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Blockchain-based virtual reality universe "Decentraland" shows the potential of blockchain and VR combined

By Manmeet
Published 11 months ago

Decentraland, a virtual reality platform powered by Ethereum blockchain held its first property auction which is being termed as the largest virtual land auction in the history. This virtual universe is a social space connected to transactions based on crypto-coins. You can even buy a piece of virtual land for yourself and construct something on it, either for gaining experience to be shared with friends or for nurturing a gainful business from the same.

The world of virtual reality is growing at a fast pace and this initiative taken by Decentraland is a kind of symbolic of this fast-paced progression made by the VR universe. There already exists centralized VR platforms like Facebook Spaces and Microsoft’s AltspaceVR however according to the advocates for decentralization the users of such VR Platforms have limited control over their holdings. 

But this is not the case with Decentraland as it employs Blockchains and smart contracts to make sure that the users enjoy exclusive control over their virtual lands. Owners of such virtual lands can construct their own virtual towns and cities, populate them with unique virtual objects and use the same to stay connected with their online assemblage for various social gatherings.  

As said by Ariel Meilich, Project Lead at Decentraland, “The ownership of items is cryptographically established on a smart contract, which prevents anyone from stealing or altering user’s property.” 

Early 2017, Decentraland raised a total of $25 million from about 4,000 investors for its MANA tokens, in its first Initial Coin Offering (ICO). As of now, the number of token holders has doubled which clearly projects the huge number of people who are showing their interest to buy virtual land for themselves.

Decentraland will release the web client for these virtual land holdings by early 2018. Landowners are required to use the same for publishing content on their virtual space. These land parcels to be given by Decentraland are restricted to a limited number; hence, their value will definitely increase if this unique platform gains enough popularity. The virtual landowners can make a good amount of financial gains by renting out their spaces or providing access to advertisers to post their ads. Since all transactions and deals will be made in crypto-currency there is absolutely no need for a central authority or a broker to control the same. Hence users will be rewarded in full for the gains that their virtual word makes.

With all the above merits there are few limitations too. The blockchain is currently facing a scaling problem in storing large volumes of transactions. High traffic may result in clogging of the blockchain. It is because of this only Decentraland is using Ethereum blockchain for the purpose of storing only the ownership and exchange of the virtual land plus the content. However, the real content uses InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) which is a decentralized option to cloud storage. 

Also, we are aware of the fact that companies like Facebook and Google which have centralized ownership are going through difficult times recognizing and deleting abusive content. But since Decentraland is giving the ownership rights exclusive to its users; they cannot remove any of the abusive content. 

So time will only tell the status of this decentralized community model. Since the economy of these decentralized virtual land holdings will be shared, everyone under the network will be mutually responsible for the costs, welfare, esteem, and honour of the system, there is a hope that all users will struggle for the overall well being of this virtual stage, keeping it in good shape and health.