Do you know what happens when you combine video games with the freedom for players to leverage their creativity?
The answer: awesome community-created virtual worlds where players can create and enjoy unique video gaming experiences.
Minecraft is an excellent example of the above, which inspired the sandbox game’s 126 million active gamers to build amazing things, such as the worlds of the Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth and Game of Thrones’ Westeros.
Furthermore, modding, in which players make changes and tweaks to the original video game, has been used to enhance the gaming experience of many users and even kept older (otherwise abandoned) games alive and thriving.
That said, while gamers have already proved their limitless creativity, they often face serious limitations with traditional gaming solutions.
Even though they can create amazing things in games, they can’t own, sell, or transfer them into other video games.
For that reason, unless they collect donations for their projects, creators can’t get rewarded for the hard work they put into building user-generated content.
Instead, the publisher has full control over all in-game assets – including both developer- and user-generated content – while having the ability to ban players and revoke their access to the items they created or owned.
The Sandbox, an exciting sandbox-themed blockchain gaming project, aims to solve this issue with a decentralized, NFT-powered platform for gamers, which we will introduce in this article.
Let’s dive in!
What Is the Sandbox?
The Sandbox is a blockchain-based gaming platform featuring a virtual world in which players can build, own, and monetize their experiences.
Running on the Ethereum blockchain, the Sandbox includes a metaverse where players are free to create their own virtual worlds, leveraging their creativity and imagination to customize them as they like while collaborating with others.
Interestingly, the team behind the project has already launched the non-blockchain version of the game (also titled “the Sandbox”) in 2012, which has been downloaded over 40 million times while featuring an active user base of one million players.
In the simplest terms, imagine a sandbox, voxel graphics game like Minecraft where you can create your own server, join others’, and unleash your creativity to build and interact with in-game elements while playing.
However, unlike traditional gaming solutions, the Sandbox allows you to own everything you create in your games.
To achieve that, every in-game asset on Sandbox is automatically converted into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique, rare, and irreplaceable digital assets on the blockchain, allowing users to easily verify authenticity and ownership.
For example, you can design and create a unique horse and place it into your virtual world to use it as a mount. In addition to owning it, you can set pre-defined behaviors and stats for your horse (e.g., how fast it can run) in the Sandbox.
As your horse “lives” in the Sandbox ecosystem as an NFT, you can export it to the marketplace, define its rarity and tier, and sell it to others in exchange for the project’s native SAND token.
Moreover, if other players are okay with it, you can move your horse and use it in other interconnected virtual worlds in the Sandbox.
And you can do all the above with other in-game assets as well (e.g., create more horses, build a stable for them, and also a ranch) to construct your world or help others make theirs.
How Does the Sandbox Work?
Now that you know the basics about the Sandbox, let’s dive deeper into how the blockchain gaming platform works in reality.
To understand that, we should take a look at the core elements that shape the game’s ecosystem.
As its name suggests, LAND represents digital real estate in the Sandbox metaverse in the form of a non-fungible ERC-721 token on Ethereum.
The Sandbox has a map where you can find all the LAND, which the project’s team gradually sells to users for SAND.
Once you purchase a LAND for yourself, you have complete ownership and control over everything on it.
For that reason, you are free to design and run your own game with nuanced gameplay mechanics on your LAND, which you can populate with in-game assets.
Optionally, you can invite other players to help “cultivate” your LAND or rent it to game creators to make a profit.
In other terms, a LAND represents a server where the owner can decide on the game to run, the gameplay mechanics to implement, the assets to use, and whether players can join (and whether they have to buy the game or play it for free).
The Sandbox metaverse consists of 166,464 pieces of LANDs, which can be pieced together to form ESTATES.
In the future, the blockchain game’s developers will roll out DISTRICTS as well, which represent ESTATES owned by multiple players.
ASSETs are ERC-1155 tokens created by users, which they can use to populate their LANDs.
After creating their ASSETs, players own them, and they are free to customize, use them in their games, move to other worlds, or trade with users on the platform.
Since they can purchase ASSETs on the marketplace, players don’t necessarily have to create their own in-game items to play the Sandbox.
Catalysts are ERC-20 tokens that are burnt on usage, which you can utilize to define your ASSET’s tier and scarcity.
