What Is Decentraland (MANA)?
Decentraland (MANA) defines itself as a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain that allows users to create, experience, and monetize content and applications.
In this virtual world, users purchase plots of land that they can later navigate, build upon and monetize.
Decentraland was launched following a $24 million initial coin offering (ICO) that was conducted in 2017. The virtual world launched its closed beta in 2019 and opened to the public in February 2020. Since then, users have created a wide range of experiences on their parcels of LAND, including interactive games, sprawling 3D scenes and a variety of other interactive experiences.
Decentraland uses two tokens: MANA and LAND. MANA is an ERC-20 token that must be burned to acquire non-fungible ERC-721 LAND tokens. MANA tokens can also be used to pay for a range of avatars, wearables, names, and more on the Decentraland marketplace.
Decentraland (MANA) is a decentralized virtual world platform with software based on the Ethereum blockchain, where users create, test and monetize content. In short: users buy virtual plots of land as NFTs with MANA tokens on the Decentraland platform. Progress in the game depends only on players themselves, their efforts and their imagination.
The digital platform is completely owned by its users. Within the Decentraland metaverse, participants can explore the virtual world, purchase plots of land that can be monetized, create works of art, own non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and take part in a decentralized autonomous organization of the platform Decentraland DAO. Due to the DAO, the community influences the development vector of the project.
In addition, users have access to interactive applications, in-world payments and peer-to-peer communication. The 3D world resonates with many participants as Decentraland has many applications, both entertainment for gamers and business for investors.
Two types of tokens called MANA and LAND govern operations in Decentraland. They also allow users to interact with the platform.
MANA is the official currency of Decentraland. It’s an ERC-20 standard token that powers the Decentraland platform. With MANA, users can purchase plots of LAND, as well as pay for in-game items and services.
MANA gives its holders the right to vote in Decentraland DAO. MANA can be purchased on a cryptocurrency exchange or by selling collectibles on Decentraland Marketplace. The owner of tokens converts them to wrapped MANA, or wMANA, and then commits them to the DAO. One wMANA equals one vote. MANA can be exchanged for fiat currency and other digital assets.
As for LAND, it’s a non-fungible token (NFT) based on Ethereum (ETH). It is used to track ownership of land parcels aka digital real estate. Like MANA, LAND is part of the protocol and confers voting rights, but LAND does not need to be fixed in the DAO. One LAND is equal to two thousand votes.
Players choose what to do with their land. Owners store tokens in crypto wallets and buy necessities with MANA tokens on the Decentraland Marketplace. Moreover, on the marketplace, participants can manage or exchange LAND tokens (priced in MANA). Holders use the marketplace to transact or transfer in-game items. All transactions are conducted, regulated and registered via the Ethereum blockchain.
Decentraland combines an online gaming space and blockchain technology. All control over the rules is given to the players, and token holders vote on in-game and organizational policies. The original goal was to form a decentralized virtual reality, but in practice, Decentraland has turned into a massive NFT market.
A special role in Decentraland is assigned to NFTs, such as collectibles, virtual equipment and real estate (LAND). However, for new players who want to join the universe and seize NFTs, the entry barrier will be high.
The Decentraland protocol is built on three levels using Ethereum smart contracts. On the consensus layer, the ownership of LAND is tracked and managed. The land content layer displays the content of the Decentraland virtual world. Finally, on the real-time layer, participants interact with each other.
The platform was co-founded by two blockchain experts, Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano, in 2015. Officially it was launched a year later and became available only in February 2020, gradually turning from a 2D experiment into a full-fledged 3D world.
To sum up, Decentraland is a decentralized game and a 3D virtual reality platform where players own lands and create limitlessly. Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) software is at the core, and governance is in the hands of the community. Through the native token MANA, players participate in any proposals for managing and improving the ecosystem, the auction system, and the in-game policy.
Who Are the Founders of Decentraland?
Decentraland was co-founded by Ariel Meilich and Esteban Ordano — both of whom have stepped down from major positions at the project, but still work alongside Decentraland as advisors.
Ariel Meilich previously held the role of project lead at Decentraland between 2017 and 2020, and is a serial entrepreneur that has founded several other startups, including an online translation agency and a CRM platform. He also worked as an analyst at Charles River Ventures, a prominent Silicon Valley venture fund.
On the other hand, Esteban Ordano is Decentraland’s former tech lead and has a long and varied history in the cryptocurrency space working as a software engineer at BitPay, Inc., an advisor to Matic Network and briefly operated his own smart contract development firm known as Smart Contract Solutions.
Esteban is also credited with co-founding Zeppelin Solutions, an established blockchain technology infrastructure company.
Although Ariel and Estaban are no longer leading the project, the development of Decentraland is still ongoing, with efforts being directed by the recently established Decentraland Foundation.
What Makes Decentraland Unique?
Decentraland is built for content creators, businesses and individuals that are looking for a new artistic medium, business opportunity, or source of entertainment.
In total, the Decentraland gameworld — termed the “Metaverse” — is divided into 90,601 individual parcels of LAND, each of which is represented by an ERC-721 non-fungible token. Each LAND is exactly 16m x 16m (256 square meters) and can be found at a particular coordinate in the Metaverse.
Though LAND holders are free to develop their plot into whatever they choose, much of the Metaverse is broadly divided into several districts, each of which has a different size and theme. These districts were generated through individual crowdsales for MANA tokens, and parcels of LAND in these districts cannot be traded.
As of January 2021, the cyberpunk-themed Aetheria is the largest district — comprising a total of 8,008 LAND.
Decentraland is also one of the growing number of projects to use a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) structure for governance decisions. As a result, MANA token holders are in control of how the Decentraland world behaves, by proposing and voting on policy updates, the specifics of upcoming LAND auctions and the types of content that are allowed with the Metaverse.
Besides being a creative outlet, many Decentraland users currently monetize their LAND through leasing, advertising and paid experiences. Likewise, other users generate an income by creating and selling items on the Decentraland marketplace for MANA tokens.