“People don’t go to the metaverse to shop, they go first to socialize”

Leading Web3, Frenchman The Sandox has been able to make its place among the world leaders in metaverses. Its co-founder revealed his vision of these universes whose challenge today is to please the public.

JDN. How has The Sandbox grown since its last $ 93 million Serie B fundraiser in October 2021?

Sébastien Borget is the co-founder and COO of the decentralized metaverse The Sandbox. © Cyril Bruneau – The Sandbox

Sebastien Borget. We launched our first Alpha Season in December last year, which can be played for a month. Nearly 2 million users have created an account for about 100,000 active players. In March 2022, we launched Alpha Season 2 which includes 35 experiences created by brands as well as the community. Players were amazed to see the rebuilding of Snoop Dogg’s mansion or the Hong Kong harbor. These experiences bring in nearly 350,000 active players in a month. At the end of June, we counted more than 21,500 virtual landowners, thus establishing The Sandbox as the decentralized virtual world with the largest distribution in terms of foreclosure. -iya. In total, nearly 3 million users have created their avatar and have a wallet.

How does Sandbox differ from other metaverseas like Decentraland, Roblox, Horizon World (Meta), and others?

Sandbox is a decentralized 3D universe where users have everything they want. Thanks to NFT, they have complete freedom to dispose of their digital assets as they see fit. Thus they can exchange or sell NFTs made by The Sandbox, even avatars, equipment, land, etc., in other markets. This is the whole interoperability advantage that we emphasize. Conversely, it is also possible to import NFTs made elsewhere and play with them in The Sandbox, for example by converting collections of 2D images into animated 3D characters. Our vision is that digital identity should not remain on one platform. Finally, another difference is that 95% of the revenue earned is returned to users. Our currency, SAND, is traded for free on over 100 exchanges around the world.

The metaverse has been on everyone’s lips since Zuckerberg announced in October 2021 to put Meta on this concept, but is it a real breakthrough in technology?

I really believe in it. Sandbox has tried to show that it is possible to offer users more video games or a social hub. The difference is in my eyes at the level of the interior, the experiences on offer but also the people it is possible to meet. At The Sandbox, for example, it is possible to attend virtual concerts, tour art galleries, visit museums, and more. The metaverse should be based on imagination and creativity. You need to focus on the user experience rather than trying to create a transactional or commercial relationship. People don’t come to shop in the metaverse, they prioritize to socialize and receive value from the creators and brands that exist in these 3D universes.

“The purpose is not to find to sell more new content but to increase exchanges and increase the value of existing content”

What are the main sources of Sandbox revenue?

The sale of land is our main source of income. We have already sold almost 70% of the land available. We also collect 5% commission on all NFT trades. This premium content is available to the creators but also to the brands we support when they come to The Sandbox. This model is interesting because it means that the success of The Sandbox will depend above all on the ability of the creators to create original collections and experiences to attract more users. The purpose is not to find to sell more new content, as is the case with other traditional video game platforms, but to increase exchanges and increase the value of existing content. It involves creating a utility around these NFTs so that users can see the interest in storing them, for example by giving them access to concerts, exclusive events, and so on.

So you don’t believe in the Meta advertising model?

Meta is a company that has become a champion in collecting data against the will of users to indirectly sell it to advertisers. Its product is free to use because users are the monetized product. Often, when trying to show multiple ads to users, the experience is likely to be poorer. That’s not what we want in The Sandbox, and that’s why our metaverse design is different. It’s too early to know what the metaverse can do. In five or ten years, The Sandbox will definitely take a different shape than it does now, but our goal of allowing everyone to let their imagination run wild and live from it will not change.

What experiences did the brands offer that impressed you the most and what was your advice for their destination?

Among the 300 companies with a presence in The Sandbox, we often quote Carrefour, HSBC, or even Axa. But really, we have a lot of brands operating in the entertainment business. I could say, for example, music artists, video game studios, fashion brands like Adidas or Gucci, film studios like Lionsgate or even some licensors like The Walking Dead. In the end, all industries have to end up in the metaverse. We are still in the experimental stage to find the recipe that will make users want to spend more time in the metaverse. Companies and creators can now use our no-code tool to offer new experience formats.

During this time, the Second Life also raised many expectations. What mistakes do you think have been made and why do 3D universes now have a better chance of succeeding?

Sandbox didn’t invent anything. In fact, all the ingredients are already there. I think the main problem with virtual worlds like Second Life is that they aren’t designed to keep users coming back. In fact, they are thought of as more promotional and transaction areas where it is difficult to find other players. The experience there was a bit boring. Reproducing the same as what is in the real world is of no interest to users. At The Sandbox, we rely on creativity and imagination to create new entertainment formats. It works because users go back from one Alpha Season to another. After 30 days, nearly 60% of users are still engaged.

What else does the sector lack to attract the general public?

The problem is that often the work of creators gets stuck on one platform. Creators who invest a lot of time on one platform don’t want to start from scratch on another. It’s a distorted psychological effect and a real mess. Web3 should, thanks to the blockchain, give these digital properties to other devices and allow them to be freely exchanged. If I buy a pair of shoes or something in the real world, I can throw it away as I like. It should be the same as Web3. This is why I think that in the long term, the virtual economy should outperform the real world.

Have you talked to other players to facilitate this interoperability Exchange?

Each actor is free to choose his approach. My belief is that once users understand that they have the freedom to freely trade and sell their digital assets without being stuck on one platform, there is no going back to a completely centralized world. We do not intend to merge or collaborate on platforms that are not interested in these technologies. Our vision is not in a centralized world where platforms set rules and where the user has nothing to say.

Sébastien Borget is the co-founder and COO of the decentralized metaverse The Sandbox, a virtual world where players can create, play, own, manage and monetize their experiences using NFTs & SAND, the main utility token on the platform. He also became Chairman of the Blockchain Game Alliance in 2020, a non-profit organization with 300 industry members. Prior to co-founder of mobile game publisher Pixowl, he worked at Ipercast and Wixi.com. He graduated from Telecom SudParis.

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