The White Llama is a mascot of the Upland virtual real estate game, which just added Fresno as a market. Images via Upland
Written by Edward Smith
In 1995, if given the chance to buy land in the River Park area of Fresno, would you? One app is offering just that — in a way.
Just as art imitates life, demand for virtual Bay Area real estate in an online game has spilled over and now developers of “Upland” have added Fresno properties to its “metaverse.”
In a game Silicon Valley co-founder Dirk Lueth likens to the board game “Monopoly,” Upland opened Fresno up to its marketplace as a way to let new users have a chance to buy and sell property.
Upland combines real estate values from Zillow with blockchain technology — known for its use in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin — to allow in-app purchases for properties. Tracts of land on Nob Hill in San Francisco, for example would be more expensive than others.
Since it debuted in January, the game has garnered 3,000-4,000 daily users, and nearly 20,000 total users overall.
Properties quickly appreciated in value, says Lueth. Incorporating Fresno was a way to allow new users into an entry-level marketplace.
“Fresno is the third-largest metro region in Northern California and features a lot of beautiful neighborhoods and properties,” said Idan Zuckerman, co-founder of Upland, in a press release. “Upland players will enjoy the short commute from San Francisco and can rack up properties at modest rates. In summary the launch of Fresno fits our overall strategy to provide also lower-cost locations allowing new players to enjoy Upland on a smaller budget.”
Using blockchain technology, players use an online currency called UPX to buy and own virtual properties within the game. The plan with the game is to soon incorporate development into the interface where property owners can add car dealerships, coffee shops and more into their investment portfolio.
There’s a social media aspect planned for the game where users are able to meet up in virtual coffee shops or buy virtual cars to speed through the map faster.
Upland will soon debut a new aspect of the program called Fiat-Out, where properties can be sold virtually among players.
Fresno is the third city added to the game’s universe after New York, says Lueth.
Correction: This story was corrected to reflect that fiat-out will be used to sell properties virtually to other players.