The digital property market in the metaverse is booming, say Siddharth Venkataramakrishnan and George Steer in the Financial Times. In The Sandbox, one online world, you can snap up a private island with a villa for $104,000, then host the digital avatars of your friends there. Sandbox property owners include Adidas and the rapper Snoop Dogg; one company, Republic Realm, has spent $4.3m on the digital equivalent of three square miles.
All in all, $500m of metaverse property was sold last year. Firms are excitedly imagining a “bright future” in digital mortgages and rental markets. But there are snags. Land close to the “public plazas” in Decentraland, another online world, is pricier than more out-of-the-way plots – but unlike in the real world, in Decentraland you can teleport anywhere “at the click of a button”. There are also doubts about “the long-term future of metaverse purchases”. Online games are sometimes shut down once companies deem the cost of running them too high. Though you might own a sumptuous digital mansion, media professor Edward Castronova says, the company running the world has no legal obligation “to continue to provide electricity to servers so you can access it”.