Sébastien Borget (The Sandbox): "We could grow faster with airdrops, but that's not part of our philosophy".

Sébastien Borget (The Sandbox): "We could grow faster with airdrops, but that's not part of our philosophy".

A leader in its sector, The Sandbox is not immune to the questions and doubts surrounding metavers and their future. We spoke to its co-founder and COO, Sébastien Borget.

Two years on from the hype surrounding the metaverse, it seems that things have clearly died down. Is anything still happening in the metaverse? Is it still relevant to be interested in it?

At the risk of surprising you, I don't agree with you at all! Sure, the metaverse doesn't get as much media coverage as it used to, but there's still plenty going on. We're continuing to develop The Sandbox, and we're not the only ones: the other decentralised metavers are making progress. Centralised metavers like Roblox, Fortnite and Meta are also developing very well.

What's the difference between 'centralised' metavers and 'decentralised' metavers like The Sandbox?

The big difference is first and foremost the creators, i.e. those individuals and companies who create in metavers. Thanks to blockchain and the digital objects available in the form of NFTs, the creators of content, experiences and games are the owners of their works. It is they who perceive the value of what they create and not the company behind the metaverse.

Speaking of creation, The Sandbox has just set up a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) with a sort of committee of "five wise men", of which you are in fact a member? What is the purpose of this DAO?

Decentralised metavers differ from other metavers in two ways: firstly because the creators own their works, and secondly because their governance is different.

Since the launch, we've wanted to decentralise the governance of The Sandbox, and that's what we've started to do with our DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) which brings together all the holders of plots and Sand (The Sandbox's token, editor's note).

The council, which brings together 5 leading figures from the sector, temporarily organises this decentralisation. The aim is for the community to gradually take control of the game and take part in decision-making.

What decisions?

This concerns many things: the rewards system, the game's features, etc. Eventually, The Sandbox will be driven by the people who use it.

There are 25 million sands allocated annually to run the DAO. At the current rate, that's about $8 million, giving the DAO autonomy. The aim is for The Sandbox to exist forever and to be governed by its community. If it works, we can serve as an example to other metavers.

Didn't you choose to focus on governance because the results aren't there on the experience and gameplay side? There are only a few thousand players on The Sandbox whereas there are tens of millions in centralised metavers like Fortnite...

No, things are moving forward. We're making progress on the gameplay, we're continuing to update the creation tools for creators. It's quite interesting to see how The Sandbox develops. Whatever happens, if there isn't adoption, there's no point in touching governance. The two are linked. Giving users the right to vote only makes sense if the game works.

You say The Sandbox is growing. How many player creators and brands do you have?

We have exceeded 330,000 creators over the last 12 months (they have at least downloaded the creation tool, editor's note), and we have between 30,000 and 50,000 active players and creators each month. The number of brands also continues to grow.

How many brands are there?

We've passed 1,000 brand experiences since launch and things are going to accelerate. We're looking to grow The Sandbox all over the planet, but it's especially in Asia that we're getting traction. We've just opened a community in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea.

One of the big topics at the moment are airdrops, which reward the most active members of a community. Do you have any plans to do this?

We could grow faster with airdrops, but that doesn't fit in with our philosophy. We prefer tools that have an immediate use.

How do you attract people to The Sandbox?

There are lots of ways: bootcamps, workshops, game jams (competitions to win prizes). We're going to have around fifty this year.

What's in it for brands to be present in The Sandbox?

It helps increase customer loyalty and engagement. Thanks to the metaverse, brands can capture their customers' attention for 20 to 40 minutes on immersive experiences. There are quests, gamification and prizes. These are NFTs and digital assets, and we can also give away very real gifts (merch).

Do you have any concrete examples?

Take the case of a brand like Lionsgate. They've launched a land called Action City. In this universe, you are a character and you have quests. The more quests you complete, the more you discover about the brand, and the more gifts and even sands you can earn. It's a new way of engaging customers and fans of brands.

In a completely different area, we have an airline that has been giving away discount vouchers or even plane tickets in its Land.

What about buying products live in Lands?

That's coming.

Today, how much does it cost a company to go into the metaverse?

We have 220 certified partners who can support companies with their strategy in The Sandbox. They help them create experiences. There are agencies like Havas Play. They help them build their land and create experiences. The price of land varies greatly, as does the creation of an experience. It can cost €10,000 to create a small experience. Some experiences can cost more than 100,000 euros.

Do you continue to sell lands?

No other platform allows you to do this: you can have a Land where you want and next to the company or personality you want.

10 days ago, we launched Agoria, who is a French DJ. We've done several collaborations with him, such as a collection of avatars, the 'agorians'. He's just opened his own museum in The Sandbox, called the bio gen arts museum, where you can find his works (which were at the Musée d'Orsay) and where he'll be pushing other artists. It's a very good example of what the metaverse is all about.

In The Sandbox, there are creators, brands and players. Who are the most active?

What's interesting is how active the individual creators are and how successful they're starting to become. Not so long ago, creator experiments would only bring in 10 or 15 people, but now it can be a few hundred people.

Creators are building their own communities. I'm sure that within a few years we'll have creators making very popular games in The Sandbox. We have competitions to win sands. One creator recently won 400,000 sands ($130,000).

We're creating a very coherent ecosystem: there are brands bringing in new audiences and creators creating content and experiences. No other platform allows that.

You've just announced a $20 million fundraising round with a valuation of $1 billion. Just two years ago, The Sandbox's valuation was$3.7 billion, according to Bloomberg. How do you explain such a fall?

We had never confirmed this valuation. With this new deal, backed in particular by Animoca Brands and True Global Ventures, The Sandbox is worth a billion dollars and is officially a unicorn.

This deal validates the team's work: the growth in UGC, the number of brands, the collections of avatars, the lands that are selling, in short everything is developing.

What are the next steps for The Sandbox? Apart from governance.

Every 2 weeks, there are SIPs (sandbox improvement proposals). We have to vote on these proposals. Right now we've voted on a Red Cross experiment and the purchase of carbon credit.

The big topic is going to be the launch of The Sandbox in Beta. Today, we're still on alpha. This is 0.10. We think the Beta will be available this year. The idea of the Beta is to be much faster. The new version is faster, you can change world in a few tens of seconds, before it was 2 minutes. And eventually it will be instantaneous. We're also going to improve the creation tools. By improving this, we're going to attract even more users and brands.

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