A tweet got me interested in land whales in the metaverse, and therefore I decided to do some data research. Play to Earn dove into wallet data from The Sandbox, Somnium Space, Decentraland and Cryptovoxels. Did you know that the average landowner in The Sandbox has 0.02 percent of the current total supply? However, the biggest whale in that world owns 7 percent!
The other day a tweet from Sebastien Borget, the chief of The Sandbox universe, caught my eye. He highlighted the number of landowners per virtual world, and The Sandbox came out on top. However, his virtual world will have 166.464 land parcels in total and so far only 40 percent has been sold. That’s why I taught it would be interesting to look at the presence of Land Whales.
All the data I’ve gathered comes straight from Etherscan. When looking at Decentraland, I mainly looked at the LAND plots and not at the estates. Obviously I did that to keep things easy. However, 72 percent of all LAND is locked into the Estate contract. This made calculating rather difficult, but let’s not make this too scientific.
It’s also important to note that the world of Decentraland is set in stone, there won’t be any more land sales. Cryptovoxels and The Sandbox are still expanding their supply. The Sandbox is working towards 166 thousand parcels, while Cryptovoxels keeps expanding as long as Ben Nolan’s computer keeps working.
Somnium Space is a bit of an odd duck. They have already minted all their lands, but hold 3.083 parcels in their own wallet. So we will need to extract that from the general data we find on Etherscan. Now let’s dive into the numbers, and keep in mind that this is NOT meant as scientific research:
The Sandbox most decentralized
|Virtual world||Wallets||Current supply||Avg / wallet||Percentage|
On average a landowner in The Sandbox has 0.02% of the current supply. This suggests that there’s a great amount of spread between the landowners. In Somnium Space the average wallet has 0.22 percent of the supply, suggesting more lands are centralized or owned by whales.
Out of these four Decentraland is actually the one that’s most interesting. They’ve already sold all their land, and the community relies completely on peer-to-peer trading on the secondary market. Yet, the percentage of land in the average wallet is one of the lowest on the list (0.05%). Which I would reckon is healthy for the community as a whole.
Power of Land Whales
Now that we’ve taken a look at the average land per wallet, it would make sense to also dive into the power of the land whales in the metaverse. How strong is the concentration of whales within these metaverses, and can we explain this centralization of land ownership?
In The Sandbox one company – Binance – holds 7 percent of the total supply. That makes up for a big chunk of the centralization there. In Decentraland the biggest wallet is the one for the Estate smart contract. So there’s quite a lot of people owning multiple adjacent land parcels that form an estate. One person, CashChris, actually owns 297 estates. That’s by far the biggest whale in DCL.
Cryptovoxels seems to have the least whale dominance. The Top 3 owns 10 percent of the land. In Somnium Space, which has the least amount of land parcels on the market, there seems to be quite some whale activity, as 32 percent of the land is owned by the top 10 accounts.
|Virtual world||Top 100 |
|▶ Estates (72.76%, 1227 wallets)||49.75%||37.69%||18.02%||10.84%|
In essence whale activity isn’t a good thing for virtual worlds, as we don’t only want a decentralized financial system but also a more equal split in ownership. Obviously land whales and high land prices make it difficult for some users to become part of the metaverse. But in the end, whale activity means there’s demand. Someone who’s a whale in a certain virtual world, will need to setup business opportunities to create value for their land. These aren’t cryptocurrencies that increase or decrease in value, but these are land parcels that only increase in value when the landowner creates a demand or use case. An audience is needed. So there is an argument to be made that whale activity is a good thing. Perhaps that’s why Binance will make their land acquisition within The Sandbox part of a larger community effort.
It’s difficult to really draw a conclusion, because the market is changing all the time. At the moment Somnium Space and Decentraland seems to rely the most on whales and their activity, while The Sandbox and especially Cryptovoxels have distributed their land parcels to a relative wider audience. But the metaverse is still developing, and its true potential – which includes interoperability between these worlds – still needs to be unlocked.
Every land sale for The Sandbox new people will discover this virtual world. Every update for Cryptovoxels makes it more appealing for people to setup their business Origin City or the surrounding islands. Decentraland keeps developing features, making their world more attractive every month. At the same Somnium Space is becoming more accessible through mobile devices and web links, creating more accessibility. No doubt that virtual worlds are blossoming, and I’m excited to see where this is going.
Buying land in the metaverse
Let’s say you want to give this a go. Let’s take a quick look at the cheapest available lands in each of these virtual worlds. Maybe you want to become one of the land whales in the metaverse?
|Virtual world||Minimum price|
|Cryptovoxels||0.88 ETH ($1591)|
|Decentraland||9.999 MANA ($2525)|
|The Sandbox||0.179 ETH ($324)|
|Somnium Space||0.77 ETH ($1395)|
The Sandbox is doing another land sale later this week, in case you’re interested. Play to Earn is organizing the Play to Earn Game Festival: 2nd Edition in March, which will take place in Cryptovoxels.
Robert Hoogendoorn is a gamer and blockchain enthusiast. He got in touch with crypto in 2014, but the fire really lit in 2017. Professionally he’s a content optimization expert and worked for press agencies and video production companies, always with a focus on the video games & tech industry. He’s a content manager and creator at heart, working on Play to Earn. He’s also Head of Content for DappRadar.