Metaverse Owners Create New Class System

For the low price of 10,000 MANA Tokens (or $7,000) per day, anyone can rent plot of land 27.87 in Decentraland, a 3D virtual world that runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Renting the land would give the tenant the right to build whatever they want – a store, an event space, an art installation or whatever – to accommodate friendly passers-by. But the real winner would be their owner, who goes by the name of Beatrix #7239, their virtual pockets swollen with cash.

Not all properties are as expensive as plot 27.87, which is located in the center of the world map, close to where people first spawn in Decentraland. And no one has yet accepted the rental offer on these terms. However, a market for renting virtual real estate is beginning to emerge, creating a new revenue stream for virtual landowners purchasing attractive spaces in the metaverse.

Over the past nine months, brands like MasterCard and Heineken rented plots for one-time events or product presentations and, in December, Decentraland published tools that allow anyone to rent virtual land.

The goal was to democratize access to the virtual world, says Nico Rajco, who led the development of rental functionality for Decentraland. Everyone benefits, he says, because renting gives new users an ideal “starting point” and landowners can earn passive income.

But the rental system also subtly alters the social fabric of the virtual world, dividing people into haves and have-nots.

When Decentraland launched in 2017, people were given the opportunity to purchase ownership rights to 90,601 virtual plots of land, each represented on the Ethereum blockchain by a non-fungible token (NFT). At the time, the plots were selling for around $20 each, but by the end of 2021, at the height of the NFT Arrow— the earth was changing hands regularly for tens of thousands of dollars. A company, Metaverse Group, bought a single Decentraland lot for $2.4 million.

In line with the crypto market crash, demand for virtual real estate has cooled, leaving property owners looking for new ways to profit from their investments. The new Decentraland rental system gives them a way to do that.

Early adopters are primarily brands and artists looking to host events or host shows in Decentraland, with rentals ranging from one day to several months. Appetite for renting virtual real estate also remains low; there are currently around 300 lots listed on the marketplace and only 40 are occupied by tenants.

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