Decentraland is a virtual world that is owned and built by those who use it. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, the 3D space offers a finite amount of land that can be purchased using MANA tokens. Owners have full control over their environment, and a drag-and-drop editing tool enables them to create artwork and experiences for others — and anything they build can be monetized.
The nonfungible tokens representing the "parcels" of digital real estate are referred to as LAND. Decentraland initially sold off large chunks of the space in its virtual world through a Dutch auction, in which prices start high and are lowered gradually. A second-hand marketplace enables users to purchase real estate from others and to expand their current holdings.
Smart contracts are used to track the ownership of LAND. While the consensus layer provides unique coordinates for each plot, the content-distribution layer consists of a decentralized storage system that ensures the virtual world's content is rendered correctly.
According to Decentraland, there are a range of use cases for its virtual world. A custom scripting language means applications and games can be developed, while brands can advertise on land parcels that attract the most traffic. New forms of crypto collectibles can also be created within Decentraland. There is also a social element, and the platform is positioning itself as a decentralized alternative to major forums and networks.
As well as being used for purchasing parcels within the ecosystem, users can spend MANA on customizing their avatars. Given Decentraland's decentralized nature, users can use their MANA ERC-20 tokens (when wrapped) to vote on proposals that may concern the project's future development — with ownership of LAND ERC-721 tokens (aka NFTs) also contributing to a user's voting power.
Initially, the total supply of MANA was set at 2.8 billion tokens. The cryptocurrency was designed to be deflationary, as the tokens that were used to purchase land during a spate of initial auctions were burned — as well as other burn mechanisms, such as 2.5% of the MANA used to buy an item on the platform's marketplace.
In January 2021, however, it was announced that this 2.5% transaction fee would be transferred to a decentralized autonomous organization instead of being burned. The MANA within this DAO has been set aside to "help fund the development of features and content" for the platform in future.
As of June 2021, the total supply of MANA stands at just under 2.2 billion. Of this, 1.58 billion is in circulation. A high point for MANA's price came in October 2021, when the news of Facebook changing its corporate name to Meta pushed the token's price to almost $5.
The launch team of Decentraland included cofounders Esteban Ordano and Ariel Meilich, who served as tech lead and project lead, respectively.
Since April 2020, however, Ordano has described himself as an advisor to the project, owing to its decentralized nature. The software engineer has also been involved with other platforms such as Matic Network and BitPay.
Meilich has since gone on to become the CEO of Big Time Studios, which is creating a multiplayer game featuring NFTs.