Upland: Analyzing the Leading Virtual Real-Estate Game
This article has originally been published on Udonis’ blog.
Virtual real estate is booming and many people are deciding to buy land in the metaverse. Upland is a game where players can do just that — buy and trade properties.
It became very popular recently and boasts an impressive number of monthly active users, which helped it reach the top charts.
Here’s what it’s about and what made it so popular.
What Is Upland?
Upland is a virtual property trading game on the EOS blockchain platform. It’s often described as Monopoly on the blockchain. As one Reddit user put it, “It’s just like Monopoly, minus the years of emotional scars, family drama and living room bloodshed — but in the metaverse, bro!”
In Upland, players can become virtual landowners, buy, sell, and trade real estate, as well as build their metaverse empire.
We can also characterize Upland as a play-to-earn game since there are several earning opportunities in this blockchain game. It’s also referred to as a play-to-own game because players can own NFT properties.
It’s available as a mobile and browser game.
How Successful Is Upland?
Upland has recently become one of the leading blockchain games. Here are some stats that confirm that.
According to DappRadar, Upland had more than 150,000 active users in the past 30 days. That made it the sixth most popular play-to-earn game.
Furthermore, Upland is the number one game on the EOS blockchain.
The mobile version of Upland has been downloaded more than 2.7 million times since its release. However, the data shows that the downloads have been withering during the last few months.
Data source: AppMagic, a leading mobile intelligence platform. Get 3 days of free access to all AppMagic’s features, as well as 10% off, by clicking this link.
According to DappRadar, there were more than 6 million transactions made to Upland’s smart contracts in the past 30 days.
How Does Upland Work?
In the following sections, I’ll explain the most important elements of this game. However, keep in mind that calling Upland a game is a bit of a stretch. The same goes for most blockchain games, at least in the current stages of their development.
Yes, it has some gamified experiences, but it’s far from traditional sim games that are extremely complex and endlessly fun.
With that out of the way, here are the most exciting Upland features.
Property ownership is at the core of this game. New players get 3,000 UPX for free which allows them to purchase a cheap property. The goal is to grow from there and become a real estate mogul.
What’s interesting is that the Upland metaverse is mapped to the real world. For example, players can own a virtual property at the same address as their physical property or live out their dreams and own properties in exclusive areas like San Francisco, New York, or Spain.
However, the prices reflect those in the real world. For example, properties in San Francisco are one of the most expensive ones.
At first, only a few cities were available. Since then, the game has expanded and offers more regions. Moreover, new cities are added regularly.
There are several Upland statuses based on players’ net worth, each of which grants access to exclusive features.
When players first start playing, they have a Visitor Status. That means they need to stamp their Visa once every 7 days or they lose everything.
Once they earn 10,000 UPX they become an Uplander and at this point, the game account is permanently linked to an EOS account. One of the main perks of becoming an Uplander is the ability to list properties for UPX and USD.
Players who earn 100,000 get the Pro status which earns them Spark (necessary for building). Those who have a net worth of 1 million UPX or more become a Director, 10 million UPX gives players Executive status, and Chief Executive is achieved by earning 100 million UPX.
There are no characters in Upland per se. However, the Block Explorer serves as an avatar. It constantly explores this universe, but players can’t control its direction. Players can use Sends to visit a minted property, but they need to pay a visit fee.
Additionally, players can teleport to another city by using one of the traveling options.
Traveling in Upland
Players can travel to different regions and cities on a plane, bus, or train. However, traveling costs UPX. Just like in the real world, the bus and train are less expensive, but slower.
Buying and flipping properties can be fun as it requires strategy and developing connections. However, perhaps the most interesting Upland feature is the ability to develop properties by adding buildings and structures.
This game feature is not fully realized yet, but the plan is to use these structures as homes, businesses, galleries, and more.
This also opens up the possibility for user-generated content, as well as additional earning opportunities.
However, to create 3D objects and structures for this metaverse, players need Spark, a currency that powers property development. More specifically, to construct a building, players need to stake Spark until the building is completed.
This currency will become more and more important as other digital assets become available.
As I mentioned, Spark is a sought-after currency in Upland because it allows players to build in this metaverse.
However, UPX is Upland’s main token — it’s a fungible utility token. Players can earn it in the game and purchase it with fiat currency. However, they can’t withdraw it or trade it on decentralized exchanges.
The main use for UPX is to buy properties. These properties are non-fungible tokens, which is where the real value lies. That means that each property is unique and has only one owner, unlike fungible tokens like UPX.
UPX and property NFTs are the basis of Upland’s play-to-earn model.
Play-to-Earn Model in Upland
Here are the different ways players can earn in Upland.
Becoming a property owner is incentivized with property earnings that the players can collect every three hours. The earnings depend on the value of the property. According to Upland’s website, “if you have a property that’s worth 100,000 UPX, it will generate you 14,700 UPX (14.7%) annually.”
As I mentioned before, each property is an NFT. Because of that, players are full owners and can trade their properties with other players.
Trading properties is another earning opportunity for those who study and understand the real estate market in different cities.
Just like in the real world, players are trying to sell properties for more than they bought them for.
Players can receive rewards and boosts in earnings by completing collections. For example, a player needs to add three properties to the San Francisco collection to complete it and boost their earnings.
Earning Visit Fees
As I mentioned earlier, when players visit minted properties they need to pay a visit fee. Naturally, property owners collect these fees, which is another earning opportunity.
A unique Upland feature is treasure hunts. These events are the closest thing to Upland being an actual game that’s fun and playable. However, it’s still very basic.
Essentially, players get hints on Upland’s map that help them discover treasures or piñatas, both of which result in rewards. There are also different treasure hunt modes — learn more about them here.
Upland’s economy functions a bit differently than other P2E games because its users can’t exchange the game’s token UPX for other tokens or coins.
You’re probably wondering, how are people earning real money from this game then?
Upland has a digital asset-to-USD program that enables its users to list a property in US dollars, instead of UPX. That means they receive USD if someone buys it.
Upland: The Final Verdict
Here’s the thing about Upland.
Just like most other blockchain projects, it falls into the trap of being a gamified crypto business experience rather than an actual game that’s fun to play. While there’s some strategy in Upland that possibly makes it interesting, I’m not sure whether that’ll be enough for long-term retention.
On the other hand, this project is still in its early stages, so it might be unfair to judge it too harshly.
When looking at its roadmap, there are some cool new features that seem exciting and might add more depth to Upland. Most notably Metaventures, which is currently in the beta testing phase. Metaventures are essentially businesses and shops players can run in Upland.
According to the project’s website, “Each Metaventure owner will build their own unique brand to create, manufacture, and sell digital assets, act as a broker on behalf of other players, lend in-game assets, and more!”
This feature will add another layer to its play-to-earn model and it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll affect Upland’s economy.