Three things to remember about investing in real estate: location, location, location. Turns out the same advice applies to the virtual world. Recently, a bunch of would-be digital land barons have planted their flags on a variety of online spaces, staking ownership to properties in the so-called metaverse before the rest of us are even sure what the word means.
As you might expect, much of the real estate is decidedly unreal: Toontownish fantasylands; blocky buildings awash in neon and pastel pixels; realities in which neither the principles of architecture nor the laws of gravity have any real meaning. Others are a lot more familiar. SuperWorld has divided the entire Earth into 64.8 billion purchasable lots. For a fee (starting at 0.1 ether), you can put your name on a famous landmark such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, take your claim to a family cottage in the Hamptons or Muskokas, or set down roots in the middle of the Gobi Desert, if that’s your thing.
Unlike buying bricks and mortar, purchasing land in the metaverse is simple. Sign into one of the leading metaverse platforms (Decentraland, the Sandbox, and Roblox are some of the best known; you can bet your bottom bitcoin there will be others) and start shopping. When you’re ready, make the purchase using the platform’s proprietary tokens (most also accept common cryptocurrencies such as ethereum) and receive a blockchain-backed NFT that confirms your title to (virtual) home ownership.
And why would you become a landlord of your very own less-than-real estate? Same reason anyone buys property: passive income. While the infrastructure of the metaverse is mostly an idea right now, in the future, events and activities within may require some kind of space. So if you want to throw a virtual concert, for example (something real-life rapper Snoop Dogg has done), set up your own art gallery (Sotheby’s), open a store selling shoes for digital avatars (Nike), or play a few hands at a virtual casino (Atari), you’ll probably have to pay the owner of the virtual space for the privilege.
What this digital land grab means for real life is a little fuzzy. Call it a sign of an exciting new chapter in humanity’s techno-evolution or of the impending collapse of Western civilization. Whatever you call it, the ability to leave this world and join one more to your liking will become a lot more real in the years to come. And chances are someone is going to get rich “living” in it—whether in this world or the next.