Back in 1999, a little movie called The Matrix won over audiences worldwide with its depiction of simulated reality.
Though most of the humans in that movie were trapped in a virtual Earth, all the real people watching in cinemas could at least step back and recognize the story as fiction.
These days, though, fiction is a thriving industry worth millions upon millions of dollars. Care to have a piece of it?
By now, you’ve heard of the term metaverse—the expanse of virtual and augmented reality that has become wildly popular in recent years. To be clear: that Beast Axie your little bro’s been breeding for battle is 100% fictitious.
You know what’s 100% real? The market value of virtual real estate.
These numbers are unreal. (But really, they’re real.)
According to research by Everyrealm, a parcel of land in the metaverse costs around $12,000. That’s the average price you’ll encounter across the four major metaverse platforms: The Sandbox, Decentraland, Somnium Space, and Cryptovoxels. (Fancy names, don’t you think?)
All in all, sales of metaverse real estate amounted to $500 million in 2021. By 2026, the virtual real estate industry is projected to hit the $5 billion mark.
In May 2022, financial publishing company Curzio Research bought $5 million worth of virtual land in metaverse platform TCG World. To date, this is the largest amount of real money ever spent on simulated reality. (The dimensions of the real estate purchased? Curzio Research bought twelve 128m x 128m plots and seven 256m x 256m plots.)
No need for VR glasses to see this clearly: virtual real estate is a booming business, and it’s only going to get bigger till the next Ariana Grande concert on Fortnite.
Why the metaverse fetches big bucks
If you think these statistics are unfathomable, you need to do like Elon Musk and imagine the possibilities.
See, the metaverse opens up countless opportunities for business and entertainment. As the gaming industry perfectly illustrates, virtual reality provides an immersive experience that beats having to stare at a screen for hours.
With the advent of devices like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, gamers could inhabit colorful environments where they’re tossing ninja stars, disarming mines, and dodging zombies. (Seriously, The Walking Dead was tailor-made for the metaverse.)
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It didn’t take long for the music industry to get in on the action. Aside from Ariana Grande, artists like Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Travis Scott have staged virtual concerts. Snoop Dogg, meanwhile, became the first to release a music video shot and produced entirely in the metaverse. (Trust Uncle Snoop to drop it like it’s hot!)
If zombie apocalypse games and West Coast hip-hop icons can harness the power of the metaverse, industry giants will surely hop on the bandwagon. Samsung, for instance, has already launched a metaverse location that serves as a platform for games, NFT badges, and product introductions.
Other consumer brands with swaths of virtual real estate include Gucci (which allows your avatar to wear—what else?—virtual clothing), Adidas and Nike (even in the metaverse, those sneakers are not cheap), and Miller Lite (cheers to that, but can you get virtually drunk?). Expect more companies to make the jump in the near future.
For now, you may want to think of getting your own tract of land in the metaverse. Let’s face it: the machines will come for one day, and you’ll need a safe place to hide until Neo shows up.