Decentraland is a virtual world on the Ethereum blockchain. This project has made a name for itself through partnerships with high-profile names including Samsung and Sotheby’s, and hosting virtual events that have a real-world component like the Australian Open.
Decentraland is an open-world concept virtual space presented with cartoony graphics, and an ambition to be the largest virtual space on the blockchain. But the size of the world isn’t the only ambitious thing about this project; Decentraland also aspires to build “the largest” virtual world economy in the space.
Decentraland began thanks to the efforts of Ariel Meilich and Esteban Ordano. The founders have since retired from the project but still serve in an advisory capacity. According to some sources this virtual world has quite a long history, comparatively. Ariel Meilich served as project lead from 2017 and 2020.
Esteban Ordano served as Decentraland tech lead, and is also co-founder of Zeppelin Solutions. In the absence of the founders, this project is guided by an entity known as the Decentraland Foundation.
Decentraland is one of the growing number of crypto projects and enterprises using a decentralized autonomous organization or DAO structure to guide the future of the virtual world.
When you become a MANA toker holder, you are awarded voting rights and the ability to make proposals. You can make your voice heard about future events including LAND auctions as well as the direction of content and other details that affect the project.
At press time, this virtual world can be accessed using a Mac or PC running Firefox or Chrome; no mobile devices are supported in the current version.
You can connect to Decentraland in a limited way using your PC with no virtual wallet but the experience is limited and your information is locally stored. You get the wider, unrestricted version of the world when using a virtual wallet like MetaMask.
What does it mean to experience the limited version? You can still interact with other players, you can customize your avatar, and you can see the virtual world. What you won’t have access to includes daily perks and rewards, the ability to join online events, and you won’t be able to log into your account from a different computer.
If you join Decentraland with a digital wallet, you can explore the unlimited version (unlimited compared to the browser-only option) on any computer that has your wallet installed on it. And you qualify for the daily freebies and get the ability to join online/virtual events hosted in the space.
The Decentraland Marketplace
The key to Decentraland’s success lies partially in its marketplace, where you can create, buy, sell and trade in-game assets.
And one of those in-game assets is virtual real estate. You can’t create a parcel in this world, but you can pay to buy one of the game’s approximately 90,000 parcels of virtual real estate known as LANDs. These are bought and sold as NFTs with the in-game cryptocurrency asset MANA (see below).
You can look up the LANDs in the marketplace, be given their coordinates, buy a parcel and even develop it. You can buy multiple parcels, manage an estate, and even sell the virtual real estate to others.
Users can even earn money with their LANDs by leasing them or allowing them to be used for advertising.
How do you buy these parcels of land or other in-game items? Using the in-game currency token called MANA, described as a “fungible cryptocurrency token” (to differentiate it from non-fungible tokens).
MANA is basically an ERC-20 token that is burned to get non-fungible LAND tokens, and can also pay for in-game assets like avatars, clothing, and other features. MANA was, at press time, selling for $1.85 per token. As a Decentraland participant you can also create in-game assets and sell them to other users.
Joe Wallace has covered real estate and financial topics, including crypto and NFTs since 1995. His work has appeared on Veteran.com, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and many print and online publications. Joe is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.