On the 28th of October, Facebook Inc. announced its official rebranding to Meta Platforms Inc. This was accompanied by the plans of a Metaverse – a digital reality, combining aspects from the likes of augmented and virtual reality, along with areas of social media and gaming to allow users to interact virtually (similar to the world portrayed in the movie Ready Player One). Meta’s announcement of this new project is fitting to the existing developments made by them in recent years such as the acquisition of the Virtual Reality company Oculus VR Inc. in 2014. This builds on its other developments such as Facebook live streaming and gaming whilst being a social media giant, with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Despite this, Meta hasn’t been the only company developing towards a Metaverse, with many Cryptocurrencies and Web 3.0 firms working on a Metaverse; Axie Infinity, Decentraland, the Sandbox and more have all been developing the early stages of the Metaverse through Web 3.0 and NFTs alike.
NFTs are ultimately the main driver of the Metaverse. With NFTs, your digital asset is secured on the blockchain and cannot be duplicated or hacked, which is a key component to the early stages of development for the Metaverse. NFTs allow for the creation of digital assets, be that in-game items like clothing for your avatar, digital artwork, or in the case of the Sandbox: digital real estate.
The Sandbox, a Hong-Kong based platform, is a virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain. Users can build both their own NFTs and gaming experiences in the Sandbox and monetize them too using the Sandbox marketplace. Along with the marketplace, the Sandbox has two other components: VOXEDIT, which is a 3D voxel art animation software, which allows users to design and create NFTs (to sell on the marketplace), and the GAME MAKER tool, allowing users to create their own gaming experiences. These experiences can be monetized through the Sandbox’s digital real estate. Users build the experiences on a plot of land in the Sandbox Metaverse (which they buy either on Sandbox or secondary markets with the utility token $SAND) and can monetize through numerous forms such as live events, auctions, and gaming. Moreover, from the 29th of November 2021, the Sandbox will enter its Alpha stage (which will be available to everyone), which will kickstart the metaverse, allowing the visitation to these virtual worlds and utilization of the play-to-earn system (where users can earn both $SAND and NFTs by simply playing games).
The $SAND token with the utility behind it and the Meta announcement has recently rallied significantly in line with these developments. Since the 28th of October 2021, $SAND has hit an all-time high of 8.48 USD on the 25th of November 2021, an 800% increase since the announcement. This valuation would mean they would be worth more than video game studios such as Capcom, Ubisoft, and CD Projekt, which are all huge names in the gaming market. Moreover, Adidas AG has recently teased a partnership, with them purchasing a plot of land on the Sandbox .This demonstrates that the digital real estate market is attracting more than just Crypto speculators but also more institutional players are potentially eyeing the land.
However, the play-to-earn system has recently been under scrutiny, especially from the Executive Vice-President of Gaming for Microsoft, Phil Spencer. Spencer claimed that NFT games feel “more exploitative than entertainment”. Additionally, Valve Corporation recently announced that it will not list any NFT games on its marketplace though competitor Epic Games Inc. Are welcoming them.
Despite the potential negative opinion from the gaming industry, play-to-earn platforms and the Metaverse are here to stay for now. The Sandbox alpha will likely provide an early insight into the Metaverse and its future potential, which will only attract more buyers to this early market. Therefore, with the continual development of the Metaverse, it will likely prove positive for the Sandbox, especially with more news from Meta and any other companies which wish to step forward into this emerging industry.
By: Samuel Buchan
Sector Head: Sophia Li