It was Mark Twain who purportedly said: “Buy land, they’re not making it any more.”
It turns out the American humorist was wrong — landlords are snapping up digital space in the metaverse and renting it out for profit.
The practice took off in Decentraland. A block of land near the centre of Decentraland is on sale for 198,888 MANA, the in-world cryptocurrency, which is equivalent to $147,844. To rent the plot for a day costs 175 MANA, or $130.
The tenant can build on the plot, and Mastercard and Heineken have used the system for one-off virtual events known as “experiences”. Both worked with LandVault, a company that helps customers buy, sell and rent land in the metaverse, the digital world championed by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Meta.
Sam Huber, LandVault’s chief executive, said it was “basically a construction company but in the virtual world, so we kind of operate like a real estate company”.
Critics have raised concerns that the practice will result in a class system that undermines any hope of the metaverse uniting people from all walks of life.
Huber said while land used to be cheaper – when he entered the market in 2017 parcels were $50 compared to more than $1,000 today – he did not see an issue with the business model.