Beginner’s Guide to Decentraland (Mana)

Virtual reality gaming has exploded in recent years. But it’s not often that you’ll stand to make money from a game. Or play in a completely decentralized environment on your terms. Blockchain, the tech that’s been touted to have the potential to revolutionize industries, is making this possible. 

Decentraland is a virtual universe in which you can purchase land. And you can do whatever you want with that land just like you would with real land. Whether it’s to sit on it and sell it when it appreciates in value, or build a business and sell services, you can do whatever you desire. And since it’s blockchain-based, once you own land, it’s irrefutably yours. And when you sell land, all the money is yours – no intermediary is taking a cut. Also, there’s no central/regulatory authority dictating how you run things. As Decentraland says in this YouTube video, “your land, your rules.”


What’s Decentraland? 

Decentraland is an Ethereum-based virtual reality platform where people can purchase and own land that they can put into all kinds of uses. It can be described as virtual real estate, that you completely and permanently own once you purchase. Once you own land, you can hold onto it and wait for it to appreciate in value, just like with physical land. You can also build on it, build a business, sell chunks of it – the possibilities are limitless. 

Being blockchain-based, your stake in Decentraland is yours forever. You have total control over it, and no one can take it away from you. As stated in the project’s white paper: “Unlike other virtual worlds and social networks, Decentraland is not controlled by a centralized organization. There is no single agent with the power to modify the rules of the software, contents of land, the economics of the currency, or prevent others from accessing the world.”

Who is Behind Decentraland? 

The Decentraland team comprises project lead Ari Meilich, and Esteban Ordano as the technical lead. Ordano has experience working as a software engineer for BitPay and is the founder of Smart Contract Solutions, Inc. Both also have experience creating Stremium and Bitcore.  

The project’s advisory board includes INBlockchain founder Xiaolai Li, CoinFund founder Jake Brukhman, Aragon project Luis Cuende, and ex-CTO of Ning Diego Duval. 

How Does Decentraland Work? 

Decentraland is a fully immersive VR world. Here, we’ll look at how things work on the platform. 

What is LAND? 

In Decentraland, you can buy and own non-fungible, digital plots of land, stylized as ‘LAND.’ Once you own LAND, there is no limit to what you can do with it. You can create games, go to live concerts, visit underwater resorts, provide gambling services, try your luck at casinos, attend workshops, traverse the land, test drive cars, and pretty much everything you want. Everything happens in a virtual universe with a 360-degree view that immerses you via your web browser or a VR headset. 

The number of LAND is capped (and hence scarce), and each plot of LAND is 33 square feet, although there is no limit to its height. There is a feature called LAND Estates that allows you to more easily manage and develop adjacent pieces of land that you own. To qualify as Estates, the plots must be directly adjacent – with no road, plaza, or plot between them. 

Similar groupings of LAND are known as Districts. Districts are basically community areas that have their own theme. For instance, there may be a district for Vegas-style gambling, another for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and another for video games. Each district is self-governing and has its own rules. Districts are overseen by a district leader(s) whose job is to coordinate their community. 

You can make your voice heard on district issues through the platform’s voting decentralized application (DApp), Agora. The amount of LAND you possess correlates to the weight of your vote. The more LAND you own, the more your vote is worth. Through the DApp, you have more control over what happens in your district, and you can also give feedback about the platform in general. 

What Is MANA?

MANA is the Ethereum-based native token of Decentraland. You can use MANA to buy parcels of LAND as well as to conduct in-world transactions. MANA will gain more usefulness as Decentraland continues to develop.

When you buy LAND, Decentraland burns a portion of the MANA and permanently removes it from circulation. The idea is to reduce the total supply of the token – preventing inflation and increasing demand. In the beginning, a piece of LAND went for 1000 MANA. However, as the market evolves and changes, prices now vary. The highest record for a sold plot was $175, 578 (March 2018). 

Decentraland’s Technology Architecture

The Decentraland protocol features three layers: 

  • Consensus Layer: tracks land ownership and its content through Ethereum-based smart contracts
  • Land content layer: uses a decentralized distribution system to download assets in the virtual world
  • Real-time layer: facilitates peer-to-peer connections and interactions among users

History and Future Plans

Decentraland traces its beginnings to June 2015 – what the team calls “Stone Age.” In this stage, land was represented in simple grades and pixels which were allocated to individuals through a proof-of-work algorithm like that for Bitcoin. Each pixel contained the owner’s information and the pixel’s color. 

In March 2017, the project entered the “Bronze Age.” This time, land was modeled in 3-D, and landowners could associate it with a hash reference using the Bitcoin blockchain. They could also explore Decentraland using a Distributed Hash Table and BitTorrent to download files containing the parcel’s content. 

Next will be the Iron Age, which will allow developers to create applications on the Decentraland and make money off of them. The platform will also employ a peer-to-peer network communication layer that will allow users to voice chat and more. It will also feature a payment system with low fees. 

MANA Statistics

As of June 03, 2020, MANA is trading at $0. 041073, and it ranks at #97 in the crypto market. It has a market capitalization of $56, 260, 673, and a 24-hour volume of $21, 332, 526. The token has a circulating supply of 1, 369, 781, 409, as well as a total supply of 2, 197, 526, 019. It has an all-time high of  $0.288857 (January 09, 2018) as well as an all-time low of $0.007883 (October 13, 2017). 

Where to Buy and Store MANA

You can purchase MANA from any of several popular exchanges such as Binance, OKEx, CoinbasePro, HitBTC, Huobi, and HitBTC. 

As MANA is an ERC-20 token, you can choose from a raft of wallets that support Ethereum. From MyEtherWallet to MetaMask, to Guarda Wallet, to Atomic Wallet, to hardware wallet favorites Ledger and Trezor. 

Final Words

Decentraland takes the concept of virtual gaming and integrates blockchain. This means your interactions in this virtual universe are uncensorable by any entity, and you own and control any proceeds from the game. It also means developers can unleash their creativity and provide greater value to platform users. Decentraland could prove a force to reckon with as it evolves, especially after the Iron Age update that packs new and exciting features. It will be interesting to watch where the project goes from here.


By Edith M.

Edith is an investment writer, trader, and personal finance coach specializing in investments advice around the fintech niche. Her fields of expertise include stocks, commodities, forex, indices, bonds, and cryptocurrency investments.

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