Clifford Chance: The metaverse: When is real estate no longer real?

Clifford Chance: The metaverse: When is real estate no longer real? 2

Approximately US$2 billion worth of ‘land’ has changed hands so far this year without a single human ever setting foot on it and with the knowledge that no human ever will. These sales were of virtual plots of land in the metaverse.

For all the hype, it is often difficult to navigate the conceptual and legal challenges that may arise when investing in, and developing, virtual land in the metaverse, as well as to make sense of the broader question: can something that’s not ‘real’ have anything in common with real estate?

What is the metaverse?

There is no universally accepted definition of the metaverse, but it is generally regarded as a network of virtual worlds or augmented reality environments in which users can interact with each other. Some
tech companies, including Meta (previously known as Facebook), believe that the metaverse is the future of the internet, and will soon become the place nwhere we live, work and play.

The metaverse is still in its infancy, but a number of these virtual worlds already exist, such as The Sandbox, Decentraland and Otherside.

While many view the metaverse as a network of interconnected virtual worlds, others envision multiple metaverses, each being a distinct virtual space owned and operated by a distinct proprietor and which is not necessarily connected to, or interoperable with, other virtual worlds.

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