One of the most exciting trends in 2021, the virtual land craze has captured the attention of the media as relatively unknown digital property has sold for millions of dollars.
In one memorable example, an investor made headlines when they purchased a plot of land for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the virtual reality game The Sandbox. The reason – was they wanted to buy virtual real estate next to property owned by Snoop Dogg.
While many investors have heard of land in the metaverse, few know about the process required to purchase virtual land on various platforms. In this article, we’ll break down how to buy real estate on four key sites so that you can expand your portfolio of digital assets.
What is the Metaverse?
In order to understand the digital land craze, it’s vital to understand what the metaverse is. Simply put, a metaverse is any interactive, digital world where users can shop, buy, sell, play, or replicate their own physical experiences by creating an avatar.
Recently, investors were shocked when the social media giant Facebook announced they would be changing their name to Meta Platforms. The company’s rebranding is part of a larger plan to focus on developing its own metaverse product. As Mark Zuckerberg stated in his recent Founder’s Letter, “The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence — like you are right there with another person or in another place.”
What are Virtual Lands?
Although Meta Platforms’ ultimate metaverse product is still years away from completion, there exists a number of blockchain-based games that can be accurately defined as metaverse platforms. A major part of all of these closed-world ecosystems is virtual land, which players can buy and sell with in-game cryptocurrency.
Not only can virtual land be bought and sold like physical property, but investors can put their virtual pieces of land into use and earn an income from them. Owning a virtual property allows the holder to host events or exclusive parties and even charge those who want to attend.
Nearly all of the digital real estate you buy will be in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are digital tokens on blockchain networks that represent proof of ownership. When an investor purchases a piece of a virtual land plot, the blockchain network powering the virtual world verifies the sale and transfers ownership.
Two of the most popular places to buy virtual real estate in the form of NFTs are The Sandbox and Decentraland. Although the process for buying land in the metaverse is unique to every site, the principles used in these two platforms will apply to most other virtual worlds.
Creating a Wallet
Keep in mind that to buy property in a virtual world it will be necessary to create a digital wallet in order to buy the native tokens for each respective site. Once you create an account, you can connect your crypto wallet to make purchases.
Some of the best current wallets include Coinbase, Binance, and Metamask. In addition to holding your cryptocurrency, Coinbase and Binance also serve as exchanges where members can buy various digital coins. Keep in mind that a Metamask wallet only operates on the Ethereum blockchain, and cannot hold other types of tokens such as Bitcoin.
Founded in 2017 and built on the Ethereum blockchain, Decentraland is a virtual reality platform where players can buy and sell parcels of property called LAND, host exclusive events, play games, and interact with other characters. Each plot of LAND is 16 square feet, and only 90,601 parcels are available.
MANA is the digital currency that players must possess to pay for LAND, as well as other additional virtual goods and services. The coin has a supply of 2.2 billion, and there are currently 1.8 billion tokens in circulation.
Buying Land in Decentraland
To buy land in Decentraland, you can either navigate to the Decentraland marketplace or browse through a major NFT exchange where Decentraland land plots are listed as NFTs. Although Opensea’s interface may make it easier for first-time buyers, many members prefer to buy directly from the platform itself so that they can see the neighboring plots and the proximity to famous areas.
Keep in mind that the Decentraland marketplace has two different options for viewing available land plots: one option is a virtual map of the entire world, while another is a list format of the available plots. To toggle between these two layouts, you can click on the calendar-like button in the top right corner.
After browsing the site’s options, you can select your preferred piece of virtual land by clicking on it. This will allow you to see more details about the plot, such as the price of the land in MANA, availability, and the owner’s name.
As the last step, connect your wallet to make the purchase. Remember that you will not just need enough currency to buy the land, but to cover the cost of the gas fees associated with the sale.
Currently, the cheapest land plot is listed for 4,600 MANA ($12,746).
The Sandbox (SAND)
Similar to Decentraland, The Sandbox is a digital world where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences using the SAND token.
