video game development.
This article is not meant to be financial advice in any way, shape or form. But in the name of common sense, we’ll offer the following reminder.
Anyone looking to join the metaverse craze should know that there are no guarantees of success, no matter how fantastic the marketing is or how promising the project seems. If you’re convinced you must invest in the metaverse, you’d do well to do so with an abundance of caution.
If you prefer a safer or more passive way to diversify your portfolio, consider investing with robo-advisors.
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