Blockchain is one of the most unique and advanced technologies today that allows different worlds to exist within the metaverse. The once empty spaces were suddenly filled with blockchain-powered platforms, creating empowered projects that provide value to communities where they belong.
The virtual world is still in its early days, but with numerous projects hopping in, the infinite possibilities it can provide becomes more evident. One of the platforms that recognized the growing opportunities in this space is Decentraland, where blockchain and gaming enthusiasts can do multiple activities: create, explore, and trade.
Decentraland is currently one of the market leaders of blockchain-based metaverses, but the question is: will it stand the test of time?
What is Decentraland?
Decentraland is a shared 3D virtual world that allows users to create, experience, and monetize content, as well as trade digital real estate and assets. It launched on the Ethereum blockchain in February 2020, making it one of the first fully decentralized metaverses.
Players can freely explore virtual lands, socialize with others, and play games. There are also other unique perks like interactive applications, in-world payments, and peer-to-peer communications.
Esteban Ordano and Ariel Meilich founded the Decentraland Foundation, responsible for developing the platform’s software, holding the intellectual property (IP) rights, and maintaining its website. Before the team launched the platform, they decided to give the community the power to control Decentraland via a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).
How Does Decentraland Work?
Decentraland has 3D virtual plots called LAND, which are actually non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Ethereum. LAND can be split into parcels, which are defined by the cartesian coordinates (x,y) that the community can buy with $MANA tokens. The LAND owners have complete control of their designs, allowing them to create experiences and interactions on their virtual real estate.
Additionally, the application is composed of three layers that help in maintaining the parcels:
- Consensus Layer – uses a ledger to monitor the ownership of land parcels;
- Content Layer – is authorized to control every parcel, including the files attached to it (content files, script files, and interaction definition);
- Real-Time Layer – allows the community to interact with each other using avatars, voice chat, and messaging.
Decentraland also has a marketplace with drag-and-drop editor tools that allow users to build their designs seamlessly. It also serves as a way for people to buy or sell virtual items in their corresponding MANA value. Every transaction that occurs is verified on the Ethereum blockchain, which makes it secure.
Decentraland has three main assets the community can use in different ways, such as buying in-game items and building content and applications. These assets can be categorized into two Ethereum token standards defining their functions: ERC-20 (a fungible token standard) and ERC-721 (an NFT standard).
MANA is an ERC-20 token that serves as the world currency of Decentraland, allowing players to purchase LAND parcels and other goods and services. Every MANA token is similar and has no unique characteristics that make it suitable as a medium of exchange. Think of it as virtual money.
LAND is an ERC-721 token with unique properties that make each one verifiably different from the rest. This is why we call it an NFT, as it is non-interchangeable, unlike MANA. Note that every LAND has coordinates, a record of its owner, and a content description file.
ESTATE is a combination of two or more directly adjacent LAND that cannot be separated by other parcels, roads, or plazas. It is similar to LAND in terms of token standard and being a non-fungible digital asset. It simply allows owners to manage their bundled LAND holdings and create larger “scenes”.
Decentraland has introduced these dynamic assets to give the community creative ways to express themselves and experience its metaverse like a real world. For example, players can buy items using MANA to design their avatars similar to how people want to customize themselves IRL through clothes and accessories. On the other hand, LANDS and ESTATES allow companies to create games and host virtual conferences in the same way physical events are done.
Remember that the only limit is in a user’s imagination.
How to Buy Decentraland LAND?
There are two types of platforms to buy LAND: Decentraland’s built-in marketplace, and third-party marketplaces. Although it is recommended to stick with the primary platform to save on third-party fees, sometimes you may find better deals on external marketplaces.
Also, you’ll need some $MANA to make your purchase and $ETH to pay for gas (transaction fees).
Players, creators, and virtual enthusiasts who want to buy LAND in Decentraland will need to follow these simple steps.
Buying on Decentraland Marketplace
First-time users may need to familiarize themselves with the marketplace interface first before purchasing any items to avoid mistakes.
