The Value Of Virtual Land

Sean Finn is an American entrepreneur and founder of the Houston-based real estate investment and development firm, Finn & Company.

Imagine a virtual world that enables you to immerse yourself entirely in it along with your friends, family, associates and others simply through accessing a computer.

Not too many years ago, an experience like this would have been neatly categorized as futuristic. The notion of consumers entering multidimensional digital environments was considered the stuff of fantasy and science fiction. Inconceivable.

But like many other once-theoretical advances in technology, reality has caught up. With the help of human creativity, ingenuity and a lot of work, many formerly unfeasible scenarios have materialized. Think Dick Tracy’s radio watch. Think Star Trek’s communicators. Now think Apple Watch and the iPhone, respectively. What’s the difference?

Today’s Virtual Landscape

We all know of the advances in virtual reality and gaming. We continue to see how quickly the digital universe is expanding in the areas of NFTs, cryptocurrency and all things affiliated with distributed ledger technology (DLT) or blockchain.

We’ve now also heard of the digital environment otherwise known as the metaverse. Immersive digital concepts are restructuring our idea of day-to-day life and manifesting themselves as realities. And these areas of technology—which are surging in growth and momentum even as I write—have also entered the realm of real estate. And they’ve entered in a big way.

At first, it may seem a little tricky to wrap your head around the concept. But the truth is, not unlike real estate investors who acquire tangible property for passive income and other motives, investors are turning to these virtual parcels of land for hundreds of millions in investments for these same reasons.

Recent Investments In The Metaverse

Forward-thinking real estate entrepreneurs firmly believe in a digital future: locations that exist entirely online and are accessible only by logging on. These same entrepreneurs are already accumulating this land in the same way they do with traditional real estate. Some brokers are already selling luxury real estate plots in the metaverse. And just like traditional investments, when the demand for these plots increases, so does their value. In fact, two of the most popular metaverses by market cap are Decentraland at $5.6 billion and The Sandbox at $4.5 billion.

Virtual real estate and digital plots of land not only bring with them potentially limitless possibilities but are purchasable as NFTs. In this, the metaverse is providing a new way of participating firsthand in virtual reality while also yielding real-world benefits.

In a time when we can now purchase—and earn passive rental income from—parcels of land in the metaverse, the limits once held by real-world geography seem to fade in importance. The metaverse is changing how consumer technology is viewed. Here are just three possible avenues for real estate investors considering the metaverse as the site of their next venture.

1. Digital Storefronts

I anticipate major brands like Gucci having digital storefronts. You’ll be able to enter the metaverse and walk down a virtual Rodeo Drive, shop for—a pair of shoes, let’s say—and just click to purchase them via your preferred payment method, which will already be registered in the system.

2. Virtual Gaming

In terms of gaming, we’re already seeing behemoth brands like Atari in The Sandbox buying up land. Investors will no doubt continue in their eagerness to capitalize on the rapidly growing gaming market, valued already at $138 billion in 2021.

I anticipate that instead of logging on and having only one platform option, the metaverse will allow you to bounce around from potentially unlimited games. You won’t find yourself tied to only one game but rather wield access to an entire universe of options.

And we can’t mention gaming without also mentioning P2E (Play to Earn), a model in which you play for real money. NFTs will also continue to play a role in this as they expand their offerings of unique products that you can own that are protected by the blockchain, which you’ll be able to utilize in the gaming experience too.

3. Entertainment

In the world of entertainment, we’ve seen such advances this last year as artists Snoop Dogg and Deadmau5 putting on full-fledged concerts in the metaverse. Going forward, I anticipate people will be going to see movies together in the metaverse, enjoying virtual theme parks and other such entertainment activities. Truthfully, I see no end in sight, especially once the hardware has been further developed and grows more lightweight, easier on the eyes and more.

The Takeaway For Real Estate Investors

What does property in the metaverse mean for real estate investors? Well it’s a simple answer: As none of these worlds can be built until people first own the property, that’s no small thing.

These inconceivable ideas of yesteryear, previously observed only in movies or books, are no longer the stuff of fiction. We are experiencing an era of digitized human activity. This is a moment once considered impossible, and it may contain opportunities we’ve never even imagined.

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