Virtual worlds, popularly regarded as ‘Metaverse’, are becoming popular really fast among crypto enthusiasts and investors with several projects coming up with incredible innovations, combining virtual reality with blockchain technology and making the virtual space another exciting world filled with several fun fairs.
The metaverse has made it possible for thousands of users to create, move, socialize, trade, and earn while playing games or carrying out one transaction or the other on a distributed ledger — blockchain.
A leading figure in the actualization of the integration of virtual reality with blockchain technology is ‘Decentraland’. A pioneer virtual land ownership platform for gamers, creators, and entrepreneurs seeking to build, interact or explore the metaverse.
Decentraland is an Ethereum-based virtual world that aims to inspire and bring together a global network of creators, investors, gamers, and other users by providing a digital environment where different activities can be carried out.
Users can build their own unique experience, socialize; buy and sell commodities such as LAND, collectibles, and in-game items, and brand their LANDs or estate with unique usernames using its native cryptocurrency: MANA.
Further, the Decentraland is a decentralized platform managed by a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, (DAO), making it in many respects, truly decentralized and a better option for anyone interested in exploring the beauty of the metaverse.
The metaverse has moved from a basic 2D experiment into a large 3D world and now accommodates interactive applications, in-world payments, and peer-to-peer communication for users.
Moreover, in Decentraland, creators can build different structures using a straightforward drag-and-drop interface and Simple Builder Tools (SBT) — easy-to-use tools needed to fill the virtual world with social games and applications. These tools can be purchased from the Decentraland marketplace.
The duo of Esteban Ordano & Ariel Meilich established the Decentraland Foundation. The company responsible for the creation of Decentraland holds 20% of the initial token supply, and intellectual property rights.
Launched in 2017 through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), Decentraland’s public sale raised a whopping 86,206 Ether (about $26 million at the time) to fund its future operations. The project is currently managed by the users through a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, (DAO).
This digital space was first represented as a pixel on an infinite 2D grid, with each pixel including ‘metadata’ that identified the owner and described the color of the pixel. Decentraland’s Stone Age was the experiment’s name.
Before the end of 2016, the team of developers began the Bronze Age, a 3D virtual world divided into land parcels. Using a modified Bitcoin blockchain, the owner of each parcel was able to link each file to a hash reference, making it easy for people visiting the virtual world to download the file defining the models and textures for the parcel using BitTorrent and a Distributed Hash Table (DHT).
The Decentraland DAO manages the virtual world and holds a sizable percentage of important assets in the ecosystem such as ‘smart contracts’, and other assets that makeup Decentraland — LAND contracts, Estate contracts, Avatar Wearables, Content servers, and the Marketplace.
Also, the DAO owns 20% of the virtual world (LAND) and a significant amount of MANA, enabling them to be self-sufficient and reliant. The DAO drives initiatives throughout the Decentraland and oversees the management and development of the metaverse.
Membership in this organization involves holding the MANA or LAND. Holders must hold wrapped MANA (wMANA), obtained by converting their MANA. Each wMANA qualifies for a single vote and is staked or locked in the DAO. LAND, on the other hand, has voting power and doesn’t need to be locked in the DAO, with each LAND token representing 2000 votes. Holders with numerous plots can tie them together, as an Estate token with voting power equal to the plots contained.
Further, holders vote on policy updates, future LAND auctions, operation of the metaverse, addition of new gaming features and items, and changing members of the Security Advisory Board (SAB).
The Security Advisory Board (SAB) is responsible for the security of the metaverse particularly from bugs and other attacks through the provision of smart contract security and rapid response to bug reports. Voting in Decentraland’s DAO is usually created and scheduled by the 5 member Security Advisory Board.
Basically, Decentraland is an area of LAND in the virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts to assign portions of the LAND to buyers (during a public sale) as NFTs and they can be acquired using MANA, the native cryptocurrency of the Decentraland ecosystem.
Virtual real estate is built on the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts are used to keep a record of who owns a land parcel or digital real estate.
MANA is not just needed to buy LAND or in-game items but also to explore, interact, and build on this virtual world. Users must have their MANA token in an Ethereum wallet, such as Metamask for easy transactions within the environment.
Also, the metaverse grants users the commercial right to their land parcel; thus, they are free to build amazing edifices, games, and relaxation centers or to make profits by selling or leasing them out to other creative developers or users.
Creators on the Decentraland platform are free to innovate by creating animation and amazing user experiences for their digital properties.
Decentraland has a marketplace where users can exchange or trade LAND tokens, and digital collectibles valued in MANA. In other words, they can use the marketplace to transact or transfer land parcels and other in-game items such as avatar wearables, etc.
Source: Decentraland - Marketplace
Decentraland was created to show how users (creators and investors) can have ownership of digital properties on the blockchain and provides a drag-and-drop editor that users may use to create settings of their choice outside of the gaming environment.