Buyers should follow five steps to buy a virtual land on Decentraland:
- Connect to the Marketplace
Buyers who already have a digital wallet such as MetaMask can already fill up the required information to sign in, but those who do not have it yet should create one. And then head over to the Marketplace. After signing in, click “LAND” on the screen’s left side. Do not forget to activate “On Sale” to see the available options.
- Choose Your Preferred Land
The screen displays the available options, price, and the number of LANDS. Selecting one of the choices and navigating using the cursor will allow the buyer to see more of its details, such as the name and coordinates.
- Buy the LAND
Note that the prices vary depending on multiple factors. You need to do your own research to determine which LAND you should buy. Once you’ve chosen a parcel or ESTATE, purchase the LAND by clicking on the “Buy” or “Bid” button. Note that other fees are included, so consider them when funding the digital wallet.
- Confirm the Purchase
Wait for the transaction to complete, which usually takes a few seconds or minutes. Your wallet should prompt you to approve. Click on it.
- Check Your Digital Wallet
The LAND will immediately appear in your digital wallet after completing the transaction. Do not forget to check it. Some wallets don’t support viewing of NFTs. If that’s the case for you, simply connect to OpenSea and it should be able to load the assets in your wallet.
Buying on OpenSea
Buyers can also buy LAND that is listed on OpenSea and choose from the available listings. Every LAND parcel shows a corresponding price in MANA or ETH. You can also filter out the listings by type, size, and cost of the parcel.
How to Play in Decentraland?
Decentraland is a vast world that allows players to immerse in various user-created experiences and explore limitless possibilities.
Choose the Game Mode
The first step to playing the game is straightforward; access Decentraland gaming portal through your browser and choose from the options provided: play using your web3 wallet or as a guest.
If you want to make the most out of the metaverse and start a long-term journey, we highly recommend that you connect your wallet. That way, all the assets you gain will be automatically added to your wallet. Alternatively, you can also download the Desktop Client by clicking on the button below.
In order to come up with great insights for this article, I personally had to play the game myself just to get a feel of the virtual world and see what it had to offer.
Customize your Avatar
Wait until the game appears on the screen. As Decentraland launches, players can personalize their avatars with a wide variety of designs to choose from. After dressing up the character, proceed to the game by clicking “Done.”
Once the avatar is ready, you can start exploring different places created by LAND and ESTATE owners. There are various events happening where players can join arcades, interact with others, and win prizes. I visited Bored Ape Yacht Club‘s area, which truly showcased a life-sized yacht club area. I didn’t get inside but I was able to see its recurring theme all throughout its environment.
Players may also go to exclusive places such as the Diamond Hands City to hang out with diamond-handed crypto enthusiasts. You could also purchase NFTs there.
I also took a visit to remarkable locations by large brands like Samsung. It was a massively fun experience, and to think we are still in the early days.
The world was so big that I honestly got lost. Thankfully, I discovered that I could teleport from one place to another, which makes the exploration so much easier. The game has multiple realms where players can warp without limits. Check below:
You can fly solo or go on virtual adventures with your friends, as well as join exclusive events as much as you like.
Even companies can hold large events, party with players, and host games with prizes depending on their campaigns.
You can tell that there are a lot of creative ways to enhance brand recognition and do all sorts of marketing in this medium. But in order to make it more mainstream, there need to be more users. Right now, I still find many places that are a bit deserted, although there were actually more users than I initially expected.
Regardless, it is inevitable that virtual worlds like these will become more popular over time as technology advances and consumers get comfortable with the concept of metaverses.
Creating Content and Designing Experiences
Decentraland is one of the ways for creators to contribute to building the metaverse. In every LAND, owners can make scenes that cannot extend to other created ones; each is treated as a little world.
In creating content, there are different tools and products to consider:
- Graphical Editing Tools – plays an essential role in arranging the positions of 3D models. There are three main tools: DCL Edit, In-World Builder, and Legacy Builder.
- 3D Modeling – creators can apply any third-party 3D modeling tool on Decentraland scenes.
Lastly, Decentraland emphasizes that creators should prioritize planning what they want to build, regardless of the tools they use. Creators should consider the context, limitations, and possibilities when designing experiences.
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