Time and again, you would have heard about the concept of the metaverse, and how it is a replica of the physical world. One key aspect that draws a direct parallel between the real and virtual worlds is the aspect of buying land. However, in the real world, land is a finite resource – while technically, in the virtual world, any amount of ‘space’ can be developed, built and used at any point of time. What, then, is the significance of buying ‘land’ in the metaverse – and why are companies doing this? TechCircle explains.
What is 'land' in the metaverse?
Technically, land in the metaverse has the same, classical definition that land in the real world has. It is space on a virtual platform that can be reserved by any company to build their own online facilities. In this sense, it is similar to how a website works on today’s web, or web2.
Land in the metaverse, however, is more like a subsection of a popular website. If a website is popular and has a lot of visitors, multiple parties would be interested in having a subsection on this website to exhibit their content or product. In the metaverse, which at present are popular game-like 3D virtual worlds, such as Decentraland and Roblox, land refers to empty sections in this 3D world that can be programmed to be reserved only for a brand – who pays for this.
A good way to imagine this is to think of coordinates in a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), where in-game characters can teleport from one point to the next using such coordinates. By using such systems, metaverse platforms are essentially allowing brands and users to have a dedicated address in the virtual world.
What is the value of such land in virtual worlds?
At present, the value of such land is proprietary – since on the internet today, metaverses are not connected, and the amount of space available online depends on what each platform has on offer. For instance, Indian web3 startup NFTically’s new metaverse, Comearth, sells about 9,700 square feet of virtual land for about Rs 15,500 ($200). These lands have no specific regulation of value, and depend on what their developers choose to provide.
Beyond their prices, the ‘value’ of these lands lie in the amount of interest that each platform has. For instance, relatively more popular platforms such as Roblox and The Sandbox have value for brands to increase their virtual presence and engage audiences. The actual value of these lands, therefore, do not depend on the lands themselves right now – but on what kind of popularity that these platforms have. Such land, though, can be auctioned off by their owners, which creates an alternate ecosystem that determines such a cost. In future, connected metaverses are expected to behave like the physical real-estate market, where particular addresses are considered premium property, while others are more affordable.
What is the purpose that such land areas serve for companies?
The overall purpose right now is to create buzz around a company’s virtual presence, since most ‘metaverse’ platforms right now either look like videos playing within a browser – or resemble video games. However, eventually, companies plan to sell virtual collectibles of their physical products – such as Gucci selling limited edition virtual apparel through Roblox.
Eventually, though, these companies will look to establish e-commerce stores within these virtual worlds – which is why they are investing in metaverse land today. They can design their own stores without any limitation of architecture – and create virtual storefronts where users can walk into with their avatars and buy non-fungible token-based collectibles.
To promote this, new metaverse platforms are even allowing payments without needing to use cryptocurrency tokens.
Can anyone buy such lands in the metaverse?
Technically, yes. Any user who intends to own land in any of the metaverse spaces on the internet today can simply pay for land parcels – and use them for whatever purpose they choose. Platforms today are establishing their own self-regulatory policies, which can prevent users from creating stores for purposes such as weapons in the metaverse.
Will users be able to travel between different areas of land in the virtual world?
Eventually, when the web3 universe comes together, users will be able to travel between various metaverse spaces the way any user navigates across physical spaces today. However, until then, if a user is presently on Facebook’s Horizon Worlds platform, they would not be able to travel through these 3D virtual spaces to switch to another platform, like Decentraland. Eventually, this will be akin to travelling across one continuous world, in how people travel across state or country borders, etc. The primary difference right now is that each platform requires the user to create their identity (through login ids etc.) and these identities cannot be carried over from one platform to the next.