Even as Meta makes ambitious plans to build up its Metaverse, similar shared online spaces, also referred to as metaverses, are already conducting big business by selling and trading digital assets.
Perhaps the most stark example of this was when, just this week, a parcel of land in the virtual space Decentraland sold for $2.4 million, according to Reuters.
Last month, Facebook made headlines as it changed its name to Meta, signaling a major shift in focus as the company intends to build a digital world where people can connect, work, play, transact, and do a host of other things.
While this has brought public interest to the domain, the concept of a metaverse has been in use by video games and other platforms for quite some time now.
Roblox, a platform that allows users to play games created by other users came out back in 2006. Such platforms often use their own currency that users can purchase using real-world money, something that has allowed their designers to generate profits.
However, the metaverse we see being built now involves the use of the blockchain, the technology that powers cryptocurrencies. With increased awareness about cryptocurrencies and the availability of crypto-exchanges, the metaverse allows for a bi-directional flow of money: Users can not only purchase platform currencies but also earn them and then encash them to spend in the real world.
It's precisely this reason why people are rushing to claim their spots in the metaverse. Decentraland is one such destination that is expected to host people in a virtual space. When people visit, they will have the option to meet other people or attend events. The $2.4 million virtual plot of land that sold this week in Decentraland is located on the platform's "Fashion Street," which hosts digital fashion events and allows people to sell digital clothing for user avatars.
The plot was sold for 1.29 million MANA, Decentraland's own blockchain-based currency, whose value at crypto-exchanges has soared over 400 percent this month, according to Reuters.
Decentraland is just one player in the metaverse. A recent report from crypto giant Grayscale said that the metaverse offers many such opportunities ranging across e-commerce, advertising, digital events, and hardware. The company listed possibilities like artists selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs), casino and game winnings in cryptos, and music concerts as avenues that could use cryptocurrencies for trading.
Last month, The Verge reported that Meta plans to spend $10 billion in the coming year to build its own version of the metaverse. However, according to Grayscale, revenues from gaming alone in the wider metaverse are expected to grow to $400 billion dollars by 2025. The market opportunity of the metaverse by itself might be over a trillion dollars a year, it added.
Such projections are exciting. We're looking forward to seeing what kind of universe emerges from so many different players establishing their own digital worlds.