Ever since Facebook announced its name change to “Meta” this October it seems like a flood of “Meta-ish” news and stories has been coming to fore. The most intriguing story came from the media outlet Vox’s Recode channel with their story, “Real Estate Has Gone Meta; You Can Now Be a Landlord in the Metaverse.”
Ok, I’m in and begin to read what I think is some pretty heady stuff. And for full disclosure, in order to put myself in the right frame of mind to pen this piece, I teed up on the turntable my vinyl copy “Dark Side of the Moon,” by Pink Floyd.
The piece opens with the following, “Much like a website is part of the larger World Wide Web, there are countless companies, including Meta (née Facebook), building their own virtual realms where they hope people will soon gather as their digital avatars to play games, buy things, and interact with ads. The emerging real estate market for these three-dimensional spaces in virtual reality — including everything from virtual concert venues and shopping malls to houses and monuments — anticipates a future in which digital property owners can work with brands that want a presence in the various iterations of the metaverse.”
And an actual deal was also announced, “One of the first companies to get into the digital real estate business is Metaverse Group, which operates a virtual world called Decentraland. Last week, Metaverse Group’s parent company, Token.com, announced that a “116 parcel estate in the heart of the Fashion Street district within Decentraland” sold for the equivalent of about $2.5 million — a record! "
First, how is this a record if there is no long-term track record of these transactions? And secondly, this purchase was not made with real money but with, “618,000 mana, a type of cryptocurrency used in Decentraland.” In essence, a made-up cyber property was acquired with made up currency which some liken to a form of a Monopoly transaction when it seems more like Candyland.
Now the big differentiator in bringing this new form of “real estate” into the mainstream is going to be through the eventual adoption and societal buy-in of “mixed reality” glasses. As you may have been reading Meta and Apple along with other high-tech companies are bringing these new devices to the market in the next year which will have features of both augmented reality and virtual reality, or that’s what I think I’m reading?
As with all things one might ask outside of, “WT*?”, might be, “Why?” And the answer is relatively simple according to Vox’s piece, “What makes the metaverse real estate boom all the more enticing, though, is the idea that once you own a piece of digital land, you might be able to make money by leasing it out or selling ads.”
Although I have no doubt that understanding what exactly the metaverse is and what it means for us as we enter another evolutionary phase in the realm of technology it will take a great deal of time to metabolize and process, the natural impulse will be to repel it as much as we did with the horseless carriage and everything that has followed. Ultimately, we’ll find our way through to understanding it.
From what I can understand at this moment is that the metaverse is offering a new type of experience with multitudes of marketing and branding opportunities. As for it actually being a “real asset’ or real estate,” I haven’t gotten there yet.
Hopefully this piece will open the conversation and present many questions that nobody has the answers to yet.
Upon further reflection, it might have been more appropriate to listen Pink Floyd’s, “Welcome to the Machine.”