In a Crypto Winter, Let’s Take Another Look at Digital Real Estate 0 59

On April 30, Yuga Labs minted their widely anticipated “Otherdeeds,” NFTs that represent digital real estate in the company’s metaverse game called Otherside. 

The anticipated land grab was a hit. Traffic surged so much on the Ethereum blockchain during the 24-hour sale that it ultimately interrupted operations. Headlines highlighted unprecedented gas fees, which rise in conjunction with transaction volume. 

In spite of the technical problems and steep transaction costs, the mint was a success. Yuga Labs generated $561 million in Otherdeeds sales and around 5500 NFTs were minted. Priced at 305 APE each, the digital parcels cost the equivalent of about $5800 at the time of the sale. 

While Otherdeeds represent only one of a number of digital real estate opportunities in the metaverse, it’s a good proxy for other cryptocurrency-based digital land plays. 

So, as the value of crypto decreases or stagnates, is digital real estate still valuable? And what’s the future of real estate in the metaverse?

Defining terms (feel free to skip ahead if you’re web3 fluent)

To tackle this topic, we have to define a few terms. The metaverse is a hybrid universe posited to connect our digital and physical realities. While in the strictest sense, the metaverse is still years from being realized, it can be conceptualized in the context of online video games that are becoming more and more entangled with our physical realities – from Chipotle experiences in Roblox to digital Nike sales in Fortnight. 

Whether or not the metaverse comes to fruition as it has been proposed by tech behemoths like Meta (formerly Facebook) is still in question; however, it’s clear that there’s an appetite for unique experiences and merchandise in digital spaces and we’re all but certain to see rapid expansion and innovation to meet the demand. 

Enter digital real estate. Brands like Yuga Labs are minting their own metaverses and selling digital land within. On this digital land, users can build and customize digital spaces. In Yuga Labs’ case, it allows users to build and interact with space in the context of the Otherside game. 

Other web3 platforms, like MetaVRse, believe there’s a demand for digital land sales outside of the gaming community. The company is building a digital mall and selling space to retail tenants. 

What does this have to do with crypto?

Because digital land is not a physical asset, there’s an intuitive connection between this imagined property and cryptocurrency. In Yuga Labs’ case, the land is being sold, or minted, as NFTs which form the bridge between the metaverse and the crypto community. The NFTs are transparently recorded on their respective blockchains. 

The price of crypto

As cryptocurrency has experienced a rapid decline, it impacts the perceived value of the real estate since the holding is associated with the crypto (in Yuga’s case, APE). 

At the time of the Otherdeeds mint, Bitcoin was at $38,469, already a far cry from its all-time high of $68,000 at the end of the previous year. Fast-forward three months and it’s declined by almost another half since and has been sitting around $20k. ETH was worth $2726 at the time of the sale and has declined by more than 51%. 

APE was worth $24, compared to today’s $6.75, marking a staggering depreciation in the perceived value of Otherdeeds. 

So, what are these digital lands really worth?

A case for digital land sales

Brands are interested in the metaverse because of its marketing implications. Not only can brands have a presence in the context of these virtual spaces, but they can also gamify experiences with consumers, attract younger demographics, and amass unprecedented data. 

Moreover, the ability to customize spaces in online worlds is not a hard sell to gamers who are already familiar with the concept and will spend money on digital items like skins for their avatars in order to show personality and social proof. 

It’s likely that these digital parcel sales will continue, as a result of the experience potential for both brands and consumers. Moreover, some digital land owners believe they’ll be able to rent or sell their holdings to earn cash.

“There seems to be a growing number of projects ‘minting’ land,” says Sami Khan, the CEO and Co-Founder of ATLAS:EARTH, an app that allows people to buy and rent digital land representing real-world spaces. 

“Most investors are buying digital real estate purely based on speculation in hopes to flip the land. But our thought process is: how do we create an analog with the real world?”

Khan touts a slow and steady approach to investment in digital properties, with a horizon of eight to ten years. “Projects that focus on making virtual real estate competitive and stable relative to real world real estate opportunities will be the real winners, and the market for them is much larger,” he says.

According to Khan, the beauty of digital real estate is in the data and utility. “Virtual real estate projects will add value through tokens, traffic and eyeballs, and investors can make true ROI-based decisions on purchasing and assessing property values,” he says.

What about the tech?

Let’s back up to the blockchain technology that enables the NFT sales. We don’t have to look much farther than Yuga Labs’ example, which took down the Ethereum mainnet, to uncover some limits in the technology. 

“Quite simply, Ethereum Mainnet is not scalable as-is. This is not new news and it’s not something that can easily be stress-tested so [Yuga Labs’] only option was to pray that it didn’t implode,” says Beau Button, the President, CTO and Co-Founder of ATLAS:EARTH. “Clearly that wasn’t enough.”

