Just recently, Yuga Labs, the team behind the world-famous bored nonfungible token (NFT) primates, nabbed some $300 million with its sale of Otherdeed NFTs, a collection of land plots in a soon-to-be metaverse. Indeed, NFTs, the blockchain industry’s primary method of creating digital asset scarcity, have emerged as the preferred way to handle virtual land ownership for most metaverse projects, including Decentraland and The Sandbox. All of this has prompted an interesting question in the community: In the metaverse, a vast, near-endless digital space, how can digital land ever be scarce? Well, let’s dig in.
First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: The metaverse isn’t real. I mean, the Ready Player One-style metaverse, a seamless virtual reality-based rendition of the internet as we know it. So, while you may don your VR helmet for a rave in Decentraland, the device will hardly stay on for your daily dose of Instagram or a news feed surf.
In other words, what we have right now is a growing number of relatively siloed metaverse projects, which offer users an array of project-specific experiences and functions as opposed to the browse-whatever of the larger web. This in itself hints that scarcity is a valid concept to consider in as much as their lands go, even if we consider their value through the same prism as real-world land.
One day, we may indeed end up with a single coherent metaverse, but even there, the rules binding it will likely work as a natural — or artificial — foundation for conceptualizing value, which will likely factor in scarcity in some form. Now, in a world of scattered metaverses that users cannot seamlessly bounce between, competition and, by extension, scarcity are very much part of the equation.
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Adrian Krion is the founder of the Berlin-based blockchain gaming startup Spielworks and has a background in computer science and mathematics. Having started programming at age seven, he has been successfully bridging businesses and tech for more than 15 years, currently working on projects that connect the emerging DeFi ecosystem to the gaming world.