In Decentraland, operations are governed by two distinct types of tokens: LAND & MANA
This is a non-fungible token (NFT) used to specify who owns an area in the metaverse. Each LAND parcel has a unique virtual world coordinate, a unique owner, and a link to a description file that describes the parcel’s contents and has a digital signature (metadata) authenticating the actual owner of the parcel.
LAND in this virtual world can be as valuable as real-world assets and every piece of LAND is purchased as an NFT, divided into 90,601 parcels — the smallest measurable piece of LAND you can own. Each parcel of land measures 52 feet long by 52 feet broad. The numerous layered components of Decentraland were built using Ethereum smart contracts. In a distributed ledger, the consensus layer keeps track of who owns which parcel of land.
Also, a collection of LANDS is known as an Estate. Thus, buying Real Estate is essential for investors and NFT collectors looking to diversify their portfolios in the virtual space.
The lack of available LAND on which applications are developed to create wider experiences for users results in ‘hubs’ attracting the attention of other users and generating double income for content makers.
Further, with the help of Decentraland’s simple builder tools, owners can design a special environment inside their LAND parcels; through its editing tool, which gives developers access to customization libraries and payment implementations, thus, aiding the design and creation of interactive scenes.
In summary, LAND is held in an Ethereum smart contract that represents the finite, traversable, 3D virtual space within Decentraland. Also, Parcels of land are identified using cartesian coordinates (x,y). This provides users with complete control over applications that they create, ranging from static 3D scenes to even more real-time applications or game modes.
MANA is an ERC-20 token and the native cryptocurrency of the Decentraland ecosystem that enables holders to trade and vote in DAO. Using MANA, investors, creators, and users can interact in the metaverse, which can buy LAND as well as other digital items and collectibles. Users can build, socialize, play games, etc.
Payment for goods and services on the platform are both possible using MANA, thereby driving the economy of Decentraland. And as a governance token, holders can shape how the Decentraland protocol evolves in the future, through voting on policy updates, LAND auctions, roadmap, change of leadership, and developmental plans.
The MANA tokens used to buy land parcels in the LAND auctions are usually ‘burnt’, it means they are removed from circulation through a process known as “burning of the token”, thereby, rendering MANA tokens deflationary, and increasing their market value and demand among users. MANA is truly decentralized; that’s the private key which controlled its smart contract that has been thrown away.
In addition, in-world purchases of digital products and services are done using MANA tokens and can be purchased on cryptocurrency exchanges, such as Gate.io, more on this later.
Decentraland’s native cryptocurrency, MANA, can be used to acquire LAND, or in-game items and is used to vote.
On CoinMarketCap, Decentraland is ranked #34 in terms of Market Cap but ranked #2 in the Metaverse category.
In the Decentraland metaverse game, players can freely travel around the virtual city or space, make virtual purchases, interact with other players and hold concerts or auctions.
Selling real estate is Decentraland’s primary source of income and from this, MANA reached its all-time high of $5.47 in November 2021, when the cryptocurrency market was at its height and valued at roughly $3 trillion.
However, shortly after that, the market lost $2 trillion of that value and fell to about 1/3 of what it had been; MANA lost much more, and it is now only about 16% of what it was at its peak.
MANA is currently trading at $0.865, which is +5400% higher than its price 5 years ago and +5500% higher than its launch price. MANA’s patterns are very predictable because, like many cryptocurrencies, it fluctuates based on the price of the world’s two largest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Owing to MANA’s past performance, current market expectations, and growth potential of the metaverse believed by many would be in the spotlight for the next Bull run, should make it a safe investment but always do your research before investing in any cryptocurrency as the crypto market is very volatile and unpredictable.
To own MANA, you can use the services of a centralized crypto exchange. Start by creating a Gate.io account, get it verified and funded. Then you are ready to go through the steps to buy MANA.
There have been several interesting developments in Decentraland in 2022 despite the bearish condition of the market and the crash of cryptocurrency.
In January 2022, Zachariah Kelly, writing for Gizmodo, received a virtual version of Melbourne park created in Decentraland to promote the Australian Open.
Sotheby’s, one of the leading Auction houses, recently raked in $18.7 million in NFT sales in a metaverse auction which attracted widespread attention and applause from crypto enthusiasts and NFT collectors who saw it as a breakthrough for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Further, the virtual world played host to leading brands in the mainstream industry such as Samsung, Adidas, Atari, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Miller Lite.
Also, major fashion brands partnered with Decentraland to host metaverse Fashion Week, notable brands included Dolce and Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Nicholas Kirkwood, Perry Ellis, Elie Saab, and Imitation of Christ among others.
In addition, Decentraland has held several concerts featuring music artists such as Deadmau5 and Grimes.
Decentraland is pretty unique when it comes to blockchain virtual-reality platforms. It is totally free to explore, so you can easily make up your mind by logging in to the world. Its development team has taken it from a small project to what it is now over five years, making it reasonably mature compared to other crypto projects.
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