Decentraland is a 2020-released platform that enables users to take part in various activities in the virtual world. It can be compared to Metaverse, a 2021 product created by Meta. NFTs play a vital role in both game — Decentraland. For instance, most use it for in-game purchases, such as land plot auctions.
It’s currently considered a large failed project, with no more than 3,000 active monthly users on all servers. The project was released during the high point in the popularity of non-fungible tokens and sought to capitalize on the demand. By now, these tokens are a curious concept at best.
Decentraland is a virtual environment, a metaverse (not the Meta game, but an open-world free-roam concept).
Classic metaverses have few restrictions on what people can do, what their avatars can look like, and what environment they can create. VR Chat is an example of a good, classic metaverse — a purely free-for-all environment with complete freedom of expression, set in virtual reality technology.
It could be said that Decentraland was inspired by VR Chat, which came out 3 years before. It’s also an open-world environment with custom servers, custom avatars, and complete freedom for all players. The difference is that it was created from the start as a way to facilitate the circulation of NFTs. The local token, MANA, is used to purchase individual parcels of land to create your own in-game home, among other things.
These pieces of virtual land are represented by NFTs, which can be purchased for MANA. The existence and even the need to buy land are arbitrary. There is no end goal or incentive to ‘build’ your home. It was never a really popular practice for anyone except NFT believers. The main point of interest in metaverse games has always been communication and freedom of expression.
There are two main ways that you can access the game:
- Use the browser version;
- Download the game and boot it from the desktop, which is the optimal method.
It’s available on both Windows and MacOS, and it’s also possible to get it on mobile. They’ve covered all the main markets, and there isn’t any difference where you play it. It’s not particularly demanding. Like Metaverse (the Meta product), you can use it with VR or as is.
To enter the game, you first need to create an avatar. For that, you have to register a Decentraland wallet where you can store your MANA. Alternatively, you can enter as a guest — with reduced functionality and leeway. Most curious features are restricted, and it’s meant mostly as a demo version.
Behind the Scenes
Technically speaking, Decentraland is built upon the Ethereum blockchain. It means that, during its creation, smart contracts were heavily used to build the foundation for this platform. Moreover, most financial and technical operations inside the game are carried out by said smart contracts.
The users don’t have any access to them, however. They don’t have to operate these smart contracts. They are simply exposed to the picture and assets that were built using these contracts. The functionality is still heavily influenced by them, ensuring the speed and security of most technical aspects of the game.
As a result, Decentraland users don’t need any Ether to interact with this platform. Most financial operations within Decentraland are conducted with two types of tokens:
- LAND — a type of NFT used to represent a piece of virtual land. These are the main products sold on this platform. The ownership of this NFT means the ownership of a particular lot, and its details are written inside that token.
- MANA — the Ethereum-based token used to purchase pieces of land and the avatar elements on the Decentraland marketplace. It can’t be mined or received as a reward, but you can purchase it on Binance.
These tokens aren’t integral to the user experience. You don’t have to own them to access most features. The game is technically free to play. However, the fact that so many important elements involve them is quite telling.
The game has been a curious experiment in the past. Even though it was clearly made with the motivation of making money off NFT technology, its implementation was technologically sound and was generally one of the better examples of how NFTs could’ve been used.
Unfortunately, the reputation of this technology soon declined, as more and more NFT projects proved to be scam operations. As such, the popularity of non-fungible tokens fell sharply by 2021. In 2023, only 70 people are active on Decentraland daily, as there aren’t many reasons to visit the platform.
Curiously, it wasn’t during 2021 that Decentraland lost its popularity. It seems that NFT trading wasn’t really the main priority for visitors. It was instead the opportunity to interact with other crypto-minded individuals in a free environment that’s also not demanding hardware-wise.
As such, the platform gained attention in 2021, after Metaverse came into being. In 2022, it entered its peak popularity with 600+ daily users. The number soon deteriorated, and Decentraland is expected to be abandoned in the near future unless NFTs or metaverses enter the spotlight again.
Decentraland wasn’t ever a particularly populated environment. It was relatively well-known and presented a curious technological innovation. It is one of the first metaverses in decentralized space and among the most notable decentralized games. However, it mostly remained a peculiar product that showed what NFTs could be used for.
MANA is still listed on many prime exchanges, including Binance and Coinbase. It can still be used for its main purpose, although it’s really nothing more than a utility token in a peculiar platform. It can’t even be used for governance, and you don’t even need it that badly to be on Decentraland.