A co-founder of The Sandbox explains what on earth is going on in the metaverse — where land is selling for millions and Snoop Dogg is hanging out
- A whole lot of hype has built up around the
metaverse, and Wall Street is getting excited about its money-making potential.
- A piece of land in
The Sandboxsold for $4.3 million, while buyers are rushing to get a plot near Snoop Dogg's virtual mansion.
Noone knows what the metaverse is going to look like. Or even it's really going to become a thing.
The fuzzy term refers to virtual worlds in which people create avatars to play games, work, build things, or watch virtual events. Big beasts such as Facebook want in, but
Either way, there's a lot of hype about it. The Wall Street crowd is getting very excited about its money-making potential.
Nothing has driven that hype more than the huge property transactions that are taking place, with parcels of virtual land changing hands for millions of dollars.
Right at the centre of the virtual land boom is The Sandbox, a blockchain-based decentralized metaverse. A tract of virtual land inside sold for $4.3 million in November, even though it's yet to fully launch.
As the virtual world develops next year, people will be able to build and sell items, play games to earn tokens, trade property, and more.
Sandbox has seen $211 million of land sales
Sebastien Borget co-founded The Sandbox gaming company in 2012, and is now its chief operating officer. He said virtual land sales have exploded in recent months, and that total sales between 2019 and today amount to $211 million.
Crypto enthusiasts, creators and gamers alike have been drawn in. The 'sand' cryptocurrency is up more than 9,000% in the last year.
"So far the reception has been good and we have thousands of users playing simultaneously [in the alpha version]," Borget told Insider earlier this month. Yet he added: "It's still very early on."
Read more: More than $100 million of metaverse land was sold in the last week alone. The co-founder of a virtual real estate company breaks down why the opportunity in digital properties could rise 200x in 16 months.
He envisions it becoming a digital economy with virtual concerts, art galleries, museums, and architectural practices.
Borget has been very excited by the arrival of legendary rapper Snoop Dogg into The Sandbox, with the Doggfather set to perform virtual shows. Someone coughed up $450,000 for a piece of land near Snoop's mansion earlier in December — likely the most expensive land sale by square metre so far.
Crypto tech 'allows user ownership'
Early metaverses such as The Sandbox and Decentraland are rooted in decentralized crypto technology, with transactions denominated in digital tokens.
But why must metaverses be based on crypto technology? Couldn't they just be written using normal computer code?
Borget said blockchain technology is hugely useful for allowing users to own the content they create in The Sandbox, because it lets them mint it onto non-fungible tokens, or
It also allows complex networks to exist without any one entity having overall control. For example, the amount of land in The Sandbox is finite, Borget said, and is governed by a so-called smart contract written onto the blockchain.
"I'm working to grow the decentralized part of the metaverse where we enable users to truly own their identity and be self-sovereign," he said.
Metaverse are drawing in big brands
Yet that's not to say the crypto metaverse is some kind of socialist state. Companies like The Sandbox are out to make money through numerous fees on users. The Sandbox takes a chunky 5% each time anyone buys or sells anything with the sand token, for example.
The Sandbox believes deals with major brands are key to creating a vibrant economy within the metaverse and drawing in users. Museums and art galleries may be a way off but so far The Smurfs, Care Bears, and The Walking Dead have signed up.
It speaks to Borget's vision of the metaverse, a quirky place where fun is paramount.
"Avatars ... will have access to very diverse culturally diverse experiences," he said. "And that makes it a compelling place to be."
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