Upland is a virtual real-estate game mapped on the real world. Originally released in January, 2020, it’s already old enough to be considered a pioneer in Web3 gaming. It should therefore come as no surprise that the initial excitement was rather intense, and in 2021 it raised $18 million in a valuation for its NFTs.
The developers, Uplandme, Inc., say the game allows players to become real estate moguls in the metaverse. But is it really the metaverse, if Upland itself is mapped to the real world? In theory you could buy your own house, or worse—someone could buy your house! In addition to essentially playing Monopoly online, Upland offers events, collections, treasure hunts, and of course…NFTs.
What’s Upland About?
Upland is an online, open-source game played on the EOS blockchain. Your goal is to buy, sell, and trade property using in-game UPX tokens. The number of real-world cities with available properties is rather limited at the moment, but new ones are added every once in a while. If you’re an active player, you can be the first to “mint” new properties, meaning the first one to buy a property that has never been owned before. In downtown San Francisco, or Portugal, because why not?
Ownership of property accrues interest in the form of UPX, and you can cash this out at any time. You can also chat with other players on Upland’s Discord, which currently boasts an impressive 72,000 members. The reason this is important is because this is where deals are made. Metadeals that could change your metalife. Everything starts with “meta” in the metaverse, including my favorite band, Llica. Enter Upland, man!
Getting Started in Upland
To get on your way to becoming a real-estate mogul in Upland, just visit the landing page in your browser or phone and click on “Enter Upland” in the top right. Everything was surprisingly easy, considering the normal nonsense of getting started in Web3 games. Provide your e-mail, choose a password, enter the verification code sent to your email, and you’re in!
Next, however, comes a slew of in-game pop-ups. Or would that be a metaslew?
These just tell you the basics. You start out as a Visitor, choose your avatar and city (most are in the US, and then there’s Porto, in Portugal), and start looking for stuff to buy.
But wait…you can’t buy anything unless you’re an Uplander, meaning you have to have 10,000 UPX. The game generously gives you 4500 UPX at the start, and a daily bonus of 50 UPX, so you could just wait 11 days if you want to play for free.
The problem is, as a Visitor, you’re only there on a visa, which expires in a few days if you don’t renew it. Renewing your visa in Upland is free and quick, but if you don’t renew it, you lose any progress you’ve made. That’s not a problem though, as anything you’ve made before getting Uplander status is free anyhow. You just can’t buy anything without that status.
UPX tokens themselves in Upland aren’t too expensive in smaller amounts. Just make sure you’re using Chrome if you’re on a Mac. You’ll have to jump through some metahoops though, first with a company called Tilia, Inc. that allows you to choose between paying with crypto or PayPal.
Honestly, using PayPal to buy into the game seems easier than paying with crypto, because you’ll be directed to a site called Utrust that will simply give you a headache. Make sure you have some headache metacation. (See what I did there?)
Once you have enough UPX, you’re an Uplander! I always feel a little weirded out when a Web3 game is mapped to the real world. It almost feels like an invasion of privacy. Fortunately, my city isn’t on the map yet. Well, it is, but there’s nothing for sale there. Considering how many cities the devs have added since the game debuted (there are 13 total now…in this entire metaworld), my city will likely never have properties for sale, either. Out of curiosity I looked up the devs’ address to see if I could buy it, and I found it! In the game however, it’s not for sale. I understand why.
There’s not actually that much to talk about in terms of gameplay in Upland, because there isn’t any. Sure, looking around for properties to buy and trade can be fun and addictive if your sole goal is to look around for properties to buy and trade, but if you’re looking for action…ehh, look elsewhere.
Buying and trading can be enjoyable though. In Upland, you can’t improve your properties like you can in Monopoly. No hotels or houses, unless you have Sparks. Only top-tier players can earn Sparks, though. These are equivalent to man-hours of labor, and are very, very expensive, as they depend on the title you have in the game. Titles are very necessary depending on how active you plan on being. For example if you’re a basic Uplander, anything you buy is frozen in your possession for 30 days.
If you’re a Pro, Director, or Executive, that freeze period shrinks respectively down to three days. New players are limited to $100 purchases for the first two weeks, and after that they are “limited” to $10,000 per transaction. Wow! Players have so far earned a total of around $1,500,000 playing Upland. Of course, you could always achieve the highest status level in Upland, which is “Chief Executive”. For that you’ll only need 100,000,000 UPX (yes, one hundred million). You do the math, but in this game, it would be metamath? Meth? Plus you’ll get a Spark. One Spark.
There’s no final victory in Upland. The game doesn’t end. You can make a lot of money if you invest a lot of money, and if there are enough players. Everything depends on how many players you have. The more players, the more they invest, and the sooner you get in the game…the more you could earn. Hopefully the devs will make Cairo the next city so you can buy a Pyramid.
Upland is Monopoly in Web3, more and less. I say “more and less” because you can earn so much more, but there is less in terms of gameplay. The graphics are nothing special, which is why I haven’t mentioned them yet, and there are no sounds or songs (maybe just one band). It is not free to play if you actually want to play, but if you do want to play, be prepared to pay. Now that…that was a meta verse.