Last updated: Aug 16, 2023
Decentraland is a growing metaverse and a user-owned virtual reality 3D platform, built on Ethereum. Many popular blockchain projects and real-world companies like Sotheby's, Rarible, or MakerDAO now have their virtual headquarters on Decentraland.
Decentraland has existed since 2015 when it was created by two Argentinian developers Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano. The project’s beta version launched in 2017, and in 2020 Decentraland opened its grounds to all visitors. It all started as a plain grid where pixelated plots of digital land were on sale and in years evolved to a thriving metaverse we see now.
Visitors can explore the metaverse of Decentraland in a form of digital avatars. The territory is divided into themed districts, like Crypto Valley Art Gallery where anyone can view or buy digital art, Decentraland University with different classes and educational activities, or Bartertown where users can trade with each other. Locations on Decentraland also serve as venues for various events - art exhibitions, online sales, movie shows, concerts, or parties.
Decentraland operates by selling plots of digital land to users where they can build and run various projects, such as gaming applications, digital marketplaces, and monetize it among users. Each parcel of Decentraland accounts for in-game real estate that can be sold or built upon and used to attract other users. For now, games prevail in mostly entertaining content of Decentraland. Users also can buy outfits and accessories for their avatars in a marketplace.
This virtual reality is powered by the MANA token which is used to acquire digital properties or in-game merchandise as well as may serve as payment for various activities. While MANA is used as money on Decentraland, another token, LAND, is an analog to ownership rights on the platform. Basically, any holder of the LAND token can create digital environments and applications on a plot of virtual land secured by their assets. Acquired parcels can be united by merging LAND tokens with each other creating Estate tokens in return.
Decentraland is governed by its users through DAO which is built on Aragon technology.
To use the Decentraland app users need to have a digital wallet where all digital assets such as account names, collectibles, LANDs, and the in-world progress safe are kept. However, users can also experience the platform without a wallet but they won’t be able to receive daily rewards and participate in events. Since in that case data is stored locally, if no wallet is connected, users won’t be able to log in with different devices using the same ID and avatar. Currently, Decentraland wallet support includes any Ethereum crypto wallet supporting NFT functionalities.
Users can create 3D content for Decentraland, by using a builder tool – a drag and drop visual tool, which provides access to a library of pre-made items, as well as supports users-imported custom 3D models. There is also an SDK available to users willing to take it a step further and create scenes writing code. Both tools can also be combined.
Users can charge visitors on their virtual land however they choose, with Decentraland not being involved in any way with the monetization of the content. In such cases, Decentraland fees are not applicable.
There are three types of tokens native to the Decentraland platform: MANA, LAND, and Estate.
MANA is an ERC-20 token and can be bought outside the platform on a number of exchanges as well as traded freely. MANA tokens are burned in order to purchase LAND.
LAND is a non-fungible token that reflects the user’s ownership over a certain parcel of Decentraland, whereas Estate is also an NFT created by merging two or more LAND tokens. Both Land and Estate are issued under ERC-721 standard and for now, are only accessible on Decentraland’s built-in marketplace. Different types of Ethereum smart contracts are used to manage MANA, LAND, and Estate.
In order to take part in the governance system on Decentraland users need to wrap their MANA into wMANA tokens to acquire the voting power. If a user owns any LAND or Estate no wrapping is needed, each LAND provides 2000 voting power to its owner.
Decentraland was initially created by two Argentinian developers, Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano. After the launch of the Decentraland DAO, the founders are no longer in charge of the Decentraland team but are involved with the platform as members of the Security Advisory Board (SAB).
SAB onboards five members each of whom is approved by the Decentraland community. Their job is to provide security for smart contracts, review government proposals and decide whether to delay or reject them. SAB also responds to bug reports.
Decentraland users need to have a cryptocurrency wallet in order to interact with the platform in a meaningful way. As an Ethereum-based project, Decentraland can be accessed through any type of wallet with the support of ERC-20 or ERC-721 tokens.
Decentraland NFTs are also present on the OpenSea marketplace.
According to the most recent Decentraland roadmap, the team is working on developing a new client for Windows, Linux, and Mac. It will include an auto-updateable launcher to enhance performance and will allow a wider range of devices to interact with the Decentraland app. There is on-going research on an experimental VR Client, whose beta is expected to be released in the second half of 2022. A mobile app is in its prototype stage.
The company is also working on improving the voice chat system, researching how to further decentralize and scale the private chat system and also looking for a way to improve the moderation system.
There is work being done to allow users to showcase their NFTs as wearables inside the Decentraland metaverse. NFT emotes are also expected to be brought to the platform to enhance the customizability of users’ avatars. As tested in late December smart wearables enable the possibility of adding gameplay such as jetpacks, sword fights, laser tags, and others. These will be accepted on the DAO Wearables Approval flow soon.
Since the company claims the protocol has been greatly optimized and enhanced in the past months, the new main focus will be the platform’s SDK. The new version will include “out of the box network synchronization of entities” and better network performance and capabilities. The SDK will be backwards-compatible.
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