Button is looking to alternative mainnets for his own technology, namely Avalanche, which he believes will overcome some of the early technical issues with NFT purchases.

“The tolerance for technical anomalies is much higher among the first generation web3 users, thankfully,” continues Button. 

So, is there a case for digital real estate? Absolutely. But if you get past the digital art sales and smoke and mirrors, the real utility of NFTs are still at the mercy of the technology that backs them – and the technology has a ways to go.

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Tina Mulqueen is the founder of The Block Talk and the CEO of Kindred PR. She consults with blockchain projects on marketing and public relations strategy, helping clients to secure more than $10M in funding. She is a 2x Top 100 Women in Media honoree and was named one of the top young communications professionals by INC Magazine. She's an advocate for women in technology, and often speaks about the intersection of technology, media & marketing. She writes regularly for Entrepreneur, and has written for Forbes, Huffington Post, Today, Thrive Global, Elite Daily, New York Lifestyles Magazine, and more.

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Foxies NFT Series Launches to Bring Blockchain Education to Women Comments Off on Foxies NFT Series Launches to Bring Blockchain Education to Women 210

Founded by serial tech entrepreneur and blockchain consultant Adryenn Ashley, Foxies.art launched last month with a lofty goal: to educate one million women and girls on blockchain technology. 

It’s an important mission – women need to be involved in new technologies to bridge the gender wealth gap. According to NextAdvisor, compared to men, around half as many women are investing in crypto and even fewer — a meager 4-6% — are occupying jobs in the space. 

“The early days of an industry are often when the fortunes are made — and those big winners typically influence the direction the industry goes in the future, from whom to invest in to what to build next,” says NextAdvisor writer Alex Gailey. “So now is the time for women to make their mark on the crypto industry and its future, and their absence now could diminish their influence — and benefits — in the long run, experts say.” 

The project, which features original artworks by Amanda Beaton ,resembles a new-age Pokemon game. For .1 ETH each, people can purchase and collect Foxies with different levels of rarity. Down the road, Ashley plans to launch a Foxies “breeding” program for holders of two or more Foxies to mint new original NFTs. Each newly bred Foxie will kick off a scholarship for a deserving recipient. 

“Showing women that they can bring their passions to new technologies and create space and wealth for themselves in emerging areas has been the journey of my career,” says Ashley. “NFTs are a digestible entry-point into the blockchain and I’m excited to see the impact that we can have with this program.”

Foxies.art is fiscally sponsored by Ashley’s non-profit, the Digital Legacy Foundation.

To participate, visit Foxies.art.

(Disclosure: as the founder of The Block Talk, making the technology sector accessible for women and other marginalized groups is one of my goals. While I do not benefit financially from foxies.art, I have agreed to offer pro bono communications consulting and media partnership to help them realize their vision.)

Forbes Launches Virtual Billionaires NFT Collection Signaling Media Investment in the Metaverse Comments Off on Forbes Launches Virtual Billionaires NFT Collection Signaling Media Investment in the Metaverse 253

Forbes is hoping to secure their place in the metaverse with the launch of their recent Virtual Billionaires NFT series.

The clever project, which launched to the public on the FTX exchange on April 13, features 100 fictitious billionaires with randomly assigned stock portfolios based on real-time NYSE pricing. NFT holders can follow daily on the Forbes Virtual NFT Billionaires List.

“We’re cementing our place in the Metaverse by launching these interactive collectibles that can be authenticated and traded on the blockchain,” says Forbes Chief Technology Officer.

Vadim Supitskiy.

And it’s a smart move. The synergy between media and the metaverse is more straightforward than it might first appear. When you think about the metaverse for its ability to immerse individuals and communities in context-rich spaces, it becomes a sought-after environment for communicating information and a playground for media creatives.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that the media is an advertising channel. The opportunity to glean user data in new and layered formats is exciting for future-thinking ad leaders. From Nike to Balenciaga, scores of brands have already invested in metaverse advertising. Media brands are shrewd to the position where their clients are.

Forbes isn’t the only media brand to launch an NFT series. Vogue Singapore, published by global media brand Conde Nast, launched a series of NFTs in September on the Binance NFT marketplace. Vogue Arabia followed shortly after with a Dolce & Gabbana NFT collection, which was available on the luxury exchange, UNXD.

What’s particularly interesting about Forbes’ series is the gamification of the NFT collection which lends to the metaverse ethos and signals an understanding of what NFTs can be in the future and how they can come to life in the context of a digital world.

After all, versions of the metaverse already exist in online games and younger generations are growing up socializing and purchasing in them. Forbes is just scratching the surface of what’s possible. Media brands that want to own younger audiences should be paying attention to how to utilize NFTs to engage audiences, build loyalty, and even establish new revenue streams for themselves and their advertiser clients.

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