An Enterprise Guide to Metaverse Real Estate

Written by Drew Mailen

On March 31, 2022

The Largest Companies of Today are Going Virtual 

Major enterprises like Molson-Coors and HSBC are buying virtual land in the Metaverse with very real money. JP Morgan has forecasted that over $1 trillion will pour into the metaverse annually. These investments signal that the Metaverse could be a major part of social and corporate life for enterprises and individuals life in years to come.

Enterprises in the Metaverse by the Numbers: 

  • $1 trillion: The annual amount of money JP Morgan anticipates will pour into the metaverse 
  • $8.3 billion: Combined market cap of The Sandbox and Decentraland as of the time of this writing, two of the most significant metaverses available today. 
  • $4.3 million: Current record-setting purchase amount for a single piece of virtual land

What Is The Metaverse?

If the internet is a 2D space where information is primarily conveyed through text, images, and videos. The Metaverse is a 3D version of the internet where user experience will be focused more on immersive experiences with speech, hearing, and even touch. People (and companies) will be able to buy and sell products, interact with customers or customer support staff, sign contracts, play games, and do many other “real world” activities in a virtual space.

Facebook rebranded itself as Meta in October of last year, announcing that the company’s next big move would be the development of a virtual reality world called the Metaverse. What exactly as the Metaverse though, and what are the implications of this new technology on our daily lives?

Neal Stephenson coined the term Metaverse in his 1992 classic book Snow Crash. Stephenson’s novel partially takes place in a virtual reality world where people’s personalized digital avatars mingle with each other, research new ideas, see concerts, duel with swords, and live in lavish homes of their own design (kind of like The Sims). In Stephenson’s book, many people spend as much time in the Metaverse as they do in the real world. Not only that, but the first investors in Metaverse real estate turn cheap plots of virtual land into real-world fortunes. 

Stephenson is not just a writer — he is a highly-regarded programming philosopher who serves as an advisor to Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin. His decisions have weighed well beyond the world of literature. Now Mark Zuckerberg and hundreds of other companies want to make Stephenson’s futurist vision a modern reality. 

Meta is not the only major player in the development of the Metaverse. Other tech titans like Microsoft are developing Metaverse technology, and a number of companies are focused on virtual real estate. However, other blockchain companies have also come into the space such as Decentraland, Upland, and The Sandbox (the latter starting as a computer game before transforming into a blockchain-focused company following a 2018 acquisition by Web3 investment powerhouse Animoca Brands).

Read this blog post to learn more about how Accumulate ADIs can be used in the Metaverse. 

What is Metaverse Real Estate?​​

As mentioned before, a plot point in the novel Snow Crash is the development of virtual cities and real estate markets. In a move of life imitating art, projects like The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Upland are creating the foundation of the Metaverse’s real estate market. Virtual land in these metaverses can later be used to develop projects like virtual bars, cafes, concert venues, and offices – although some of the uses of this land are speculative at this point.

In Animoca’s The Sandbox, people can buy packages of virtual land and other digital assets with Ethereum and Polygon. Many larger parcels of land on The Sandbox go for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

A Metaverse Before Facebook 

In fact, the current record for a virtual real estate in The Sandbox purchase was set in November 2021 by Republic Realm, a metaverse investment firm founded by former Atari game developers. Republic Realm purchased the record-setting Sandbox parcel, which was the equivalent of 1,200 city blocks, for an astonishing $4.3M. Again, although it’s highly speculative, this industry is just heating up so it will be shocking to imagine the evaluations as more money pours in from the likes of enterprises if they follow suit of HSBC.

The Sandbox project predates Facebook’s rebranding to Meta. Prior to Facebook’s rebranding, parcels in the Sandbox started at around $2000. A month after Meta was revealed, the cost of parcels in the Sandbox had increased to over $11,000. Many real estate speculators are buying land based on its proximity to other developments. Buyers are hoping that, much like physical real estate, the value of property will increase based on what is in the neighborhood. If someone buys the land next to Snoop Dogg’s $450k virtual plot of land, called Snoopverse, or the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s virtual headquarters, they are betting that these neighborhoods will become trendy destinations in the future. Other destinations to consider are close to roads, casinos, and other prominent headquarters. 

Other projects like Decentraland and Upland offer similar value propositions as The Sandbox does. While Decentraland operates similarly to The Sandbox, Upland is more like a Web3 version of Monopoly-meets-Google maps where players trade, buy, sell, and earn a stake on virtual properties that are linked to real-world addresses. 

