NFT Season: Why the Sandbox Could Become the Biggest Metaverse
Gaming is one of the most popular pastimes and NFTs are some of the fastest-growing alternative assets. Here's how the Sandbox brings them together.
Updated Jun 21, 2022
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Cryptocurrency may seem like a vast billion-dollar industry, but it pales in comparison to the gaming industry valued at hundreds of billions. Gaming and crypto are at a crossroads called GameFi where virtual economies are being built using blockchain technology. GameFi is a huge part of the budding metaverse industry. Virtual land and other NFTs are getting sky-high valuations and projects are gaining financial support from some of the biggest gaming, blockchain, and finance firms.
What sets the Sandbox apart isn't just its art style, but also the fact that the game is more technically polished and has a dedicated desktop client for both PC and macOS.
The Sandbox is pioneering one of the most ambitious metaverse projects complete with a robust economy and tools to sustain the ecosystem through user-generated content. An engaged community is a crucial part of building a successful metaverse, and the Sandbox has no shortage of that. The Sandbox is still young in this competitive and rapidly growing space, but here's how it works and why this metaverse has a bright future ahead of it.
What is the Sandbox?
What is the Sandbox?
The Sandbox is a metaverse where you can play and own part of a decentralized voxel-style world. The Sandbox was built on the Ethereum blockchain but later integrated with Polygon to leverage a cheaper more eco-friendly proof of stake network. Players can own and trade in-game NFTs on the official Sandbox marketplace or third-party NFT marketplaces.
Players can own part of the Sandbox metaverse by buying LAND NFTs which are plots of virtual real estate for hosting customizable games, creating experiences, throwing parties, or pretty much anything they want. LAND is extremely scarce with a finite supply of only 166,464 and it can be sold or rented to other players as well as merged with neighboring LANDs to form ESTATEs. Famous Sandbox LAND owners include rapper Snoop Dogg and the Adidas clothing brand.
LANDs per ESTATE
There are also DISTRICTs which are ESTATEs comprising of LAND owned by two or more players. What makes a DISTRICT unique from a LAND or an ESTATE is that it's governed directly by its own DAO. Another special type of real estate is premium LAND which are plots located in desirable neighborhoods and near landmarks with high player traffic. Some premium LAND may come with exclusive collectible Sandbox metaverse NFTs. Other perks of owning land are participating in governance and bonus rewards for SAND staking.
Collectible NFTs in the Sandbox are called ASSETs and they're used as content for in-game activities. While some ASSETs are pre-designed, players can create their own using the free VoxEdit tool. Different types of ASSETs are non-player characters (NPC), wearables, equipment, art, and blocks. ASSETs are used to accessorize avatars, design games, or decorate LAND.
Anything can be designed and added to the Sandbox using VoxEdit. Players can design a variety of ASSET types and use them in the metaverse or sell them as NFTs on the marketplace. Every ASSET has a tier according to its scarcity as well as attributes that determine its in-game utility. The scarcity and attributes of an ASSET are determined by ERC-20 tokens called CATALYSTs and GEMs.
Cosmetic ASSETs like clothing and accessories are known as wearables. These items make your Sandbox avatar look cool, but don't impact your character's performance in the metaverse. You can get wearables by designing them yourself and minting them as NFTs or by buying them from an NFT marketplace.
Equipment ASSETs are like wearables except they're not only cosmetic since they can be used to complete in-game objectives like slaying monsters. Equipment ASSETs offer the most utility to players out of all ASSET types.
Entities are character models that can be either neutral NPCs or in-game enemies that attack you. Entities can look similar to your voxel humanoid avatar or can take the form of animals, monsters, or virtually any creature. Games in the Sandbox come to life through entities that interact with the player and make the metaverse more dynamic and challenging.
ASSETs that are used to decorate LAND and games in the Sandbox are called art. Most art is a 2- or 3-dimensional object that gives visual appeal to environments in the metaverse, but it can also be things that help set the atmosphere like custom audio. Art ASSETs help keep up appearances in the metaverse and to make environments more engaging.
Another ASSET type used mainly for aesthetic purposes is blocks. Blocks are textured Minecraft-esque cubes that make up the bulk of surfaces in the Sandbox like grounds, walls, bodies of water, and more. There are common blocks like mud, sand, and water as well as special ones for more unique worlds. You can even design your own blocks with custom textures and use them to create one-of-a-kind levels in the metaverse.