By adding a catalyst to an item, the NFT will get an empty socket, which can be filled with a gem (more on this later).
The better your catalyst, the more sockets the ASSET will have. For that reason, you can put inside more gems.
In other words, the most powerful ASSETs in the Sandbox metaverse are the items with the highest tiers and the lowest scarcity.
According to the creators, the only way to obtain catalysts is by staking the Sandbox’s SAND token.
Like catalysts, gems are also burn-on-usage ERC-20 tokens that players can use to customize their ASSETs.
You place your gems into an ASSET’s sockets to define their attributes and their main stats (e.g., 25 points of power and 50 points of magic).
For that reason, how useful your item is depends on the gems you have filled it with.
Like catalysts, you can earn gems by staking SAND.
An avatar is an in-game voxel representation of a player, which can be customized to fit individual preferences.
In addition to some standard specifications, format, and set of animations, players can use ASSETs to equip their avatars with clothes, armor, weapons, and other in-game items.
What Is SAND and How Did it Perform in Terms of Price?
Based on Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard, SAND is the native token of the Sandbox platform.
Like the elements we introduced in the previous section, SAND plays a critical role in the blockchain game’s ecosystem.
SAND fulfills the following use-cases on the platform:
- Access: Unless creators offer their games for free, players have to use SAND to purchase them and gain access to virtual worlds in the metaverse.
- Medium of exchange: Creators, players, and artists use SAND to purchase and rent LANDs as well as buy and sell ASSETS on the marketplace.
- Staking: SAND can be staked to generate a passive income with the option to gain additional rewards by owning LAND. As mentioned earlier, it’s the only way to get catalysts and gems to create valuable ASSETs.
- Governance: SAND also functions as a governance token, meaning that holders can use their coins to either vote themselves or delegate voting rights to other players to decide on important matters concerning the Sandbox ecosystem. According to the creators, the Sandbox will function as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in the future, in which users will be responsible for developing and maintaining the project.
- Foundation: The Foundation is a pool in the Sandbox ecosystem where 50% of the transaction fees (5% in total, the other 50% goes to the staking pool) are automatically allocated. The primary role of the Foundation is to provide grants to creators and artists to fill the blockchain game’s metaverse with high-quality content and games.
Now let’s explore how SAND’s price changed since the project’s launch.
After closing a successful Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) in August 2020 with $3 million of contributions, SAND’s price remained relatively stable until this year’s start.
However, since January 1, 2021, SAND entered into a bull run with its price surging from $0.037 to $0.48, representing a year-to-date (YTD) ROI of nearly 1,200%.
O verall, the blockchain gaming project’s native cryptocurrency features an all-time ROI of 648%, which is a great performance, especially if we take into account that SAND achieved such high returns in less than a year on the market.
What Solutions Does the Sandbox Offer to Players and Developers?
Currently, the Sandbox features three core solutions, which include:
- VoxEdit: A free 3D voxel modeling package that allows users to design and create ASSETs easily and export them into either the marketplace to sell for a profit or to the Game Maker to use in the game itself.
- Marketplace: A web-based marketplace (currently in beta) where users can upload, publish, and trade ASSETs as ERC-721 or ERC-1155 tokens.
- Game Maker: Available for Windows in alpha release and soon to be launched on Mac as well, the Game Maker is the software used to play the game. You can either join others’ games or design your own worlds by placing and using your ASSETs within a piece of LAND. The Game Maker is also used to customize LAND, create custom games, and modify the gameplay mechanics.
SAND: a Decentralized, Play to Earn Minecraft on Steroids
With unique concepts, blockchain integration, and the freedom to create anything, the Sandbox allows players and developers to unleash their creativity to build and populate virtual worlds while featuring real ownership over their in-game assets.
While the project’s core features are still under development, users have already been able to test the Sandbox thanks to the alpha release of the Game Maker and the recent launch of the NFT marketplace’s beta.
Since its launch, the Sandbox has attracted high-profile investors like the video game developer Square Enix while striking partnerships with companies such as ATARI, Care Bears, CryptoKitties, and Shaun the Sheep.
For that reason, players can enjoy a fairer video gaming experience, especially when compared to a controversial model like Pay to Win, in which gamers can gain an advantage over others by buying items from the official marketplaces of publishers.