What is The Sandbox: entering the video game metaverse
March 22, 2023
The Sandbox crypto (SAND) is at the heart of a metaverse in which users can create, play and monetise their own content: let’s find out what The Sandbox metaverse is and how it works, a three-dimensional blockchain-based virtual world in which objects and lands are NFTs.
What is The Sandbox?
Sebastien Borget‘s metaverse was born in 2012 as a 2D virtual world where you could create and share gaming experiences. This first version, however, was a simple mobile application: to really understand what The Sandbox crypto is and how it works, we have to wait until 2018, when the project is integrated with the blockchain.
The Sandbox metaverse is now based on Ethereum and Polygon, it has a utility token (SAND) and NFTs are the bricks of this world. Specifically, through the metaverse’s cryptocurrencies, it is possible to reward content creators and anyone who wants to try out a new kind of entertainment. To support this, the platform already provides the tools to create gaming experiences, suitable even for those who have never designed in 3D!
It is precisely this possibility that explains ‘what is The Sandbox’: the name itself derives from the ‘creative’ mode typical of some video games, which do not give players objectives to achieve, but allow them to build freely in the virtual environment. In fact, the sandbox in the real world is the ‘sandpit’ where children can unleash their imagination. Examples of open worlds that have adopted this formula are SimCity, Second Life and Minecraft: from the latter, the Sandbox metaverse takes up the block design, minimalist but easy to ‘handle’.
This cube graphics is called Voxel Art and allows the construction of extremely complex elements, without the need for advanced skills, by combining three-dimensional units called voxels. These pixel-like ‘bricks’ are similar to the atoms that make up the universe (or rather, the Metaverse): their connections open up infinite possibilities!
Going back to explaining how The Sandbox game works, there are three graphical tools available to users:
- VoxEdit: an intuitive dashboard for designing 3D game objects in the form of NFTs (called ASSETS),
- Game Maker: software to create your own video game and its functionality, designed for those who do not know programming languages.
- Avatar: the tool for composing your own character, an NFT with its accessories, also non-fungible.
How to earn in The Sandbox?
The metaverse is the environment where you can publish the elements you have built, be they entire games or simple objects, so that anyone can play them. If you understand what The Sandbox crypto is, however, you get that it is also possible to monetise your efforts and fun: in practice, crypto tokens allow players and programmers to earn money.
Let’s explore the concept of play-to-earn, explaining how to earn in the Sandbox. Let’s talk in practice about tokenomics, the internal economy of the project: SAND is the utility token of the ecosystem, the maximum availability is 3 billion units. It has a value independent of the dynamics of the game, but is subject to market fluctuations, mirroring its use cases. As anticipated, it is possible to earn this ERC-20 token simply by playing on Sandbox. Alternatively, it is possible to buy SAND on exchanges such as Young Platform, so as to use it to purchase goods and services from the game’s marketplace. Half of every transaction in the Sandbox metaverse, however, is transferred to the Foundation Fund and the remainder to the staking pool. The former finances the development of new projects, the latter distributes rewards to those who block SAND in stakes. Finally, it is possible to hold the token to participate in the governance of the project, so as to vote on certain decisions for its development.
In fact, the initial The Sandbox Foundation has morphed into a DAO: a decentralised autonomous organisation, composed of SAND holders, which collectively decides what Sandbox is and how it works. However, LAND holders also have a say: essentially, the virtual spaces represented by NFTs where you can build your own applications. It is easy to see them as plots of land, whose ownership is administered by the certificate of the corresponding non-fungible token, contained in a smart contract. The standard in this case is ERC-721, but ERC-1155 and ERC-721x will also be implemented.
The Sandbox metaverse has a limited number of LANDS, but they differ in size. In fact, in total there are only 166,464 virtual lands, each 96×96 by 128 metres in height. Consider that 1 metre in The Sandbox metaverse corresponds to 32x32x32 voxels. LANDs are offered for sale for specific periods but always in limited numbers, otherwise they can be purchased in secondary NFT markets. Is it worth buying land in the Metaverse? The price may vary and is mainly related to the scarcity of LAND, however some will never be distributed to the public because they are reserved for specific Partners or the Foundation.
In The Sandbox, the union of several LANDs creates properties called ESTATEs:
- Small: 3×3
- Medium: 6×6
- Large: 12×12
- Extra large: 24×24
Several ESTATES, when placed side by side, constitute a DISTRICT: areas of The Sandbox map controlled by a single individual, company or DAO, where you can host any kind of experience. Concerts and fashion shows, as well as gaming, are among the five things you can do in the metaverse, either free of charge or conditional on payment of a ticket. As in the real world, several brands have bought LANDs to open their stores (such as Adidas, Warner Music and Ubisoft) and organise events, but also celebrities such as Snopp Dogg have avatars and villas in the Sandbox metaverse. Finally, LANDs can also be staked, to multiply the rewards generated by SAND tokens, sold or even ‘rented‘.
GEMs and CATALYSTs, on the other hand, are the components that have redefined what The Sandbox crypto is and how it works. They are the last ERC-20 tokens to be introduced in the metaverse, generated by the staking of SANDs in LANDs, and are used to add attributes to ASSETS. In simple terms, they are enhancements for in-game items: there are 5 types of GEMs (power, defence, speed, magic and luck) and to “embed” them in NFTs you need CATALYSTs, which come in 4 levels of rarity (common, rare, epic and legendary). In this regard, anything can be mined as NFTs (ERC-1155), be it accessories for your avatar, plants or buildings.
All non-fungible tokens, in general, can be sold in the marketplace integrated in The Sandbox, or in secondary markets such as OpenSea.
How to play The Sandbox
Those wondering how to enter the metaverse might picture VR visors and haptic suits, but accessing The Sandbox is much simpler. It is a platform on the Internet, all you have to do is register on the official website and create your avatar, then you are ready to play. In case you want to buy or sell NFTs, however, you will need to link a wallet like Metamask to your profile.
At specific times of the year, there are also events that revolutionise how to play The Sandbox: the Alpha Seasons. The third season, between August and November 2022, allowed everyone to earn SAND by participating in more than 27 different experiences, all with free access! In fact, it was no longer necessary to have an Alpha Pass to play, the NFT ticket (limited to 10,000 pieces) put on sale during the first season. Alpha Season 4 is expected to introduce concerts in the Sandbox metaverse, thanks to a collaboration with Warner Music.
SAND is just one of the many cryptocurrencies in the metaverse, so to delve deeper into what The Sandbox crypto is, you could look at the differences with Decentraland, the social metaverse, or with Axie Infinity, the Axolotl-inspired monster house.