Virtual worlds are invading the world of virtual currencies.
Hype over the untapped value of the “metaverse” sent tokens such as Sandbox’s SAND, Decentraland’s MANA and others to all-time highs in November amid surging interest from cryptocurrency traders and Wall Street alike.
The metaverse is a digital world combining elements of augmented and virtual reality, the internet, gaming, art, culture and social networking. Participating in these worlds usually requires a user to use cryptocurrency tokens or purchase objects in the virtual world, which are typically sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Facebook’s announcement spawned interest from corporations, real estate investors, venture capitalists and even nations as they raced to claim their stake in crypto’s hottest new frontier.
The Sandbox, an Ethereum-based virtual gaming platform, saw its SAND token jump from $1.55 to $6.79 in November, an increase of about 350%.
SAND spiked after sportswear retailer Adidas tweeted about building an “adiVerse” in The Sandbox’s virtual world.
adiVerse anyone? 🤔— adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals)
Competing metaverse project Decentraland’s MANA token rose from $2.81 to $4.67 during the month, a gain of 66%, according to data provider Messari.
Decentraland made headlines in November when the nation of Barbados said it was preparing to establish a virtual embassy in Decentraland’s metaverse, bridging the worlds of international diplomacy and digital real estate.
As of Wednesday morning, Decentraland’s MANA and The Sandbox’s SAND tokens ranked as the 40th and 41st largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, respectively, according to data from CoinGecko.
Crypto traders and even Wall Street analysts are speculating on the metaverse’s untapped commercial value, with some industry officials touting its potential to revolutionize both digital and in-person experiences.
Metaverse a $1 trillion opportunity?
The metaverse “can fundamentally change the medium through which we socialize with others, watch music performances, engage with fashion brands, learn and/or speculate on digital assets such as NFTs or in-game skins,” Morgan Stanley wrote in a Nov. 11 report.
Digital-asset manager Grayscale said the metaverse economy could rake in over $1 trillion in annual revenue. (Grayscale is owned by Digital Currency Group, the parent company of CoinDesk.)
Another report by Bank of America quoting Bloomberg Intelligence said the metaverse could be a $800 billion market opportunity by 2024.
Uncertainty over which tokens will eventually win out has some investors hedging their bets by buying a handful of metaverse projects.
Somnium Space, another Ethereum-based virtual reality world, saw its CUBE token rise 66% during the month.
Loopring’s LRC token increased 189% after rumors swirled over a metaverse-related partnership with video game retailer GameStop.
Additionally, role-playing adventure game Illuvium’s ILV token and art-focused virtual reality project Wilder World’s WILD token jumped 84% and 67%, respectively.
“There are several popular metaverses that stand out and Metaverse Group owns NFT-based land parcels in several of them,” Token.com co-founder and CEO Andrew Kiguel told CoinDesk. Metaverse Group, a subsidiary of Tokens.com, is a real estate investment firm that focuses exclusively on metaverse properties and boasts the first-ever metaverse real estate investment trust.
The group paid 618,000 MANA tokens (about $2.4 million) for a plot of land in Decentraland last week, setting the record for the largest ever land acquisition in any metaverse.
The @dcllandbot having fried its circuits, we’re pleased to officially announce the largest metaverse land purchase ever! Congrats to @tokens_com and @Metaverse_Group for securing a 116 parcel estate in the DCL fashion precinct. And if you’re in the fashion industry – get ready! pic.twitter.com/IGyb4nbZQW— Decentraland (@decentraland)
“Our investment returns will be based on the appreciation of the land we hold and also our ability to develop our land and rent it out to interested groups that want to establish a presence in the metaverse,” Kiguel said.
Despite the fragmented metaverse landscape in its nascent stages, investors are betting that more institutional players will follow Adidas and Barbados.
“Investors should not mistake the lack of one cohesive metaverse with the absence of any metaverses,” Morgan Stanley warned.