The BBC estimates that in the past year, approximately $2 billion has been spent on “virtual plots of land” within a collection of “digital worlds” referred to collectively and ubiquitously as Metaverso. But even though the idea of the Metaverse as a single immersive environment where people can live, work, and play just as they do in their everyday lives is still a long way off, Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook would be changing its name to Meta was sufficient to cause an odd real estate buzz. In January, the demand for virtual properties soared, driving up the price of land by as much as 500%. Some industry experts, like Grayscale, expressed optimism about the market, but others were pessimistic, predicting that virtual properties would instead be “the next big flop” rather than “the next big thing.” The real estate market in the Metaverse, according to Dapp Radar, is currently at a historical low. This news supports those who have long predicted that the land rush would turn out to be a financial bubble poised to burst, similar to the subprime mortgages on Wall Street in 2008.
«I paid roughly £1,500 for my first plot in the Metaverse in July 2020. I purchased it to display my artwork, as well as to organize events to support both my own and other artists’ artwork.>> At Voxels, one of the numerous virtual worlds we refer to as the Metaverse, Angie, who has constructed two galleries full of digital artworks, tells BCC. Dapp Radar claims that $22 million was spent last year on almost 3,000 parcels of land on Voxels. Decentraland, which is home to companies like Samsung, UPS, Sotheby’s, and fashion label Philipp Plein on a plot of land the size of four football fields and costing $1.5 million, is undoubtedly one of the most well-known worlds. Conversely, in Sandbox, international corporations like Adidas, Atari, Ubisoft, Binance, Warner Music, and Gucci are just a few of the ones purchasing land and constructing experiences to market and advertise their goods. Gucci has also made an investment in Roblox, which is regarded as the most popular of the nascent Metaverses along with Minecraft and Fortnite. Within a year of its debut, Gucci Town raised more than 36 million dollars, while Nike Land had more than 25 million visitors in just over a year. As evidenced by the Amsterdam-based brand The Fabricant, which only creates avatar clothing and designs collections and custom outfits for users of Decentraland, Sandbox, and other crypto Metaverses, the fashion industry appears to be the one most eager to take advantage of the opportunities (and risks) presented by the Metaverse. Additionally, the company has raised more than $14 million in capital from private investors and holds the record for the most expensive digital product sold at $19,000 for an NFT.
What they claim, however, is accurate: the many Metaverses are underpopulated and are only really utilized when events are staged, and even then, only thousands—rather than millions—of people take part, as was the case with the first Decentraland Fashion Week. Even in the virtual world where Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, is investing billions of dollars, the data gathered indicates that individuals “won’t remain long.” Decentraland, which is thought to be the most populous virtual world of all, has only 8,000 members. It makes me think of the Second Life model, which was a pioneer in the development of Web3 and reached its zenith in the late 2000s with millions of users and hundreds of fascinating headlines about people spending hours of their daily lives to digital life. There is still a small community of devoted “residents” on the platform today, and it is still operational. However, there is little trace of the novelty fever that inspired teenagers and adults to try Second Life. A new apocalyptic event or a generation of digital natives who despise human contact more than they desire it may be required for the Metaverse to gain widespread acceptance. Of course, the pandemic was sufficient to highlight the fact that daily life as we know it is by no means a given and that the future appears ready to hold dystopian scenarios in store for us.