Virtual Living: Guide to the Decentraland Metaverse
Getting into the metaverse isn't as hard as you think. With a decent computer, the right browser, and an Ethereum Web3 wallet, you can visit Decentraland.
Updated Jun 22, 2022
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Ever wondered what the metaverse will look like? Even though we're still in the early days of entering decentralized virtual worlds, there's no shortage of them to start exploring. What started as a bug-laden nascent metaverse when it opened to the public in 2020 is now one of the largest operational metaverses in existence.
Decentraland's lack of moderation may ward off future investment from major brands and corporations.
Decentraland gained widespread popularity during the NFT craze of 2021 when its MANA token reached an all-time high of nearly $6.00. Despite the end of the virtual land rush and the price of MANA crypto declining by over 50% since the start of 2022, Decentraland is still benefiting from its first-mover advantage alongside the Sandbox (SAND) metaverse.
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Now that we got that history lesson out of the way, here's everything you need to know about the Decentraland metaverse.
What is Decentraland?
What is Decentraland?
Decentraland is a 3D virtual metaverse world created on the Ethereum blockchain where users log in using their DeFi wallet. Everything in Decentraland, from land parcels to clothing and accessories, and even usernames are non-fungible tokens (NFT) minted on Ethereum or the Polygon sidechain. Decentraland features an open marketplace where players can buy and sell Decentraland NFTs using the MANA token. These NFTs form users' virtual identities in the metaverse. Decentraland is currently overseen by the non-profit Decentraland Foundation.
The MANA ERC-20 token is the native currency of Decentraland. MANA is used to mint, buy, and sell NFTs on the Decentraland marketplace as well as pay for other products and services in the metaverse. MANA was originally minted on the Ethereum network where it's used to buy Decentraland parcels, but it must be bridged over to the Polygon network to purchase collectibles.
Decentraland has a built-in marketplace where users can buy and sell NFTs for MANA. The store is split up into a "land" section where users can buy parcels of land in the Decentraland world and a "collectibles" section where users can buy aesthetic skins and wearable items, as well as unique usernames and special emotes they can perform in the metaverse. The "collectibles" section is further divided into the "store" for minting original NFTs and a "listings" section for secondary sales of Decentraland NFTs.
Collectibles are categorized by their rarity, with "common" NFTs numbering at 100,000 in total supply, "mythic" numbering at just 10 pieces, and "unique" being one of a kind. In between "common" and "mythic" you can find "uncommon," "rare," "epic," and "legendary," with each one more scarce than the last. There are also different types of accessories which include all your normal articles of clothes like shoes, hats, shirts and pants as well as special skins and accessories like glasses, earrings, masks and other adornments.
Decentraland land parcels
The "land" section of the marketplace is where users can buy and sell parcels of land in the Decentraland metaverse. Land parcels can vary in size, starting from individual square plots to consolidated swaths of the virtual landscape. The price of land depends on how much the owner is willing to part with it, but real estate will generally depend on the centrality of the location or its proximity to other points of interest as well as the size and dimensions of the parcel.
What if you can't find the accessory you want to bling out your meta-self? Well, those who want to flex with a unique accessory can design their own using the builder tool. Creatives who are familiar with the Blender 3D modeling software can create their own wearables for the Decentraland metaverse and even sell them and make some MANA.
Once you've created your wearable creation, you can submit it through the Decentraland builder by creating a collection, paying the fee—which is currently $500 as a way of preventing spam, and setting the price you wish to sell it at. While anyone capable enough can make a wearable for themselves and other Decentralanders, the catch is that wearable creations must be approved by the Curation Committee to make sure they meet a certain quality standard, are unique from existing wearables, and don't violate the Decentraland rules.
The Decentraland builder is also used to create scenes, which are interactive NFT land parcels in the metaverse. Users can create attractions in Decentraland by building games, activities, and structures to hold events, curate NFT exhibitions, and host virtual concerts. Users can also turn their plot of land into an exclusive club where certain NFTs can buy access to an area that's inaccessible to other users. This is one of many unique ways NFTs are used in the metaverse.
MANA is not just the currency of the Decentraland marketplace but is also the governance token of Decentraland. Each MANA counts as a vote in the Decentraland decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). Users can vote 'yes' or 'no' on proposals to make additions or changes to the metaverse or submit their own proposals.
One valid criticism of the Decentraland DAO is that the metaverse isn't sufficiently moderated for banning things like offensive names. Since a large supply of MANA is held by a few players, these whales make it difficult to reach a consensus on certain issues, such as banning violent names like "Hitler" or "Ted Kaczynski" from being used in the metaverse. While this hasn't stopped Samsung and Adidas from entering the metaverse, Decentraland's lack of moderation may ward off future investment from major brands and corporations.
How to play Decentraland
How to play Decentraland
Entering Decentraland is free, and all you need is a Web3 browser wallet like Metamask. However, it's recommended to use a powerful computer with a decent graphics card, like a gaming PC, in order to get the most immersive experience. While graphical settings can be adjusted to work with your hardware, the fact that Decentraland is currently an in-browser experience does pose some technical challenges. There's also a Decetraland mobile application in the works, and the Decentraland VR client is currently being tested.
Decentraland is completely free to play, and you might get some free NFTs if you find them on the marketplace, attend a certain event, complete a certain activity, or just get plain lucky. Those who are dedicated to the Decentraland experience will invest in some MANA, but DeFi users who have ETH can also buy Decentraland land and collectibles on other popular NFT marketplaces like OpenSea.
How to enter the Decentraland metaverse
To play, all you have to do is connect your Web3 wallet using the Ethereum network and grant the Decentraland dApp access to your crypto wallet by verifying you're the wallet owner. If it's your first time logging in, you will begin by choosing a gender and customizing your character (choose your character's gender wisely because this may impact which collectibles they can wear). You will then be asked to complete a brief tutorial on how to control your character, and voila! Welcome to the metaverse.
What can I do in Decentraland?
Once you're in, you can walk around, teleport to a scene you want to visit, or meet your friends at a set of coordinates. Decentraland feels similar to other massive multiplayer online games where you can chat, push to speak, perform emotes, and interact with your surroundings, but the difference is that everything is an NFT that can be traded and owned by someone on the blockchain. Gambling and mini-golf are popular activities in Decentraland, but the lack of other things to do will hopefully change as more permanent games and activities are developed.
We are going to create civilizations that are indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will cease to exist.
'Metaverse' has been drilled so deep in our collective lexicon that the world may have lost all meaning. Despite its origin in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, the rebranding of Facebook as Meta and the popularity of blockchain gaming and NFTs has given rise to the term 'metaverse' that is branching into several debated meanings which conform to different conceptual interpretations of what a virtual world that is true-to-form with reality really means—or am I just overthinking it?