Can we interest you in buying a house that doesn’t exist?
Oh, and we’re not talking about a piece of property on which you can build your dream home. We’re talking about something that isn’t part of our reality.
Confused? Talk to your kid.
Today’s children know all about the metaverse. If you’ve seen a kid completely immersed in an alternate reality called “Fortnight” or “Roblox” or “Minecraft,” you’re beginning to understand what we’re talking about. You’ve probably been hit up to open your wallet to spend your real money in their fake world for things that don’t exist — weapons, armor, “skins.”
Now take all that and bring it into the adult world.
Digital-currency investing company Grayscale sees a time in the not-too-distant future in which the global market for goods and services in this thing called the metaverse will be worth $1 trillion-with-a-T. It thinks you’ll spend good money to put on a set of goggles or otherwise tune out this amazing reality that is the 21st century to tune into a virtual space filled with virtual stores, virtual entertainment and, yes, virtual real estate.
Don’t laugh. It’s already happening.
Last month, pop icon Justin Bieber gave a concert in which thousands of his fans screamed and sang along to hits from his album “Justice.” The fact that the Beebs was depicted by his avatar and the fans were in a virtual world didn’t change the fact that they were, indeed, listening to Bieber sing “live.”
Bieber’s not alone in seeing the value of meeting his fans virtually. Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, Travis Scott, John Legend and more have held concerts in the metaverse, as entertainment-starved pandemic survivors seek safer alternatives than the traditional concert hall.
And if there’s any lesson to learn from the history of capitalism it’s that where the people go, so goes the money. It makes sense — to some — that if people are going to show up in droves to hear people sing, they should have an attractive venue limited in size, scope and grandeur only by the wildest imagination in which to do it.
So when Tokens.com, a tech company focused on metaverse real estate, dropped $1.7 million in October to purchase 50 percent of Metaverse Group, you can understand their intentions. The company is technically headquartered in Toronto, but in (alternate) reality, its virtual and much more aesthetically impressive headquarters is in a place called Decentraland in Crypto Valley. Think Silicon Valley, but with gambling and more neon.
Since its purchase, Tokens.com broke digital ground on construction of a huge tower in Decentraland that its executives believe soon will be bringing in money from leases and advertising from premium brands such as Louis Vuitton and Guici, both of which have shown an interest in dipping more than a toe into the metaverse. It more recently made a $2.5 million purchase to build a digital storefront in Decentraland’s fashion district — and yes, that’s a real thing.
If, as some predict, people are going to be spending more and more time in a reality different from the one we commonly accept as true, doesn’t it make sense that they’ll want a nice place to rest their virtual head at night? To cook a nice virtual meal? To have fun with their virtual family? To entertain their virtual friends? And to do all that virtually, they’ll need to buy the things that make it possible — virtual stoves, virtual beds, virtual dresses, virtual shoes, virtual food.
So imagine a time when real estate companies such as The Allen Brake Team has agents who specialize in showing potential home buyers properties in a world very different from the one we can see with only our unassisted, unaugmented two eyes. Sounds futuristic,right? Well, the future is now.
SuperWorld is a virtual real estate company selling nearly 65 billion plots of land. You can buy, say, the Taj Mahal in India or you can move into the virtual Kirkwood School District. And hey, if things really go well, you can buy that second home you always wanted at the Lake of the Ozarks. There’s one available today on Legion Road for 0.1 ethereum, a crypto currency whose dollar equivalent would be $440.
Why in the virtual world would you do that? If this metaverse thing takes off, you would be entitled to a share of any commerce that happens on your virtual property. So if a company decides to host, say, a speed boat competition there, you can set up your home as the go-to place to buy the metaphorical metaverse T-shirt (or the boat in which to compete).
Yes, this all sounds — at minimum — slightly insane. After all, who would pay real money to buy things that aren’t real?
Depends on what the definition of “real” turns out to be. If something provides entertainment, gives comfort, fills our need for social interaction … could that be considered real? The phone was perhaps the first “virtual reality,” when it took the need to be present with your conversation partner off the board. Emails, chat rooms and texts have taken things a step further in redefining the reality of human interaction.
So when some pretty savvy investors are making substantial bets that metaverse commerce and real estate will take off, well, The Allen Brake Team is watching.