How To Buy Land In The Metaverse

For your average buyer who is only purchasing a small plot of virtual land, land can be purchased in a similar way to purchasing any other NFT.  You can simply connect and fund your crypto wallet, such as Metamask, browse available land on the platform of your choice or on OpenSea, then bid on the land or buy it outright. The NFT of the land will be transferred to your wallet and then integrated into your in-game experience

If you are looking to buy a more substantial parcel of land, a number of virtual real estate brokers have popped up in the last year. These brokers will work with the Metaverse provider to get you the best deal. There are even a few mortgage companies that specialize in Metaverse deals. As the space matures, more of these businesses will crop up to assist with virtual land purchases. You’ve probably met quite a few real estate agents, but have you met a virtual real estate agent? Not yet. Can you imagine a world where virtual home mortgages pop up so that, as Stephenson’s Snow Crash becomes more of a likely reality, people build a second life for themselves customized as much as they would customize their first house. 

Enterprises and the Metaverse

One reason that Metaverse real estate is gaining traction is due to the major brands that are purchasing land in the Metaverse. The Sandbox alone has sold land to businesses in over 200 major partnerships, including deals with Gucci, Adidas, and the TV show the Walking Dead. Some companies are spending millions of dollars on land, believing that it will significantly increase in value in the future and that the Metaverse will become a new media channel for their business.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)

Big Four accounting powerhouse, PwC, purchased land on The Sandbox for an undisclosed sum with the intention of building a Web3 advisory hub for next-generation accounting and tax services. William Gee, a Hong Kong partner at PwC, called the Metaverse a “digital phenomenon.” They not only hope to use the land to offer advice and services, but they hope to assist smaller startups and family-run businesses that want to grow in the Metaverse. These types of businesses are often eclipsed by venture capital funds and conglomerates and can struggle to gain traction in new markets.

Molson-Coors (Miller Lite) 

Since they were unable to buy ad time during the Superbowl due to a sponsorship conflict with Bud Light, Miller Light opted to create the first branded bar in the Metaverse instead – where patrons could interact with Miller’s Superbowl ad. Molson purchased land and built the Meta Lite Bar in Decentralandwhere patrons aged 21-and-over could watch the game, play darts, talk to other fans, earn swag, and watch the ad – which lasted for 20 minutes and included interactive features. Some of the wearables given away at the bar during the game were later resold for $250k. Miller’s Superbowl event was the largest event to ever take place in Decentraland and the 20-minute ad was said to be an absolute hit. The Meta Lite Bar also had an IRL component that accompanied the bar featuring physical giveaways.

HSBC

On March 16th, 2022 HSBC became the first bank to buy land in The Sandbox, and the second bank to purchase virtual real estate after JP Morgan’s Decentraland lounge. The enterprise will use this land to create a hub to engage with physically and electronically. This move happens as HSBC closes physical locations across England, indicating the bank may be investing in a virtual future in lieu of a physical one.

JP Morgan 

JP Morgan, perhaps remembered to crypto faithful for its flip-flopping stance on Bitcoin, has forecasted that the metaverse will be a $1T a year industry. They’ve planted their virtual flag in Decentraland with the opening of a digital lounge called Onyx. The lounge is located in Metajuku mall. When you enter the lounge, a few things may stand out to you like the portrait of current JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and a roaming tiger. The price of MANA, Decentraland’s token, shot up 8% on the day that JP Morgan announced their entry into the space.  

Meta (Facebook)

Many people heard of the Metaverse for the first time when Facebook rebranded to Meta –a stunning move from one of the most powerful companies on the planet. Meta aims to lead the next revolution in social technology, just as they did with Facebook. Using their proprietary Oculus VR headset, Meta wants to bring people onto the Metaverse for social connections, entertainment, gaming, fitness, work, education, business, and more. Meta’s rebrand has been a boon for all Metaverse adjacent companies. Real Estate values in the Metaverse saw a 500% increase in one month after Facebook rebranded. There has been an explosion in new Metaverse startups and businesses due to Zuckerberg’s seal of approval.

Republic Realm

As previously stated, in November of 2021, Republic Realm made headlines after purchasing 492 parcels of Sandbox land for $4.3 million dollars – which was the largest purchase of digital real estate at that point in time. The digital real estate company is partnering with Atari to develop the land into something magical. They envision that the virtual development they create will be similar to Minecraft and will entice a new generation of gamers to dream big in the Metaverse.

Atari

After pioneering the traditional video game world for a quarter-century, Atari is moving on to the metaverse through the development of a crypto casino in Decentraland’s Vegas City – a Metaverse city dedicated to gaming and gambling. They bought 20 parcels of land in Vegas City’s casino quarter, and have developed an ERC-20 token called Atari token that can be used on their proprietary chain when gambling in their casino.

In Conclusion

JP Morgan has forecasted that over the metaverse will be a $1 trillion market opportunity in yearly revenues. Enterprises from Molson-Coors to HSBC are buying virtual land in the Metaverse with very real money. The Metaverse could be a major part of social and corporate life for enterprises and individuals in years to come. As other enterprise brands continue pouring money and resources into the metaverse, it will be exciting to see how the industry electrifies.

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