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What is Decentraland (MANA)? A Beginner's Guide
Author: changehero
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When the Metaverse narrative emerged thanks to Meta, crypto developers of virtual worlds enjoyed the attention but also were pressured into making their own metaverses ready for adoption. What is Decentraland, one of the pioneering crypto Metaverses? Read all you need to know in our guide!

Key Takeaways

What is Decentraland?

First and foremost, Decentraland is a traversable 3D virtual reality platform. Its unique spin is in being built on the Ethereum blockchain and having capabilities it enables. For one, Decentraland is, as the name suggests, decentralized because the game data is stored on multiple community-maintained servers. Furthermore, the platform has monetization capabilities possible only in the blockchain ecosystem. The main appeal of Decentraland is in ownership of parcels of digital land. On these lots, owners are free to set up activities and environments, which can be monetized with the native tokens. So, what is Decentraland’s price of admission, if any? While the native cryptocurrency MANA is necessary for in-game purchases, users do not need to pay to explore the many districts of Decentraland. The lands are represented by ERC721 non-fungible LAND tokens, each lot is 6m squared and is assigned a coordinate in the Decentraland’s metaverse. The location of a lot is important, since there are districts of LANDs that give owners and creators targeted traffic.

History and Team behind Decentraland

In 2017, the Decentraland team, led by Ariel “Ari” Meilich and Esteban Ordano at the time, conducted an ICO for the MANA token, as well as select LAND pieces. The goal of $25 million was reached in little over an hour due to a small number of large investors. The platform itself was first unveiled in a closed beta in 2019, and the public stage commenced in February 2020. For Ari Meilich, Decentraland was only one of the ventures among the many startups founded by him. In 2020, he stepped down, handing over the reins to the community. Ordano had a swath of relevant experience with Matic Network and BitPay, as well as blockchain infrastructure provider Zeppelin Solutions. While Meilich went on to create another game development company Big Time Studios, Ordano is still advising the Decentraland project.

What is MANA?

As briefly mentioned before, Decentraland has a native fungible cryptocurrency usable on the platform: the MANA token. While each LAND token is unique, MANA tokens are used as a form of currency on the Decentraland marketplace. Since Decentraland is powered by Ethereum, MANA and LAND use the Ethereum token standards: ERC20 for MANA, ERC721 NFT for LANDs. What can be bought with MANA? First of all, parcels of virtual land. The MANA used to purchase LAND is burned (i.e. removed from the supply). Moreover, MANA can buy you avatars, names, wearables and access to content should the parcel owner charge for it. After the founders stepped down from directing the project, Decentraland was supported by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). As is often the case, token ownership grants voting rights to the users and investors. In the community vote, MANA and LAND owners can decide the auction rules and policy of this particular Metaverse.

What is Decentraland Crypto MANA Used For?

Therefore, there are a few use cases for MANA within the Decentraland metaverse:

Comparison with Similar Projects

Perhaps the most prominent competitor to Decentraland at the moment is The Sandbox. After all, the premises of the projects are the same, and the differences between them are in the specifics. The Sandbox Metaverse is divided into more plots of land (166,464 vs. 90,601), and it allows joint ownership. In Decentraland, parcels of land are generally individually owned with the exception of community-owned plazas. The Sandbox is not run by a DAO (at least, yet) but by a Hong Kong-based company Bacasable. However, their users get to enjoy a better idea of where the project is headed, since there are always updates in the official channel. Decentraland was the first to make a proof of concept and launch a public version of their virtual world. The Sandbox at the moment is in its public alpha stage, and accessible on a PC with an official client.

What is Decentraland Criticized For?

Decentraland is not just a blockchain platform, but one that offers a working product — a free-roam game — to end users. It seems that some of them voice frustrations at Decentraland as a game: they report performance issues and lack of things to do. In the same thread, other users fairly point out that the client is in beta, and if the Metaverse is here to stay, these issues will be sorted out. The latter challenge was pointed out by NFT Plazas all the way back in 2020, when the game went public. They argued that prohibitive costs will hinder the speed with which the metaverse will fill with content but they commended the project’s team for the effort to reward creators.

