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Sandbox, Decentraland… What are the main metaverses?

Since the end of October 2021, very strong attention has been focused on the metaverse that Facebook / Meta is preparing. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook gives us a glimpse of a fabulous future in a kind of immersive parallel world. Yet he did not land on virgin territory. Several universes that can be designated as metaverses had been active for several years and growing rapidly.

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The three main metaverses are called Decentraland, The Sandbox and Roblox. What is striking is the scale to which some of these projects have developed. Both The Sandbox and Decentraland have been taken over by creatives and forward-thinking companies who quickly saw its potential. These ecosystems rapidly expanded.

It turns out that, if the lure of theuniverse of the cryptocurrencies and NFTs is strong, that of video games is even more so. According Global Games Market Reportthere were around 2.7 billion gamers at the end of 2020. And Statista notes that out of the only American territoryplayers on mobile spend an average of $61 per year. As for those who play on console, they are ready to pay 84 dollars a year for additional content. So clearly, there exists, in the crossing of the universe of the game and that of cryptocurrencies / NFTs, huge potential. Thus, in a metaversein parallel with the playful aspects, the assets can be sold or exchanged and this aspect seems to appeal to many publishers, even though many players do not perceive this development favorably.

Decentraland

Decentraland is a virtual world that belongs to its users. It was created in 2015 by Argentinians Ariel Meilich and Esteban Ordano. Introduced to crypto investors in 2017 through an ICO, it was opened to the general public in February 2020 and quickly gained its stripes.

In a way, the users of Decentraland find there the opportunity to build a land of utopia, governed as they see fit and whose limits are difficult to perceive. Everyone can organize the plot they own as they wish, whether they want to create a pleasure garden, an attraction, a museum…

Two currencies for the same universe

Decentraland relies on two types of tokens:

  • Mana is used to purchase items, for example to customize your avatar by adorning it with accessories such as earrings, a necklace, a hat, vision glasses nocturne… Those who have crypto Mana also have a right to vote thanks to which they can propose changes to the game. If the community votes in the majority for their proposal, the game will evolve in the desired direction.
  • The Land which serves to the purchase of plots of 16 meters x 16 meters with a height of 20 meters, or even sets of plots. There are 90,601 parcels in total. Once you have bought one, you can build whatever you want on it and decorate it as you wish.

These two currencies are based on Ethereum.

Decentraland experienced such a take-off that Sotheby’s wanted to open a virtual gallery there. A real estate agency, Metaverse Groupe, made headlines by acquiring 116 plots. In November 2021, tokens.com purchased land for the equivalent of $2 million. For their part, Deadman Mou5 and Paris Hilton participated in a music festival at the end of October 2021.

We also find in Decentraland districts (neighbourhoods) which group together activities of the same nature:

  • them games of chance like roulette or poker in the neighborhood Vegas ;
  • Chinatown (Dragon City);
  • the Fashion Street for fashion aficionados;
  • university with schools;
  • business (Crypto Valley) ;
  • etc.

As in real life, some neighborhoods are more popular than others. This is the case of Fashion Street, the fashion district, in which a Fashion Week was organized in March 2022. Among the brands present in this district are Dolce&Gabbana, Elie Saab, Monnier Frères, Franck Muller… The most expensive place in Decentraland is the Genesis Plaza — a plot there can be worth millions of dollars .

The Sandbox

The Sandbox is a particularly rich 3D world in terms of scenery and which surprises from the start with its extremely lively character. We pilot an avatar and can explore a shared world that offers myriad of possibilities. What’s more, it is constantly evolving.

A map gives access to the various territories of The Sandbox and what is immediately striking is the presence of the red Atari logo which has reserved several lots including one of size. The other is that of rapper Snoop Dog, whose home is one of the places of choice for visitors. On this card, when a square is green, it means that it is possible to make an offer to buy it. Once in the game, you can also buy some works exhibited: paintings, sculptures, vehicles, etc.

In reality, The Sandbox is the evolution of a fairly old project, since The Sandbox Evolution game was originally released on iOS in May 2012. It was created by two French developers, Sébastien Borget and Arthur Madrid, at the head of the Voxelw studio. The game then offered to create a virtual space, a bit like in Minecraft, and to make it evolve, from a very pleasant interface. The Sandbox Evolution received Apple’s Game of the Year award. In 2013 it was released on Android. Even today, these mobile versions have around 40 million users.

In 2017, on the occasion of the cryptocurrency boom, Borget and Madrid saw the opportunity there would be to integrate such an aspect into the game, and then to be able to transform the elements of the universe into NFTs. let’s remember that NFTs establish ownership of a workits authenticity and value via scarcity. A cryptocurrency has been created for this new game: Sand.

In The Sandbox Game, all of the content is generated by its users: buildings, characters, experiences… Two easy-to-use tools are available to creatives: VoxEdit, which allows you to define your avatar or NFTs, and the Game Maker that allows you to create experiences.

  • territories (lands) are based on the ERC-721 standard which defines NFTs;
  • games and assets are based on the more advanced ERC-1155 NFTs standard.

Quite quickly, The Sandbox seduced a community of gamers interested in this marriage of a gaming platform with NFTs.

In August 2018, Voxelw was acquired by a Hong Kong gaming giant, Animoca Brands, which gave strength to The Sandbox project. From there, partnerships could be established with brands such as Atari, the Smurfs or Cryptokitties. Little by little, personalities or major brands have wished to acquire land. Among them, the Winklevoss brothers, famous for having been present at the beginning of Facebook – as the movie traced The Social Networkthe platform Binancethe crypto reference site Coinmarketcap…

Roblox

Roblox is a platform that offers hundreds of thousands of different games – it’s basically an online game creation system. And as the game appeared in 2006, there are now a very large number of entertainments accessible to newcomers: opening a pizzeria, escaping from a prison, adopting pets, golf… Roblox even claims that it would integrate 40 million different games.

The 2020 lockdown had a huge impact on Roblox’s popularity as it allowed kids to interact and play together – the game had 113 million users at the end of 2019 and it had over 200 million in April 2021. The majority are children and teenagers: 67% of players are under the age of 16 if we are to believe backlinko.com figures. And in the 9-12 age bracket, it is estimated that 3 out of 4 American children would play Roblox.

While most games and game elements (outfits, rare items, etc.) are free, some are chargeable via in-app purchases. The currency used is the Robux, and it is easy to buy from a simple credit card. Thus, during the first half of 2021 alone, still according to backlinko, it was purchased for 1.31 billion dollars from Robux. And Roblox likes to report that active game developers on its platform generated over $328 million in 2020.

Certainly, this ability to spend could represent a risk for a parent who leaves his card available to his offspring and therefore supervision is desirable. There is also a parental control that can be activated and which can help prevent the child from being subjected to inappropriate content. Some claim that the exchanges of objects would have a useful didactic aspect for the child.

To what extent can Roblox be likened to a metaverse? Quite simply because it incorporates so many games and accommodates so many users who indulge in socializing activities. We can thus say that Roblox is the metaverse of the young generation.

Roblox has begun to take initiatives in the direction of the metaverse as conceived by adults, by inviting real-world personalities to participate in its universe. So the DJ David Guetta was invited to give a live performance — in avatar form — in early February 2022 in Roblox. Concerts have also been given by artists such as Ava Max, Why Don’t We, Royal Blood and Twenty One Pilots.

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