Want to be Snoop Dogg’s neighbor in the metaverse? It could cost you about $450,000. That’s how much one NFT collector spent on Friday, Dec. 3rd, to own a plot of virtual land in the Snoopverse — an interactive world the rapper is developing in The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based platform for creating and monetizing online hangout spaces and gaming experiences.
Snoop is currently building a digital recreation of his real-life Diamond Bar, California mansion, wherein he’ll throw exclusive, members-only parties, according to plans on The Sandbox website. There will also be a music venue for concerts. Residents — who can customize their avatars’ looks and wardrobes, and buy souped-up NFT cars — are able to create their own games and experiences on their Snoopverse plots, which gives them the ability to make money off other residents who stop by.
But Snoop isn’t the only big name playing in The Sandbox: Deadmau5, The Walking Dead, Smurfs, and Care Bears also own land on the platform, the majority stakeholder of which was recently valued at $2.2 billion. That’s almost as much as what Zillow’s trying to make back, after buying too many physical-world houses in 2021’s beyond-crazy real estate market. (Basically, the app failed at iBuying — or purchasing properties based on the amount an algorithm said they would be worth in a few months — due to pandemic-related volatility.) Is it possible that digital real estate is more valuable than physical right now?
Of course, there’s more to the metaverse than just The Sandbox. Towards the end of November, the four leading virtual-land platforms — The Sandbox, Decentraland, CryptoVoxels, and Somnium Space — sold $100 million worth of virtual land in the form of NFTs in one week, according to DappRadar data. The Sandbox — responsible for the vast majority of that figure, generating $86.5 million — just happens to be the biggest of the group. At number two, Decentraland made around $15.5 million.
In the week starting Nov. 22nd, four of the top 10 NFT sales in the world were wildly popular Cryptopunks, one was a coveted Bored Ape, and the other five were virtual land plots. A crypto investor platform called Tokens.com bought the most expensive one — Decentraland’s Fashion Street Estate, which has been designed to be a fashion-district hub for clothing stores and runway-show-ready event spaces — for about $2.4 million. (Decentraland also has districts for casinos, entertainment venues, and art galleries.) Meanwhile, a plot within Lunacia — the world of Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn video game that’s generated billions for the NFT movement — followed close by, going for just north of $2.3 million.
“Brands are scrambling to catch up,” says Corey Herscu, a marketing and communications expert who advises NFT artists and companies. “The next logical step is for them to start buying land and advertising in the metaverse.” Herscu points to Travis Scott’s 2020 concert inside Fortnite, which drew more than 27 million unique viewers at the time, and stresses that branding is all about “going to where your demographic is and doing the best that you can to keep up with what they want.”
Herscu insists that early investors in metaverse land will reap the rewards when massive companies finally decide it’s time to do in-game pop-ups. That’s because the amount of land is limited by the platform, as the idea of scarcity helps determine value. In The Sandbox, for example, there are only 166,464 plots of land. In Decentraland, there are 90,000. When everything sells out, big brands and event organizers will essentially have to lease the land from owners. Some are already jumping in without long-term plans fully in place: Adidas bought 144 plots in The Sandbox a few weeks ago before tweeting, “AdiVerse anyone? What should we build?”
When Comic-Con brings hundreds of thousands of pop-culture fans to San Diego, California each year — or Lollapalooza draws huge crowds to Chicago — brands take over bars, restaurants, hotels, and arenas. Herscu says the same sort of thing will start happening as metaverse communities develop.
These platforms have their own tokens — like Sandbox’s SAND and Decentraland’s MANA — and the more people build up the worlds, the more valuable their currencies become. At the start of March, SAND was valued at 25 cents. It peaked at eight dollars and 51 cents — so anyone who invested $1,000 into SAND early this spring, would have made around $850,000 if they cashed out at the right moment. (SAND was worth around $5.50 at press time.)
As for figuring out where to own land, that comes down to “location and bragging rights,” says Herscu. “There’s a lot of ego at play.”