Op-Ed: Virtual Real Estate – Capitalize Fiction, Adult Minecraft, More Hype or Maybe Something Way Better?

“Everydays” – a unique virtual work by American artist Beeple – sold for $69.3 million at auction – © AFP

The metaverse capitalizes very well, thanks for asking. Virtual real estate is worth very big, very real money. People are investing physical millions for what are actually fictional properties. The virtual real estate market now acts much like the real estate market, and skeptics are getting richer from the criticism.

Virtual real estate is anything but new. It started years ago in Second Life, grabbed attention for a few minutes, and disappeared in a lack of additional information. The criticisms and the problems were the same back then. (So ​​similar, in fact, that they could have been cut and pasted for virtual real estate.)

This time, however, the hype is backed by blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFT artwork, and lots of very real money. The new virtual world brings with it status. There is a question of style to be addressed. There are also real investors.

All of the truly “social” media are getting involved. Electronic sports, entertainment, etc. naturally fit into the metaverse. It’s more than Web 3. It’s a real shift of assets into something very different. Be skeptical, but don’t ignore it, because it will come looking for you.

The psychology of virtual real estate

It is not at all surprising that generations brought up entirely on visual media are drawn to a purely visual product. This mindset is about as “inevitably normal” as you can get without becoming a lifestyle ad yourself.

The credibility of virtual real estate is also supported by many new technologies. Virtual reality is still in its prenatal phase, but much improved. 3D is pretty visual too, with the added physical grunt of plenty of power running through it. You get “presence” whether you like it or not.

There is another big selling point: reality. Why would not you want a safe and stress-free place? This is what these virtual worlds offer. A place where you don’t have to be beaten minute by minute by the physical world and its problems? It’s not “escape”. It’s common sense.

What’s wrong with that?

The price, mainly. You can talk about “democratizing” ownership all you want. Money and democracy have never had much in common. You could very easily argue that money prevents democracy. The real world didn’t suddenly become kind, caring, and obliging. He covers his costs and, of course, earns money for himself. Many skeptics, myself included, are not so much concerned with the mindset as the obvious opportunities to lose money and get badly ripped off.

Foreseeable disadvantages of virtual property

These things can lose money in any basic market scenario. You could be buying a lousy property quality in technical terms.


  • You can buy something that you can’t build a top quality house on because the software can’t handle it or for some other reason. There is NO report on this, but it’s entirely possible as the usual generational software issues and ugly upgrade management scenarios come into play.
  • Platforms, schemes. Bugs happen, and if you have a few million bugs getting bugged, you won’t like it. Neither will your buyers. Minor bugs can become major bugs. Any type of software can break down.
  • When this market starts acting like a real market, losses are inevitable. This is a real estate market, after all.
  • At a certain price, anyone can get by. Imagine taking out a loan to buy visual property at a premium price.
  • You can overinvest. A virtual portfolio could be just as tricky as a real estate portfolio, with ease.
  • The data load will be (and is) huge. Regardless of your size, your systems can fail. It could get unpleasant. Backups and redundancies aren’t necessarily cheap either, and actual runtime is an obvious issue.
  • Platform security is not (and cannot be) a given. No platform will assume unlimited liability. Your high status NFT could be vandalized, stolen, etc. You may need to insure your virtual property.

A future with many possible benefits

Grim so far, right? To be strictly fair about this despite my many current doubts, things could credibly improve in the metaverse as well.

Current strengths can be strengthened:

A portable world isn’t such a bad idea by any logical standards.

You have a viable and realistic place for yourself.

Virtual properties offer lots of choices for the aesthetics and inclusions you want in your world,

You can control your interactions with the outside, including people.

People have always wanted safe private spaces. This could be the deciding factor for entering the Metaverse. You don’t have the far too many problems of living in a cluttered, toxic, and dangerous physical world.

You can have much more control over everything, even on existential levels. You can “push” your virtual world away and keep it to yourself by simply hitting an “exclude” feature that closes everything else to keep things private and secure. (I’ll spare you the “arbitrary spaces” part, but that’s like set theory – You don’t have be part of any other set. You can be your own set.)

Autonomous operating systems could also eliminate dependence on external needs.

It’s only a matter of time before tactile and sensory realities get involved. You should be able to fly an airplane, scuba dive, explore the universe, etc. within the reach of current, let alone future, technology.

It’s also entirely possible that many sci-fi ideas will become viable. Why bother dying, when your digital self can just settle into your favorite virtual environment?

Virtual existence can be virtualized to the point of no longer depending on physical systems. After all, you are just mixing electrons, in the physical and virtual worlds.

There is nothing slightly unusual about any of this. There is nothing irreversible in that, even in theory. The laws of physics don’t care either. You basically live in a set of equations anyway. (Well, if you insist on being electromagnetic, kind of retrospective, you…)

Yes, you might even ponder the possibility of life in other metaverses. So bizzare.

Virtual property is the extremely predictable, behaviorally natural application of an in many respects unevolved future reality. Beware. Learn the environment. Don’t trust anything until you have reason to trust it. It should be good.

About Leah Albert

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