NEW YORK — The next iteration of the Internet is here, and it’s called the Metaverse.
They are essentially digital platforms with places where people can come together and experience life in virtual reality.
Some see this as the new frontier with the possibility of actually owning a piece of real estate there.
The concept of owning real estate in the Metaverse is both simple and surreal: you buy and own a piece of real estate, but it’s in a virtual world.
“It’s a bit like real estate in the form of a digital video game,” said Andrew Kiguel, CEO and founder of Tokens.com.
Kiguel invests in and builds Web 3 companies and owns “property” on a Decentraland platform.
“Decentraland has about 45,000 lots available for development,” Kiguel told CBS2’s Chris Wragge. “There’s a fashion area, a game area, a museum area. There are parks and rivers and all kinds of different areas.”
Platforms are designed to be used on any device, so no VR goggles are needed.
Experts say a primary purpose for owning real estate in the Metaverse right now is for advertising and special events. An example is a virtual fashion show and shopping experience in a newly built building in Decentraland.
The property owner could, in theory, charge rent for the use of the space, monetizing his investment. Kiguel says thousands have attended that event, and interest is generally on the rise.
“Last year, visitor traffic in Decentraland grew by 3,300%,” he says.
Real estate purchases are made in cryptocurrency and prices vary by platform and package. Some cost the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars.
For example, on the Superworld platform, there are 64 billion packs for sale, some of them for as little as $200.
“What you’re actually buying is virtual land that covers the Earth’s surface in any location you want on the planet,” said Hrish Lotlikar, co-founder and CEO of Superworld.
Lotlikar says the platform’s structure is basically a virtual overlay of the Earth, dividing everything into blocks.
“People know where they live…know where they go on vacation, know where they have a business,” he said. “They come to Superworld, they buy those virtual real estate locations that match the places in the world that are special to them.”
The speculation is that the more popular places will eventually appreciate in value, but as with any investment, there is a risk.
Corby Pryor, a founder of the Metaverse Infrastructure Company, explains, “When you buy Metaverse real estate, you’re really just betting that a platform is successful and that your space within that platform will be used by many.”
Pryor owns property on another platform that he says he has no plans for at the moment and knows there could be an uncertain future.
“The downside is that your investment goes to zero,” he said.
“There’s only a certain allocated space, and if you want to be a part of it, you have to buy into it,” said Claudia Pryor, a Metaverse creative coordinator.
Costa is one of a growing number of women leaders in this industry. She is also a Metaverse owner.
“I bought it as an investment and I also helped some of my friends who are emerging fashion designers or artists to use it as an exhibition space, for example,” she said.
She says it was a lot cheaper than a store in SoHo, but today’s and long-term value is relative, especially in an uncertain crypto market.
“The bubble burst was actually a good thing, because there was a lot of noise and a lot of stuff… that didn’t add value,” Pryor said.
Snoop Dogg and Justin Bieber were early investors in Metaverse real estate, and even in a virtual world, celebrity neighborhoods will always be more expensive.