Real Estate Goes Meta

January 4, 2022

There’s no denying that NFTs were one of the buzziest words of 2021. Despite a primary focus of the topic being the authenticated exchange of art ownership, it’s the recognition and adoption of the underlying blockchain technology fueling the sales that is enticing brands and entrepreneurs most.  With digital ledgers substantiating online transactions, a truly decentralized internet can be realized, creating new market opportunities across industries and new ways of experiencing digital life. In October 2021, Facebook’s Meta was the first major player to announce their efforts to establish the metaverse by expanding accessibility to their beta multiplayer virtual reality game. Following the announcement in December 2021, other big brands like Nike have gone on to pursue their metaverse concepts such as virtual shoe collecting and integration into other online platforms and games. While some early adopter brands are eager to be first to plant their flag in the metaverse,  key metaverse platforms like Decentraland and the Sandbox are opening up opportunities for people to co-create its future. One of the latest developments in the metaverse is the sale of digital real estate.

To best make sense of digital real estate and its potential, it is important to understand the overarching goal of these metaverse platforms which is to empower people to play, build, own, and monetize their virtual experiences. Thus, auctioning the land within the metaverse will unleash opportunities for people to have a stake in creating first-of-its-kind digital experiences. In late November into the first week of December, anticipation and excitement around the possibilities culminated in a massive land grabbing event where people spent over $300 million (or 25% of all NFT purchases according to NonFungible.com) to secure digital “plots.” There are a few players already announcing their inspired digital experiences in the works from digital fashion shows to celebrity kingdoms. Read on to learn more.

DIGITAL FASHION SHOWS

Decentraland, one of two dominant metaverse platforms, saw the sale of its Fashion District virtual estate at $2.4M in late November 2021. The 6,090 square feet of digital land was bought by Tokens.com Corp., via its subsidiary Metaverse Group, using MANA, the platform’s native cryptocurrency. The company plans to build up the space to stage fashion shows with various clothing brands. The immersive concept is simple yet still leaves a lot of room for imagination on the execution of the virtual experience. Its influence over which styles will drive purchase behavior is one many are eager to see realized.

FANDOM REIGNS

In September 2021, renowned Hip Hop icon Snoop Dogg in collaboration with the Sandbox launched the “Snoopverse,” the Doggfather-themed digital universe, complete with a virtual rendition of his mansion. In the Snoopverse, people can explore as digital avatars and participate in “virtual hangouts, NFT drops, and exclusive concerts.” People will also have the opportunity to co-create in the Snoopverse.

By purchasing Early Access passes or the exclusive Private Party Passes, people are able to earn $SAND, the Sandbox’s native cryptocurrency, through play-to-earn games, create their own games, get whitelisted for Snoop Avatar drops, and gain access to a staking multiplier to maximize their $SAND. With cryptocurrency becoming a viable currency within the economy, people are eager to increase earning potential while also being able to claim these exclusive experiences. Those with Private Party pass get additional benefits that get them closer to the Doggfather himself with a private party invitation and exclusive access to the first Snoopverse concert. Beyond earning crypto and reveling in celebrity experiences, Snoop and the Sandbox auctioned digital estates within the universe to spark creativity and get more people involved in the metaverse’s offerings. In fact, one NFT collector paid $450,000 for the plot of land next to Snoop’s virtual mansion to become Snoop Dogg’s neighbor. A total of 122 lands and 67 premium plots (virtual lands bundled with three exclusive NFTs) were sold within the first wave of auctions in early December. Only time will tell how the Snoopvese gets utilized, but the potential is only limited by the user’s imagination.  

SO WHAT?

Digital real estate has the potential to become a way for brands to connect with passionate fans as well as generate revenue. People and brands are already securing digital real estate to explore its experiential potential. An entertainment brand could create a virtual theater within a metaverse platform where people can screen shows, earn cryptocurrency through themed play-to-earn games, and buy exclusive NFTs. The brand could also take this idea further by integrating real-life benefits such as offering a chance to earn special NFTs that grant access to VIP viewings of the latest premieres, go on set to meet the stars or attend the premiere. These metaverse experiences have the potential to offer brands new ways to connect with audiences and earn loyalty through unique, first-to-market must-have experiences.

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