Each piece of digital real estate (LAND) comes in the form of a unique, non-fungible ERC-721 token on the Ethereum blockchain. A total of 166,464 plots of LAND exist on the site, and there are currently 878 land plots listed for sale, with the cheapest plot going for 3.69 ETH ($10,205).
Buying Land in The Sandbox
To buy land on the platform, you can either navigate to the The Sandbox’s official website, or on OpenSea’s NFT marketplace under The Sandbox collection. It’s often helpful to sign up for the game first in order to get an understanding of how the gameplay works and what makes certain lands valuable.
Keep in mind that the proximity of LANDs to large partners and other key positions plays a role in the gameplay, visitor counts, and economy of the games built on those LANDs. Because of this, certain LANDs fetch far more money in the market than others.
As in the case of Decentraland, many members prefer to buy directly from the platform itself so that you can see the neighboring plots. In either case, clicking on a piece of property will bring you to the OpenSea collection site, where the plot can be purchased in the form of an NFT.
As the last step, connect your crypto wallet to make the purchase. Currently, the cheapest land plot is listed for 4,600 MANA ($12,746).
Earth-like Virtual Land
In addition to the virtual environments found in the blockchain-based video games previously mentioned, there exists a class of virtual real estate not tethered to any native tokens. While this virtual property must be purchased with cryptocurrency, buyers cannot earn coins or rewards with it like in a video game. Instead, these assets exist on their own in a world that is mapped directly onto planet Earth.
Created in late 2019, Superworld is a virtual land platform mapped over the entire surface of the globe, allowing users to purchase any place on Earth. Each plot of land in SuperWorld measures 100m x 100m of real-world space, or about the size of a sports stadium, and each plot has a base price of 0.1 ETH.
One of the cool aspects of Superworld is that each piece of virtual land comes in the form of an NFT, and corresponds directly to a piece of physical land in the real world. Buying land in Times Square in New York City, for example, gives landowners ownership of all the historical landmarks and skyscrapers found in that area.
Investing in Superworld
To buy virtual real estate in Superworld, you can navigate to the platform’s homepage. Once there, you can click on the “Get Started” button, where you’ll follow prompts to create an account. Once you connect your wallet, you can begin browsing the site by dragging your cursor, or using the search bar at the top left of the page.
If you find a piece of land that you want to buy, simply click on a plot and hit “Purchase.” Keep in mind that plots listed in gray have already been purchased (and are not for sale), while those in light green have been listed for sale by other members (almost always at a higher price).
There is a gas fee when buying and selling on the site which usually amounts to around $80 depending on the price of Ethereum at the time.
Another company that has mapped a digital world over the surface of the planet, Earth 2 is an exact replica of its namesake and is made up of millions of 10×10 meter tiles. After buying virtual real estate, owners have the option to generate jewels and ether, as well as deploy holo-buildings (a type of virtual house). In the near future, players will be able to adjust landscapes, build houses, gather and process resources, and rent their properties out.
Buying Land in Earth 2
To purchase virtual real estate in Earth 2, navigate to the site’s homepage and click “Log In/Sign Up.” Once you create an account, you can Click “Buy land” from the options menu. From here, you’ll be presented with a map view where you can search and navigate the world for a desired plot of land. On Earth 2, the smallest unit of land is a tile.
As the last step, select your desired number of tiles. Tiles selected shows the number of tiles you can purchase per property (the maximum number of tiles is 750), Price Per Tileshows the cost per tile (depending on the country, prices are increasing by the hour), and Total shows you the final price.
When you’re satisfied, review the details and press “Buy Now.” Keep in mind that a crypto wallet is not required to buy from Earth 2 as most transactions are conducted through Paypal.
Allegations of Fraud
Despite the game’s relative popularity, investors in Earth 2 should be wary. The company has been plagued by allegations of fraud and mismanagement, with many members claiming they have had difficulty withdrawing funds from the site, and been forced to provide large amounts of personal data. While buying metaverse real estate will always be highly speculative, investors buying virtual land on Earth 2 should take special care if they claim land.