Have you ever been so attached to a place that you wished you could own it? Maybe leave something behind so that people who came to visit later could see what it meant to you? Or maybe you’re less sentimental and want to make money off of the idea of a place. Whichever of these describes you, SuperWorld can help.
SuperWorld has divided the globe into billions of plots of land and is selling the “virtual real estate” associated with those physical locations. To understand more, ARPost talked with CEO and Co-Founder Hrish Lotlikar.
The SuperWorld Metaverse
Usually, when we say “virtual real estate” at ARPost, we’re talking about entirely virtual spaces. That’s not exactly what SuperWorld has in mind. Another term that you might need to relearn is “metaverse.” There are different ideas about what a metaverse might look like, and different people use different words.
When some people talk about the metaverse, they’re talking about a single virtual world in which we live and move and have our being. At this year’s VR/AR Association Global Summit MetaVRse Co-Founder Alan Smithson went so far as to say that the internet is the metaverse and XR is just introducing a more immersive way of interacting with it.
Another running theory is that there will never be a single metaverse but instead, a series of siloed “metaverses” or a “multiverse”, dominated by powerful tech companies, will arise. This “walled garden” theory of the metaverse has been presented by Matt Miesnieks of 6D.ai, which was purchased by Niantic.
Miesnieks uses the term “mirror world” instead of “metaverse” with the mirror world being essentially for ARn what the metaverse is for VR – the physical world, made virtual. This stance is increasingly being adopted, having been perhaps most recently used by Varjo in their Reality Cloud announcement.
The metaverse of SuperWorld is of this type. It is an augmented version of the physical world, overlaid on the physical world. The “virtual real estate” being sold is that area of the platform’s own metaverse, mirror world, or whatever you call it.
How is it sold? As an NFT of course.
NFTs and Virtual Real Estate Tokens
When you buy virtual real estate you buy a “SuperWorld Virtual Real Estate Token” – a non-fungible token minted on the Ethereum blockchain. NFTs allow individuals to prove ownership – and transfer ownership – of digital assets. In this case, a 100 square-meter piece of metaverse.
Once users have purchased their virtual real estate, they can populate it with their own persistent AR assets and experiences for other users to find. They can also sell their virtual property to other users.
Being on the Ethereum blockchain also allows for the NFTs to be involved in smart contracts which, among other tricks, can allow the holders of Super World Real Estate Tokens to make a share of revenue generated in that virtual property. This potentially includes revenue from ads and e-commerce, and even gaming and transactions.
Most of the world is still up for grabs. You can visit the SuperWorld map to see the breakdown. Those areas that look like a regular map are unclaimed and typically start at 0.1 ETH. Those areas with a border around them are already owned, but you can still make an offer. Those areas shaded in green are currently for sale by the current owners.
Right now, SuperWorld only takes Ether, but the plan is to expand to accept other cryptocurrencies and potentially launch a platform-specific token. While it would be swell for the platform to allow more payment methods, keep in mind that this is an inherently international application and “nation-agnostic” currencies help to keep costs low and negotiations easy.
Investing With and In SuperWorld
In the physical world, property speculation is about investing in the future of that property, and investment involves risk. This is also true for buying digital property in SuperWorld.
Think about it this way: you’re not just investing in the property, you’re also investing in Ether. If the value of the virtual property goes up and the value of Ether goes down, you might not get the returns that you might have been able to expect otherwise.
Further, in a very real sense, you’re investing in the platform itself. A lot of the value of SuperWorld comes from people using it and right now it’s still early. Lotlikar has faith in his long game.
“We thought to ourselves, if we can’t build the next Pokemon Go, what if we could build the platform that the next thousand Pokemon Gos are built on,” explained Lotlikar.
That’s an astronomical value proposition, but it also won’t happen overnight. And it isn’t supposed to because the necessary consumer hardware is still on the horizon.
Playing the Long Game on Hardware and Society
“AR glasses are coming, and we’re very excited about them,” said Lotlikar. “Facebook, Apple, Google, a number of players in Asia – they’re going to come out in the next couple of years.”
There’s also a huge question mark on whether we’ll eventually see regulation that would tie ownership of virtual property to ownership of physical property – an idea that some organizations are promoting but SuperWorld is actively betting against.
Further, a lot of the affordances that promise to make SuperWorld digital real estate valuable aren’t yet available. However, the mobile app, currently in beta, is expected to launch in the next few months.
Investing and Attractions
The mobile app isn’t the only impending attraction either, as the platform plans on launching an NFT marketplace, which is also currently in beta.
A lot of people think that NFTs are dead because interest (and prices) have dropped off considerably in the last few months. However, many tech experts believe that this is a “correction” as the mania goes away leaving promising use cases bolstered by increased public awareness. Keep in mind here, that SuperWorld is not a new company and it isn’t new to NFTs.
Further, it’s easy to get lost in the details of NFTs and digital ownership because a lot of these things are still taking shape. That doesn’t mean that SuperWorld is some fly-by-night operation. The company has some major investors including Outlier Ventures and Altered Ventures.
Outlier has a portfolio full of big blockchain names and Altered Ventures, in addition to its gaming portfolio, launched its own NFT marketplace during the VR/AR Association Global Summit in June.
To put it another way, we don’t know what the virtual landscape will look like when the dust settles. But, the question isn’t whether SuperWorld will play a role, the question is what role it will be.
The SuperWorld Gateway
“What is the interaction between virtuality and physicality?” asked Lotlikar. “Really, for us, the linkage between physical and virtual is what makes SuperWorld different. We want to be the gateway.”
It’s a complex notion and there are a lot of unanswered questions, but Lotlikar and SuperWorld are forging ahead and offering to take the rest of us along.