Picture the entire world laid out before you. A layered grid spread out above it, charting everything into neat little blocks. All the places you know and love are there: Times Square, the CN Tower, even my house. What if I told you that you could buy those blocks on the grid for just a couple of bucks? And that there is already a thriving community of people buying, selling, and trading land on Earth 2. Confused? You’re not the only one.
What is Earth 2?
Launched on November 3 of last year, Earth 2 is a website that is giving people the opportunity to look at a giant map of the world and start “buying land”, which is to say buy grid tiles overlaid on the map–with prices fluctuating as more money enters the system. Future updates to the self-described burgeoning metaverse include resource acquisition (in the form of “loot” or “treasure”), advertisement income, and “digital assets”. According to the website’s ideology page, Earth 2 aims to position itself as the center of worldwide VR, but what that means exactly is still very much uncharted territory.
As new YouTubers begin positioning themselves as early adopters, influencers, investors, and even religious conservationists, comments sections for their videos are filled with referral codes for the website, which save users 5% on their purchase and award 5% to the distributor of that code. Indeed, most anywhere discussion of the project is, referral codes appear to get posted consistently.
What’s the catch?
Clicking around social media seems to raise more questions than it answers. Apart from curious onlookers inquiring as to whether or not Earth 2 is a scam, many are experiencing difficulties in getting money out of the marketplace. Currently, while you can use PayPal to easily load money in, taking money out requires you to send an email to the Earth 2 team–that email needs to include your government name, bank account information, and other relevant details. Lack of a clean exit strategy has led some to point out the similarities between Earth 2 and a Ponzi scheme (a system in which the money brought in by newer investors is used to pay out the withdrawal requests of older investors). While some users claim to have successfully gotten money back out of Earth 2, the “seamless exit” appears to be a rare occurrence amidst a crowd of users struggling to cash out.
Looking back on things like Second Life and Star Citizen, or even more recent examples like the normalization of cryptocurrency, Decentraland, or that website that was basically a stock market for Twitch streamers, Earth 2 finds itself in good company at the crossroads of ambiguous ambition. An unrealized system of meaning, Earth 2 asks what a piece of the future is worth. In a world gripped by the anxiety of a viral pandemic, as the stock market ushers in all time highs, fear of missing out continues to demonstrate its societal preeminence.
Image Source: Earth 2