Sandbox utility tokens
Sandbox utility tokens
In the Sandbox, every ASSET has attributes defined by the number of GEM and CATALYST tokens added to it. First, there are five types of GEMs with each one setting a different attribute. Second, CATALYSTs determine how many copies of an NFT ASSET will be minted—meaning scarcity—as well as the number of GEMs that can be added to it. Lastly, each ASSET has behaviors that determine what they do and how players can interact with them.
GEMs are ERC-20 tokens that determine one of five ASSET attributes: power, speed, defense, magic, and luck. Attributes range from 1 to 100 and each gem can add between 1 and 25 to a specific attribute's value. For instance, if you add a speed GEM to an ASSET then its speed attribute will increase by between 1 and 25. But GEMs also stack, so adding two speed GEMs will increase your speed attribute by higher increments. The utility offered by GEMs is making ASSETs more useful which, in turn, increases their market value.
The scarcity of ASSETs depends on the rarity of the NFT which also determines its value on the market. That's why CATALYSTs are important because they set how many of an ASSET can be minted as well as the number of GEM sockets it has. CATALYSTs come in four tiers ranging from Common, which mints up to 20,000 NFT copies of an ASSET, to Legendary, which can mint up to 200 times. In between those are the Rare and Epic tiers which can be copied up to 4,000 times and 1,500 times, respectively.
The best place to buy the Sandbox NFTs and utility tokens is the Sandbox marketplace. The marketplace is where players and creators list ASSETs to sell for SAND. The marketplace also enables players to make a living in the metaverse by allowing creators sell their NFTs or by enabling players to become virtual real estate agents and flip LAND plots. You can also buy and sell Sandbox NFTs using other cryptocurrencies on Opensea and other NFT marketplaces.
Sandbox Alpha Seasons
Sandbox Alpha Seasons
The Sandbox metaverse hasn't officially launched yet, although VoxEdit, GameMaker, and the marketplace are all live and accessible to everyone. The actual metaverse is still in the early stages of development with some players having gained access during the first two alpha seasons. In March 2022, season 2 was open to all players where they had accessed a small area of the Sandbox map and could complete challenges to earn raffle tickets to win an S2 Alpha Pass NFT. The Alpha Pass allows holders to claim SAND tokens earned passively for just holding the NFT.
The Sandbox rewards SAND holders for depositing their tokens into Quickswap liquidity pools. This means that when you stake SAND you're earning SAND for providing liquidity to a DEX, but you can also earn bonus rewards if you own LAND. LAND owners who stake SAND can multiply their SAND yield while also earning utility tokens. This yield farming strategy is great for earning passive crypto on metaverse assets while the game is still in development.
Future of the Metaverse:
Sci-fi utopia? Or just a lot of hype?
SAND holders will be able to vote on proposals to change the Sandbox ecosystem or delegate their voting power to another SAND holder who can vote on their behalf. The Sandbox Foundation currently manages the metaverse's Creators Fund and Game Makers Fund which support game development and content production. Since formal on-chain governance of the Sandbox hasn't launched, it may take time until the Sandbox Foundation fully opens its decentralized community-owned metaverse to the public.
The GameMaker is The Sandbox's free design tool that makes it easy for anyone to create playable games. You can browse the GameMaker gallery to view the level designs other players created. GameMaker makes the Sandbox collaborative because it allows players to create and share levels with each other, but LAND is required to actually publish games to the metaverse.
Outlook on the Sandbox
Outlook on the Sandbox
Looking at everything it has to offer, there's no wondering why Sandbox has taken a leading role in shaping the metaverse. Sandbox is one of the most promising GameFi projects because it's built on a solid foundation of blockchain infrastructure combined with tools and mechanics for generating endless entertainment. Its success is illustrated by SAND's decent performance in the metaverse tokens market and by the support it gets from investors and brands. One of the disadvantages of the Sandbox compared to its biggest rival Decentraland is not having the first-mover advantage.
Sandbox vs Decentraland
The Sandbox and Decentraland work very similarly: they use the same scaling solution and have strong support from a mix of institutions and individuals. But, Decentraland has already successfully launched with fully functional games, events, and governance while Sandbox hasn't even reached beta testing.
What sets the Sandbox apart isn't just its art style, but also the fact that the game is more technically polished and has a dedicated desktop client for both PC and macOS. However, the game runs so smoothly partly because of the help of centralized servers, which means it isn't a completely decentralized metaverse. It's hard to know which project will come out on top as the Sandbox metaverse is neck and neck with its top competitor in terms of popularity and value.