Partnerships and Future Plans

What is Decentraland’s user count? Ari Meilich claims the game has reached 300 thousand monthly active users, even though the real growth started “a couple months ago”. Since there is no central entity to oversee and fund the development, the planning is done by the community. The closest to release features are improvements to SDK and a desktop client, but editor, localization and companion app are also in the plans. Decentraland news is frequently name-dropping high-profile partners to their Metaverse. Samsung hosted an event for the users interested in their updates, Samsung Unpacked, in a dedicated lobby, Samsung 837X. JP Morgan’s blockchain branch, Onyx, has also set up an Onyx Lounge in the Metajuku district. The virtual lounge was unveiled along with the report in which Onyx named the metaverse a $1 trillion market opportunity.

Decentraland in Social Media

Decentraland has turned two years old! Despite being largely under development, it has already got thousands of users that believe in the future development.

The official account announced an event in the Metaverse to celebrate the anniversary.

Meanwhile, even the mainstream media is reporting the spike in demand in virtual real estate. Just like NFTs pitch ownership of art and other assets, some people with cash to spare grab virtual land to be a landlord in the metaverse.

How to store MANA?

As an ERC20 token, MANA can be stored in most wallets that have support for Ethereum tokens. The guidelines for Decentraland recommend Metamask for its useful integrations. The ChangeHero team can recommend the Exodus wallet if you want a software wallet with as many features as Metamask. Instant swaps are one of them, and the best rates for it are provided by ChangeHero. For cold storage away from hackers and exploits, you can use a Trezor wallet. It can be easily managed with a desktop or browser application Trezor Suite.

How to Exchange MANA?

Getting MANA with crypto without sign-ups is possible on ChangeHero, and it’s very easy:

  1. Choose the currencies on the home page, amounts and the type of exchange. Provide your MANA wallet address in the next step and check the amounts;
  2. Double-check the provided information, read and accept the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy;
  3. Send in a single transaction the sum of cryptocurrency you will be exchanging. Fixed Rate transactions have a 15-minute limit;
  4. All done? Now we are doing all the work: checking the incoming transaction and doing the exchange as soon as it arrives. 
    • The Best Rate transactions will use the rate current to the time when your funds arrive. The Fixed Rate will use the rate at the time of step 1;
  5. As soon as the exchange has been processed, your MANA are on the way to your wallet. 

ChangeHero’s customer support is available 24/7 in the chat on our website or through the email: [email protected].


The pandemic normalized many things that previously were thought to be unfeasible, from remote work to moving every facet of our interactions to the Metaverse. Decentraland arrived on the scene just in time to be at the forefront of this nascent sphere. Want to learn more about all things crypto? Check out our blog and follow us on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Telegram.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Decentraland and how does it work?

Decentraland is a three-dimensional traversable virtual world divided into thematic districts and lobbies. Decentraland is powered by the Ethereum blockchain, so it utilizes MANA tokens as a currency and NFTs for in-game assets and plots of land.

What can you do in Decentraland?

Decentraland has thematic districts, where owners of plots can place activities, games and experiences for others to enjoy. Users can also buy wearables and custom avatars in exchange for MANA.

What is MANA?

MANA is a native cryptocurrency of Decentraland. In addition to buying in-game assets and parcels of land, it grants its holder voting rights on the future of the virtual world.

What is Decentraland built on?

Decentraland functions are supported by the Ethereum network. The front-end of Decentraland is developed in Unreal Engine 4.

What is the future of Decentraland?

The future of Decentraland is decided by the DAO. Particular issues are voted on by the holders of MANA and LAND proportional to their stake. The features coming out soon are desktop client and a better SDK.