Technology May 2022

The Metaverse Is the Next Big Thing

What is it and should you be investing in it?

Written by Peggy Keene

The metaverse and investing in virtual land Over 10 years ago I wrote a law review article about virtual property and its valuation. It focused mainly on video game property, ownership questions associated with it, and in some cases, criminal acts that resulted from disputes over it. I remember everyone who read it was surprised and couldn’t understand why people would pay exorbitant amounts of money, or in some cases, kill for it.

And now in 2022, I find myself writing about it again. Except this time, it’s not such a foreign topic to everyone. Ever since Facebook announced its pivot to virtual reality, plots in the metaverse have grown by as much as 500% in just the past few months. And it’s not just technology buffs or industry insiders that are finding their way into the metaverse. It’s also celebrities, giant retailers like Walmart, and tech icons like Microsoft too. And for those who haven’t heard about it yet? What is it?

What exactly is the metaverse?
Vaguely, the metaverse is considered to be the “next big thing.” If you don’t remember, the last “big thing” was the “internet of things,” which boasted and touted the interconnectivity of all things. In 2022, it’s the metaverse, which also promotes interconnectivity but in a whole different realm.

And while all we’ve heard about since late 2021 and early 2022 is talk about digital assets like nonfungible tokens and property in the metaverse, the actual work on the metaverse has been hush-hush. And by this point, you might be wondering what exactly is the metaverse then? Well, here’s the kicker. Nobody really knows (besides Mark Zuckerberg, maybe). This hasn’t stopped people from speculating, however. Some experts say it’s a collection of virtual worlds. Others claim it’s the next iteration of social media, while some critics say that it isn’t anything, and that frankly, it will never come to fruition.

Gambling on the metaverse with plots of virtual land
In the end however, the unknown hasn’t stopped people and companies from paying exorbitant amounts of money for virtual plots of land, often upwards of millions of dollars. But how do we know which plots are worth it? Well, just like the real world, experts say the valuation of such virtual land depends on “location, location, location!” From what neighborhood you’re in to who your neighbor is—it’s all about location! But note that these same experts also warn that no one can really guarantee which virtual worlds will prosper and which will fail. Further, no one knows what laws will run the metaverse. So far, it’s the Wild West, and many women have already reported being sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted in virtual reality.

Consequently the best advice I can give you is that, as it stands, buying virtual real estate at this point is a lot like gambling. Don’t bet money on it if you can’t afford to lose.

Key takeaways about investing in the metaverse
Here’s what you need to know about the next big thing, the “metaverse:”

  • Digital land in virtual worlds is going for anywhere from thousands of dollars to millions;

  • Celebrities and famous companies have been rapidly buying up extravagant tracts of land in such virtual spaces; and

  • No one actually knows for sure what the metaverse is or will become. TBJ

This article, which was originally published on the Klemchuk Ideate Blog, has been edited and reprinted with permission.

Headshot of Peggy KeenePEGGY KEENE is of counsel to Klemchuk. Her practice focuses on intellectual property and internet law, e-commerce, and data privacy. Keene has also served as in-house counsel in the telecommunications industry.

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