A country in the Metaverse

Published on December 15, 2022


Information technologies are also communication technologies.

The first promise of the Internet and today social networks is to be able to connect individuals and to be able to communicate easily and instantly with the entire planet. It is what has been called the “global village”. It has become a normal habit. What these technologies have also made possible is the creation of communities, worlds that do not exist, out of nothing, outside of any state or organized institutional structure. This promise and this possibility is reinforced with the metaverse which makes it possible to create platforms, spaces where we can meet and exchange in a virtual universe as in a new world, with our avatar.

A metaverse that is talked about in France is The Sandbox, which has the distinction of being created by French people and of which one of the founders, Sébastien Borget, is today the CEO.

Originally, The Sandbox was a video game studio created in 2012 (ten years already!). It allowed players to create their own worlds and participate in challenges.

In 2018, The Sandbox was acquired by Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong gaming company. It is after this acquisition that the current version of The Sandbox was developed, based on the Ethereum cryptocurrency. This then helps provide a virtual environment where players can create, own and sell their gaming experiences, digital objects, monetization opportunities and inter-game interoperability.

The sandbox created the platform for players and game creators to buy and trade NFTs and digital assets, which also generated interest from investors. It works with a blockchain and cryptocurrency specific to the universe, the sand. In 2019, The Sandbox raised two million dollars from a group of investors, then another two million in 2020 and finally $93 million in 2021, mainly from Softbank.

For two or three years, the platform has attracted not only players, but also brands that have bought plots with the idea of ​​developing new experiences to sell their brands. The principle is to sell “lands”, equivalent to tokens, which represents a digital part of the platform map. Players can purchase “land” to create experiences and games on, which are “land assets”. You can also merge “countries” to make estates, which allows owners to create larger, more immersive experiences there. The number of “countries” on The Sandbox is limited to 166,464, each consisting of an area of ​​96*96 meters. These “countries” can then be marketed as NFTs, on The Sandbox or on external NFT sales platforms (such as OpenSea or Rarible). Today, 70% of the land has already been sold, and The Sandbox takes a 5% commission on each secondary market resale, which is the majority now.

To understand the popularity of the concept, it is sufficient to note that the primary sale in January 2022, which offered 61 “lands” (at a price of 1,000 sands, or 5,000 dollars) and 95 “premium lots” (at a price of 4,500 sands ). /$22,000) was completely sold out in … two seconds! (Source: CFTE – Center for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship). Because the primary sale of “land” by The Sandbox is only made at certain times (the Raffles). Otherwise, you have to buy them on the secondary market via platforms like OpenSea.

Buying “land” on The Sandbox is easier than buying “land” in the physical world: everything is done with a single click on OpenSea. But it is also more complex because, unlike property purchases in the physical world, there is no trusted third party represented by a lawyer to confirm the origin of the land you are buying or that the sale is legitimate. . Hence the scams and hacks that can be common in this world of NFTs, which originate from malware that can make prices rise or fall with fake transactions. This is not specific to The Sandbox, but is a general risk for NFTs.

Despite these risks, the volume of “land” purchases on The Sandbox increased sharply again in 2021.

According to the Center for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) survey, the biggest buyers among brands are media, gaming or marketing companies. But there is also Carrefour, Alexandre Bompard, CEO, who has declared that he would pass job interviews in the metaverse. Which earned him a series of mocking comments in social networks about the aesthetic poverty of his virtual store. And the 36-hectare land bought by Carrefour for 120 Ethereum (300,000 euros) is still empty.

Many brands actually buy “land” without really knowing what to do with it, victims of the syndrome FOMO (Fear of missing out), the fear of missing out. And the price of “land” varies according to its proximity to a well-known brand. Thus, rapper Snoop Dog bought some to create one Snoopverse, which especially attracted those nearby, selling for up to $450,000.

Sandkassen had a turnover of 180 million dollars in 2021. Sébastien Borget recently declared to Challenges that the Sandbox card is now valued at $1.4 billion and that transactions on “land” in 2021 represented a volume of $500 million. Although the presence of the platform is still modest, around 39,000 unique visitors per day and 201,000 per month. The challenge now is to bring users back by gamifying as many things as possible, such as, still according to Sébastien Borget, “quests, socializing with meetings or NFT exposure”.

Will the metaverse be Top or Flop? And what will be The Sandbox’s development strategy for the future?

The question remains open, with pros and cons, who, without knowing anything special about it, give us their predictions.

In the meantime, to buy a “land” in The Sandbox, you can follow tutorials that explain everything to you.

On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be a Black Friday for these sales.

To be continued.

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