A French virtual sandbox enjoying international success? The Sandbox is above all the story of a French success. We have to go back to 2011 to go back to the origins of the project. A little over ten years ago, two Frenchmen – Sébastien Borget and Arthur Madrid – created a mobile video game, The Sandbox. Each player could create his own 2D universe with different characters (heroes but also enemies) and multiple levels. Ten years later, the principle remains essentially the same, but the experience has become much more immersive. And the appeal is real: the company, now based in Hong Kong, raised about $93 million from Japan’s Softbank at the end of 2021.
Ever since, The sandpit took the turn of the metaverse and NFTs. In reality, now in 3D, everyone can still create their own universe with this virtual game but every imagined content is now associated with an NFT (non-fungible token). And it needs buy or rent digital lots with cryptocurrency tokens. Any creation (a house, a store, a park, a character, etc.) can then be resold on a marketplace with a certificate of authenticity linked to the blockchain. So since the end of 2019, The Sandbox has been accumulating $144 million in trading volume, of which 70 million in real estate alone. And the metaverse even has its own cryptocurrency, Sand, with a capitalization of nearly $2 billion.
The Sandbox: virtual world, real business
According to specialist site Naavik, The Sandbox has approximately: 30,000 active users per month, half of whom play for at least an hour a day. The service has a total of about 500,000 members. This is still very little, especially if we compare it to Roblox (202 million monthly active users), Minecraft (140 million) or Fortnite (80 million). But that doesn’t stop The Sandbox from valued at $14.8 billion in spite of everything, a real success that could give Emmanuel Macron ideas of a European metaverse. It is the metaverse where the average investment per user is highest.
The reason ? The interest of brands and companies in this metaverse. Currently, an estimated 19,000 people have plots in The Sandbox. Specifically, of the 166,000 “Lands” (plots or virtual real estate) available in total, about 35,000 are still waiting to find buyers. Each country is a unique token (NFT, non-fungible) based on the Ethereum blockchain. So to date, about 70% of the game map is already occupied. Starting price of a plot? $10 to $12,000, or about 10,000 euros. Currently, the Cryptoast site estimates that: 15 to 20% of the Countries are owned by companies.
A metaverse being thwarted by companies?
Just under 200 brands have invested in this metaverse. Among them we can quote: Gucci, Adidas, Ubisoft, Samsung, Warner Music, Atari… Why do they invest? “Blockchain is one of the most innovative technologies of our generation.said Scott Zalaznik, general manager of the Digital division at Adidas. It offers unlimited possibilities to communicate with our members. The foundation we are building with Web3 will lead to new creative opportunities for partnerships, engagement through digital goods and a path to a more inclusive future.”
In concrete terms, each brand invests in a new area of communication. Adidas, which acquired 144 lots for 400 ETH ($1.7 million), is selling NFTs. In addition to their own value, they give access to exclusive experiences in the metaverse, but also to very real series. More than 20,000 pieces of textiles and sneakers (Stan Smith, Forum, etc.) should be released “for real” by November 2022.
Fashion, supermarket, concerts and … real estate speculation
Gucci, he created the Gucci Vault. This space becomes the place of unique experiences. It will also be used to sell fashion items so that players can wear them… in the game. Having your avatar dressing in Gucci, quite a concept. Total virtual items sold thanks to NFTs, the benefits of which will be very real for the Italian brand, a subsidiary of the French group Kering.
—gucci (@gucci) February 9, 2022
Warner Music, for its part, is considering organizing virtual concerts and meetings with the label’s artists. He is in the process of creating a “musical theme park”. Places that will be particularly popular and, just like in the real world, will drive up the price of surrounding lots. For example, the lots near the virtual mansion of rapper Snoop Dog in The Sandbox have been valued at more than 400,000 euros. Real estate speculation would also be one of the first reasons to invest in this virtual world.
In France, Carrefour, Casino Group or Axa France also have their space in The Sandbox. “We have acquired an area equivalent to 30 supermarkets in the Metaverse, said Carrefour in a press release, without really specifying what it intended to do with it. A “meta supermarket”? Not so sure, “the metaverse is not necessarily a copy-paste of the physical world”, says a spokesperson for the brand. Carrefour could organize “events or product launches”can we read? Le Figaro. After all, everyone can reinvent themselves in the metaverse.
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