A piece of metaverse real estate is an NFT that provides the holder with digital proof of ownership over land on a metaverse platform. The land can, in most cases, be built upon to create experiences that lend themselves to advertising, socializing, marketing, entertainment, and more. The value of each plot of land depends on these factors, as well as overall market sentiment, collectibility, and platform popularity.
The concept of the metaverse and digital real estate go hand in hand. But like many crypto trends, media coverage hasn't provided sufficient clarity. Just as it is with any other investment, it’s crucial to grasp the idea of metaverse real estate before purchasing any digital land. Compared to purely artistic non-fungible tokens (NFTs), metaverse real estate is simpler to comprehend due to its plain-to-see utility and use cases.
How does real estate exist in the metaverse?
For newcomers to the metaverse, digital real estate can sound like an oxymoron. The idea of physical property and real estate are firmly intertwined. However, while blockchain-based real estate in the metaverse may not be physical, it offers the same — or perhaps even stronger — ownership rights over a plot of (digital) land. Land ownership in a game, community, or other platform is represented by an (NFT).
As NFTs are non-fungible (i.e., each one is unique) and can securely prove digital ownership, they act much like property deeds in digital real estate. An NFT can be traded, bought, and sold according to its market value, which is derived from a range of factors.
Your metaverse real estate might be in a popular area with lots of digital foot traffic, making it suitable as advertising space. Staking benefits and other utilities also boost the value of the land. The specific metaverse platform you're on will determine the value of your land.
Some metaverse platforms allow you a considerable degree of personalization, so you can build and plan your own space, events, and experiences. Examples include The Snoopverse on The Sandbox and Netflix's content on Decentraland.
The appeal of metaverse real estate
To understand the appeal of metaverse real estate, it's worth taking a step back and looking at the appeal of NFTs as a whole. On a technological level, NFTs provide legitimate digital proof of ownership. This is valuable in a world where it’s all too easy to copy files without any discernable difference.
Next, we need to look at the collectibility aspect. Humans have always been passionate about collecting items for a variety of reasons. Apart from enjoyment and collectibility, an NFT may provide tangible benefits such as increased utility on a game or platform.
Another appeal of NFTs is their investment potential, which is why many people hold them speculatively. During strong markets, NFT prices have generally followed rising market prices. NFT bull runs have, in some respects, also been a result of celebrity and media hype over the technology.
Many people purchase metaverse real estate NFTs because they follow all the abovementioned principles. JPMorgan, for example, has purchased land in Decentraland for its:
1. Utility: They can host virtual guests on their Sandbox property and create an immersive experience.
2. Collectibility: Metaverse real estate is a highly collectible piece of pop culture that can aid marketing efforts.
3. Speculative properties: It's unlikely that JPMorgan would have bought land without expecting to either sell it for profit or increase its revenue via customer acquisition.
What can you do with metaverse real estate?
Virtual real estate is limited only by the confines of the metaverse. This gives it vast potential in our social and professional lives. Beyond investment and trading, this potential will drive long-term technology adoption. Anything the metaverse can cover can also be experienced through metaverse real estate. The exact use cases and intricacies will depend on your platform but, in theory, the sky's the limit.
Individual users, creatives, and brands can all design their own experiences based on what their specific real estate offers. Concerts, meetings, trade shows, art exhibitions, and brand launches have all taken place on plots of digital land. This makes metaverse real estate an incredibly important tool in socializing and marketing. Large brands currently experimenting with the format include:
1. HSBC: Purchased a piece of land in The Sandbox in the first quarter of 2022 with a plan to create new brand experiences.
2. Samsung: Created a virtual experience called Samsung 837X in Decentraland and hosted events such as the #RecycleUp Fashion Show.
3. The South China Morning Post: Developed a digital version of the Hong Kong Star Ferry Pier in The Sandbox.
The growth of metaverse real estate
A rapidly growing following and rising sales of metaverse real estate have caught the attention of the media, public, and investors worldwide. According to data from Influencer Marketing Hub, "the average price of a parcel in major metaverse platforms has increased from $1,265 to $12,684", demonstrating a tenfold increase from January 2021 to February 2022. McKinsey reports that "more than $120 billion has flowed into the metaverse space already in 2022 — more than double the $57 billion of 2021".
For such a young industry, the numbers can be staggering. However, rapid growth in market capitalization isn't necessarily correlated with longevity or a healthy market. We'll likely have to wait beyond this hyper-growth phase to realize the actual value of metaverse land. Nevertheless, some early investors have already benefited from the metaverse's growth. For example, a plot of land neighboring Snoop Dogg's property sold for almost half a million dollars.
What affects the price of NFT virtual land?
We’ve briefly described the appeal of NFT virtual land, but let's dive further into the three key factors that determine its price:
1. Utility: Each metaverse platform, game, or universe has a defined utility for its virtual real estate. Some allow for high levels of customization, while others provide you with in-game benefits or stat boosts. If your NFT virtual land has a particularly desirable utility, it will be able to command a higher price on the open market.
2. Platform: As mentioned above, the platform your land is on will define its utility. Beyond that, a platform's brand name and reputation also influence the value of your NFT land. This is akin to Nike or Adidas being able to charge considerably more than a lesser-known brand with comparable product quality.
3. Speculation: The idea that your metaverse real estate may be more valuable in future is often enough to affect its price. If the whole market shares this sentiment and is bullish on metaverse land price, speculation becomes a significant factor in determining price.
The long-term adoption and uptake of metaverse real estate go beyond the hype: they rely on actual use cases and utility to succeed. Nevertheless, it's fascinating to see the journey metaverse real estate has already taken in such a short time. As the metaverse's popularity and building blocks continue to rise, so will its maturity. As such, becoming familiar with digital property is a sound idea for any potential user or investor who is interested in the future of the metaverse.