In brief

  • Decentraland is a blockchain-enabled metaverse game that uses its native MANA token as an in-game fungible currency.
  • With MANA, you can buy and sell NFTs that represent avatar wearables, avatar emotes, and metaverse plots called LAND.
  • Decentraland also permits you to customize your LAND and create custom avatar wearables and emotes.

Decentraland, launched in 2020 by the Decentraland Foundation, is one of the most popular crypto metaverse games. While early metaverse titles (World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Destiny 2) predate blockchain technology or simply don’t integrate it into their games, a new iteration of metaverses—such as Decentraland—is combining metaverse gaming and blockchain protocols. Called “crypto metaverses,” these metaverses make use of blockchain technology to enable features such as in-game crypto payments, play-to-earn (P2E) gaming, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Even the direction and development of the game itself can be influenced through governance token-based voting implemented via a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).

Although having a little crypto know-how is helpful to take advantage of all of Decentraland’s features, you don't need to be a crypto expert to play this innovative game. You can even play a version of it that doesn’t require a crypto wallet or cryptocurrency. Let’s get started!

Start Exploring the Decentraland Metaverse

  1. Go to the Decentraland website. You must sign up and play via your desktop/laptop as there isn’t a mobile version (at the time of writing).
  2. Choose how you want to explore Decentraland
    • Play as a guest by opening the game in your web browser.
    • You can also download a desktop version of the game.
    • Optional: Connect a crypto wallet to your account at this time. 
  3. Create and customize your Decentraland avatar. You can customize your character with a variety of pre-set options that allow you to change your avatar’s eyes, mouth, hairstyle, clothes, and a variety of other visual features.
  4. You can now explore Decentraland via your avatar.
  5. Once you enter your first Decentraland area, you can go through an optional tutorial that explains the basic controls.
    • Pressing “c” will display a menu that lists all these controls should you need to recall them later. In general, you use the keyboard to move around and interact with your environment while the mouse is used to orientate the view of your avatar within the game.
    • You can use the map to explore different areas within Decentraland.
    • You can also attend various events that are hosted by Decentraland.

You are now playing a basic version of the game that doesn’t require cryptocurrency — or a crypto wallet (unless you already chose to connect a crypto wallet). You can go to different maps, attend different events, and interact with fellow Decentraland gamers. At this stage, Decentraland is comparable to the legacy metaverses mentioned above. If you want to harness the full functionality and robustness of its blockchain-based version, you’ll need a crypto wallet — and crypto.

Going Further with Decentraland

If you have already been playing the blockchain-not-required version and want to go further, here are your next steps and what they enable you to do:

  1. Connect a crypto wallet to your Decentraland account. While in-game, you will be given the option to connect through the game menu. You can also connect your wallet via the homepage. If you already connected your wallet when you signed up initially, you can skip this step.
    • Decentraland crypto wallet options include MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, or any WalletConnect-supported wallets.
    • If you don’t already have one of these wallets, you’ll have to create one. If you need help, you can go to these crypto wallets’ websites for step-by-step tutorials.
  2. Purchase Decentraland’s in-game currency MANA. It can be purchased on centralized crypto exchanges (CEXs) such as Binance, Kraken, Coinbase, and Gemini. If you already have crypto, you can also exchange certain stablecoins and wrapped ether (wETH) for MANA through a decentralized exchange (DEX) like Uniswap.
  3. You can now further customize your avatar by making purchases in Decentraland’s marketplace. You can purchase custom wearables (clothing and accessories) and even purchase custom avatar hairstyles, eyes, mouths, and more. The options are akin to customized avatar options (skins) in games like Fortnite, with one key distinction: you own these customized avatar pieces because they are all non-fungible tokens (NFTs). You can even purchase custom emotes (greetings, dances, stunts, and more) that allow you to express yourself through your avatar. Should you choose, you can later sell your NFT accessories/emotes for cryptocurrency.
  4. You can even purchase areas within the Decentraland metaverse. Called LAND, if you purchase these NFTs, you actually own areas within Decentraland. The smallest LAND you can purchase is called a Parcel. If you purchase Parcels that are adjacent to each other, you can combine them into a larger area called an Estate. Like the avatar accessories, you can later sell your LAND NFT if you choose to do so. You also have the option to rent out your LAND to someone else in exchange for MANA (or rent someone else’s LAND).
    • It’s worth reiterating that MANA is required to purchase these in-game NFTs. Unlike the NFTs themselves, MANA is a fungible token that is interchangeable, much like  bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), bitcoin cash (BCH), and many others. As such, MANA can also be traded for other cryptocurrencies through a crypto exchange. Originally just an ERC-20 token, MANA is now a multi-chain token that is also available on other blockchains. 
    • When you look at Decentraland’s NFT marketplace, you’ll notice that the type of MANA an NFT is sold for is also listed — in addition to the price. In general, the avatar wearables are priced in MANA that’s on the Polygon blockchain; Parcels and Estates are usually priced in MANA that has remained on the Ethereum blockchain.
    • These in-game NFTs vary widely in price. This typically depends on the number available, their rarity, and how desirable they are. While avatar accessories can sell for less than the crypto equivalent of $1.00, some of the Land NFTs sell for more than $100,000 worth of MANA.

Decentraland Governance, NFT Creation, and the Future

Decentraland AvatarAccesoriesNFT2

Should you desire, you even have the option of creating your own NFTs within Decentraland. You can create your own custom wearables and emotes. Once that is done, you can use them for yourself or publish them — and sell them for MANA. And if you own (or rent) Land, you can customize your area through their visual editing tool.

Another notable feature allows MANA holders to vote on changes to the metaverse via the Decentraland DAO. This allows users to decide how the game changes and evolves over time. MANA holders can vote on: dates of LAND auctions, marketplace and sales fees, new LAND features and upgrades, and more. This puts the community in control of Decentraland (and not a centralized gaming company). This ostensibly means that Decentraland will continually evolve to meet the desires of its global community. For some, it may be appealing to vote on Decentraland proposals. Others may simply want to forgo voting and focus on creating their own NFTs and experience Decentraland updates in a more passive fashion.

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