If gaming and the blockchain forged an alliance...
Welcome to the second issue of 2 cents on a coin!
Today, my 2 cents are on The Sandbox (SAND), the gaming platform that aims to introduce blockchain technology into mainstream gaming successfully.
Eat, sleep, work and play.
If humans had a creed, that’d be it. In fact, one may argue that we bother with the first three so that we can fully enjoy the fourth. Entertainment is a delicious escape, an alternate reality we create, replete with its own rules and rewards, that draws us away from the mundane and familiar aspects of our lives. From film to music to sports, we’ve found ways to have fun as long as we’ve been here. With time, we have become more dynamic - affording of not only physical entertainment but now digital ones, with the advent of computers and the internet. Of the various forms of digital entertainment, none is as immersive and electrifying as gaming.
Digital games a.k.a Video games began in the 1950s and 1960s as computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations on mainframe computers.1 The sophistication and realism of video games have only improved in sync with computing & graphics technology. Today, the gaming industry is bigger than both the movie and music industries combined and is the fastest-growing segment of digital entertainment.
At the centre of the growth in the gaming industry are companies like Minecraft and Roblox, two of the leading gaming institutions in the world. Roblox does not offer only one or even a few games but a marketplace with millions of games to play. Three attributes have made these gaming platforms successful:
Choice: Roblox has over 40 million games & Minecraft allows an infinitely large game world to be explored, a world that evolves as it’s played and is completely dependent on the player’s actions. Both achieve this by creating a framework that allows anyone to create their own game/experience on the platform. 9.5 million developers have created games that are largely free to play on Roblox.
Accessibility: Think of accessibility in terms of cost and reach. i.e do you have to pay to play and can you easily find the channels to interact with the gaming platform? In this respect, both Minecraft and Roblox (and a host of other successful platforms) have gotten it right. Anyone can access Roblox on android & ios mobile phones & desktops. More importantly, you don’t have to pay a dime to play multiple games (unless interested in unlocking additional features).
Community: Roblox offers a massive community of people to interact and play games with. With over 42 million daily active users as of March 2021, it’s one of the biggest communities online. In light of the recent pandemic, this ability to easily make friends has been a driving force in Roblox’s growing popularity.2 This year, Roblox reached 202 million monthly active users and Minecraft, 126 million. Cracking Choice & Accessibility has helped platforms like Roblox & Minecraft pull millions of users - developers & players and create strong communities around the games.
Amazing right? Yes. But where does the blockchain come in?
If you were to build a new Roblox and then allow your users to not only create unique features like they can on existing Roblox but also transfer them out of your gaming platform and sell them on the open market on places like Opensea, then you’d have created a blockchain-based game - at least in the current application of the term (many other aspects of the game remain centralised).
The main draw of metaverses (digital environments including gaming platforms) on the blockchain is how players can play, build, and own properties and in-game assets. More importantly, they can sell those assets for real-world money.3
Does that automatically make your gaming platform better than Roblox, Minecraft, and all the other non-blockchain-based games? No, but offering the ability to fully own and transfer created assets (NFTs) is icing on the cake. You’d still have to ensure your game is accessible, offers good choice compared to existing games, and fosters a strong community of fans.
Enter The Sandbox, the gaming platform with a vision to disrupt the existing game makers like Minecraft and Roblox by providing creators true ownership of their creations as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and rewarding their participation with the utility token – SAND.4 So far, the block-chain based game has got off to a good start. Although there are not many live games and environments which have been created in The Sandbox yet, Its monthly active users have reached 30,000, a long way from gaming giants, Roblox & Minecraft but still impressive. In November the company raised $93m from Softbank.
SAND’s marketplace performance
1. 3-month price trend: Of the top 30 coins in CoinMarketCap’s Metaverse category, The Sandbox ranks #8 by the 90-day price change. It has grown almost 7x since September 2021. It’s also the fifth most tradable token in its category with 137 market pairs.
2. Volume: At the time this data was pulled on 21.12.2021, SAND had the second-highest volume in trades, after Decentraland - close to $800 million in transactions within 24 hours. This speaks to the level of interest in the coin and its liquidity.
3. Unique value proposition: Apart from offering ownership & transferability of created assets, technically there’s not much extra that this gaming platform offers compared to others. Where they may win is through exciting partnerships, tapping into the buzz and frenzy around the Metaverse (a digital environment) for example, with celebrities. This may grow awareness and pull a community of fans into the gaming environment. On Dec 1, The Sandbox announced a partnership with American rapper, Snoop Dogg, who is now selling parcels of his digital real estate in The Sandbox and plans to host a virtual party in there.
A block of land adjacent to Snoop Dogg’s in The SandBox is currently going for 250 ETH:
1. The Sandbox platform currently has limited accessibility. There is no mobile version and it can only be accessed on a Windows PC. The company aims to make its platform accessible to mobile users by the end of 2022.
2. Choice is also limited: At the moment, not many games are available on The Sandbox.
I think the SAND token could grow even faster in the next 12 months if:
1. The Sandbox delivers on its current roadmap: launches mobile and iOS versions of the game which will improve the game’s accessibility.
2. Grows the number and variety of games on the platform. The platform needs more creators to build thousands if not millions of games.
3. It capitalises on the talent and experience of key staff. One of the strong suits of this company is the CEO and leadership team- Arthur Madrid, Sébastien Borget, Marcelo Santurio. All have a strong background in the gaming industry and already built successful “off-chain” games including The Sandbox (the non-blockchain based eponymous game from which the current block-chain enabled version is a spin-off) which reached 40 million downloads and over 1 million monthly active users
Would you invest 2 cents in SAND, yes or no, and why?
Please leave a comment below.