A lot of people’s first question when you present an NFT is: “So what do I do with it?” Utility is always front of mind. Metaverses are one solution to that question, as they give users a virtual means to interact with their assets. On top of that, they’re just plain fun. Enter Upland, one of the coolest metaverses around right now. I spoke with one of the brand’s co-founders, Dirk Lueth about what he calls “Earth’s Metaverse,” and all of the unbelievable opportunities opened up by Upland.
The digital world, which launched in January of 2020, aims to replicate real world locations in the metaverse. As of right now, there are a few cities available: San Francisco, Fresno, Brooklyn and Manhattan. But the sky’s the limit for what’s to come. Upland had close to 100,000 monthly active users this last month and continues to get bigger and bigger. The metaverse is centered around three main pillars: play, earn and connect. We’ll dive into each one below:
This one’s a no brainer. You want to have fun. There are numerous opportunities for playing built into the game, from treasure and scavenger hunts to other engaging live events. Or you could just start to collect similar properties—like ones on the same street. Sounds familiar? No wonder, the genesis of the project was a game of monopoly between the three founders who thought, “Hey, wouldn’t this be fun to play out virtually?”
This is one of the most exciting pillars of the game. You can purchase properties and earn a yield on them. By completing one of the collections mentioned above, you can watch your yield increase the more you own. You can buy properties using the in-game token, UPX, which can be purchased with crypto, credit card and Paypal on the web, or via in-app purchase on the App Store or Google Play store. The exchange rate is fixed; you get 1,000 UPX for $1. Properties have sold anywhere from 500 UPX to 23,000,000 UPX. At the time of this writing, over 800 people have accumulated a net worth of more than 1,000,000 UPX in the game. Pretty neat.
And it doesn’t stop there: Upland also allows you to sell your virtual property and other NFTs for US$ directly to other players. Think about it: now you will be able to operate a virtual business but make real money! When I spoke with Dirk, he told me: “We want to create tons of mini entrepreneurs by providing the opportunity to sell all kinds of digital goods to other players.” Upland is just the infrastructure for people to make money on their own. For the US$ transactions, they have partners with Tiliapay, Inc. a subsidiary of Linden Labs. Linden Labs is the brand behind Second Life —a legendary game that rose to prominence in the aughts for allowing people to monetize their game experience. Eventually, folks will be able to import NFTs from other blockchains. Upland’s recent collaboration with Blockchain Heroes, where people were able to purchase collectibles from both brands, foreshadows some of the kinds of crossovers we may see in the future.
In an era of ubiquitous social media, socialization is an increasingly important aspect of any game experience. Although this aspect of the program isn’t live yet, people will eventually have the opportunity to meet in virtual coffee shops to hang out, emulating a real-life social experience. It’ll be just like wandering around San Francisco, looking for some pals to hang out with. By the way: When you want to see your avatar in NYC, but it happens that you “are” in San Francisco, you can’t just “go” there. Traveling around Upland mimics real life travel. You’ll have to take a plane to get there! Imagine once they take it global.
So what’s next for Upland? Too much to fit into this article. They plan to take the metaverse international this quarter, but the exact cities are classified. They’ll continue to build the world geographically, all the while incorporating more elements, including real world entertainment and consumer brands into the game itself. And it doesn’t stop there. They will blur the real and virtual world in the future. Imagine you buy the next concert ticket of your favorite music star, but what you get is the live experience at the venue and you get to take home a bunch of NFTs from it: the ticket itself, a unique piece of memorabilia and a video moment that only you receive because you were at the concert! Mind blowing.
I can’t wait to see what’s next.