Decentraland has gone live on the Ethereum, opening its blockchain-based virtual world to the public for the first time after raising $24 million in its 2017 ICO.
Users can now visit the blockchain-based virtual world or “metaverse,” reminiscent of online virtual world Second Life launched in 2003. It costs cryptocurrency to own land or claim an avatar name, but guests can explore the world free of charge.
In order to promote the launch, Decentraland is running a four-day-long treasure hunt. Visitors can search for special tokens and crypto-collectibles provided by projects such as Matic, CryptoKitties, Aragon, Gods Unchained, and Chainbreakers. The total prize pool is worth over $100,000.
The project’s launch also marks the beginning of the Decentraland DAO, which will reduce central control over the project. This means that no single authority will be able to change Decentraland’s rules, curate its LAND content, or limit public access. Instead, the community will make decisions collectively.
NFTs Are Essential
Decentraland is one of the most anticipated applications of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to date.
Each of Decentraland’s LAND tokens represents a parcel of virtual land, which users can trade freely on Decentraland’s marketplace. These tokens have been in general circulation since Decentraland began to sell LAND to the public during its second auction, which took place in December 2018.
Since then, LAND tokens have become the most-traded Ethereum NFT in existence. Users are currently trading about 2000 ETH ($550,000) of LAND tokens per week, according to OpenSea rankings.
Decentraland has also expanded the role that NFTs play on its platform. Users can now trade wearable items and avatar names—not just parcels of land, as in previous versions of the marketplace.
Decentraland’s Long History
Decentraland is a project years in the making. It was first conceived in 2016, and early prototypes of the virtual world looked very different from today’s polished product.
The earliest efforts from the team nevertheless generated plenty of hype, and the project went on to raise $24 million in a 2017 ICO that sold out in just seconds.
However, Decentraland had no public product until today, and many competitors have emerged in the meantime. CryptoVoxels, a stripped-down Minecraft-like world, seems to have most benefited from the hype around Decentraland. It is currently the third largest Ethereum NFT by trading volume.
It remains to be seen if Decentraland NFTs will stay in high demand after today’s launch. Some critics have called the market a bubble, and the faded glory of Second Life might serve as a cautionary tale.
Still, today’s launch should give some indication of whether there is lasting demand for the project.