The sandbox, the French metaverse that brands pick up

As one of the figureheads of the metaverse, The Sandbox attracts the attention of many companies that want their own space in this virtual universe. Portrait.

Founded in 2011 by Frenchmen Arthur Madrid and Sébastien Borget, The Sandbox has not always been a 3D world associated with blockchain and NFTs. If the first version was already a success, the journey to the metaverse and these technologies began a meteoric rise for the company.

Initially a 2D game on PC and mobile

The title, The Sandbox, refers to the genre of the game itself at the start: the “sandbox”, that is, the player has access to resources to create what he wants in the game and share their creations with others. Another well-known example of a sandbox game is the ultra-popular Minecraft. In The Sandbox, players could then create small 2D universes and games thanks to the many decorative elements and figures already included. The success has been resounding: since 2011, the franchise has amassed 40 million downloads and more than 70 million creations.

What started The Sandbox’s shift towards the metaverse was the announcement of Meta’s huge investment in this parallel universe, but also and above all its acquisition of the Hong Kong company Animoca Brands, which specializes in blockchain. In an interview with Forbes, Sébastien Borget explains the reason for this change: “We realized that it is difficult to keep a player in time only by relying on the promise of recognition of the creators. Also, we had no technical possibility to share a part of the revenue from the created content […] In 2017, we discovered the blockchain used in the game CryptoKitties, which made it possible to buy products using NFTs. So we tested this technology to allow our creators to monetize the content they create. »

Virtual experiences without having to know how to code

Specifically, The Sandbox now provides several tools to create virtual 3D objects and experiences without having to know how to code: VoxEdit, for creating objects, and Game Maker, which, as the name suggests, allows you to create games for free. Items can be sold as NFTs on the marketplace. If The Sandbox works thanks to the Ethereum blockchain, it also has its own tokens to buy on the platform: Sands.

A new showcase for brands

By 2022, The Sandbox therefore looks like a huge 3D world where users can not only enjoy virtual experiences – Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse by 2026 – but also buy or rent virtual real estate at using cryptocurrencies to do whatever they want with it, including monetizing the content they create on the platform using NFTs. An opportunity that more than 200 brands wanted to seize: Warner Music, for example, formed a partnership on a musical theme park, and Adidas, which bought 1.6 million euros of virtual real estate on the platform, offers accessories in NFT. Other initiatives are more inconsistent, such as the purchase of plots by supermarkets such as Carrefour or by insurance companies.

In early March, during the launch of its second alpha season, The Sandbox announced that it had surpassed two million registered users. It is not impossible that the majority just log in from time to time out of curiosity, but the platform still has 18,500 land owners who have bought a total of 166,464 plots, knowing that a plot initially costs about 10,000 dollars. It is estimated that around 70% of The Sandbox plots have been sold. And prices have already started to rise, according to neighbors: The land next to rapper Snoop Dogg’s virtual mansion has been valued at more than $400,000. Unbelievable, but true.

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