Everybody Wins in the Circular Economy of The Sandbox

Robert Hoogendoorn

4 months ago

The Sandbox is an upcoming virtual world with a strong emphasis in gaming and that’s built on the idea of a blockchain-powered circular economy. At its core is an idea that everything and everybody involved in the community of The Sandbox is being rewarded for their participation. To understand more about all this, we talked to co-founder and COO Sebastien Borget.

TSB Gaming has been selling virtual land parcels through pre-sales since late 2019. They conducted three major land sales during which approximately 17 percent of the total land supply was sold. Ultimately there will be 166.464 land parcels in the hands of gamers, creators, and investors. At the moment there are 1334 different addresses holding LAND tokens, and that number is likely to increase in the coming weeks. Currently the company is organizing weekly land sales events, which will be followed by the fourth and final major pre-sale later this year.

So far their virtual land has been a major talking point for the company, and an asset for speculation for investors. On a weekly basis there's 40 to 100 ETH in peer-to-peer trading volume on the open market. This type of trading is only the first layer of the economy. Sebastien Borget and the team behind The Sandbox have much bigger plans. In recent months the team has been releasing more tools that will help to build value for The Sandbox. "The value system is essentiel. It's at the core of The Sandbox, and it will touch every aspect of our ecosystem", Borget told Dapp.Review.

Gems and Catalysts
Using free software called VoxEdit anybody can create characters, items and decorations that can be used by players and game builders. When these creations from VoxEdit have been approved by the curators, they will end up in the store. Every created item in VoxEdit will become a non-fungible token. However, the rarity of the token depends on something called a catalyst. This catalyst is an ERC-20 token that determines the rarity of an item.

A common catalyst is less valuable, and allows users to mint 200 copies of their VoxEdit creation. The more rare the catalyst, the smaller the amount of copies will be. Each used catalyst also adds one or more gem sockets to an item. Gems are another ERC-20 token, and these give an asset additional gameplay attributes. These are gems that add power, defense, magic, speed and luck. Common items will only have one gem socket, while legendary items offer four gem sockets.

There will always be only one legendary item. However, the epic, rare and common items can be scaled up. When there are for example one million active players, even the 200 copies for a common item can be considered rare. "If we come to that point, something needs to be done to the number of copies that gets minted from an asset", Borget figures.

"The value of an asset isn't only shown in its scarcity, but also in its utility during gameplay", the co-founder of The Sandbox speculated. Additional strength or defense could be useful attributes to players in certain scenarios. In addition these attributes also add an extra layer of depth to the gameplay from the perspective of the game designer.
Not everybody will be able to mint legendary items. Even though there's basically an endless supply of tokens, The Sandbox will only issue a limited amount of catalysts on for example a daily or weekly basis. This still needs to be finalized. Borget emphasized that the company wants to be very hands-on to make sure the balance between the rarity of the assets stays the same. In addition The Sandbox won't be selling these catalysts or gems, but instead users will need to acquire them through gameplay, community activation or peer-to-peer trading.

Creators that for example want to mint ten copies of an item they created in VoxEdit, will need the epic catalyst. In addition they will need three gems to add attributes to their creation. However, placing gems isn't a requirement. Anybody who owns an asset from The Sandbox will be able to add gems, but once a socket is filled it stays like that. That's how catalysts and gems are being used in the creation process of assets for The Sandbox. The value of a game asset will in the end all depend on its scarcity, beauty and how it can be used inside the game world.

Monetization in The Sandbox
Landowners will be able to acquire items from the store and use these to build interactive experiences on their land. However, the required Game Maker software is currently not available yet. They are still in a testing phase. The Sandbox wants to make the software available in beta by the end of the summer. If nothing goes wrong, Borget is expecting to release The Sandbox to the public by the end of the year. Then everybody will be free to monetize their land anyway they want, even though Borget already has a preference.

"Most people don't pay to play anymore", he said. "Freemium is important to us. But creators are free to for example close some areas of their land to paying gamers only. They would need to pay some Sand tokens or maybe buy a certain non-fungible token as an access pass."

Monetizing land goes further than just having users pay for play sessions and access. Land could potentially be an extension to an existing business. Shop owners could connect their webshop to the virtual world, while clothing designers could offer their designs both physically and virtually. In addition this could allow for physical services to tie into virtual worlds. For example: Maybe a pizza company will create a virtual restaurant that landowners can place on their land. In turn visitors can order an actual pizza using Sand and have it delivered to their actual doorstep.

There aren't many details yet about the Sand token, and Borget wasn't willing to go in-depth about it yet. However he did mention that every player will be able to earn Sand tokens. "We are working on those mechanics. You can think about a reward based on the user's active playtime. We could also hand it out as a reward for community activities", the French co-founder of The Sandbox told us.

The thing that's set in stone, is that the Sand token can be used across the in-game ecosystem of The Sandbox. Players will be able to pay in-game for services and play sessions, while Sand tokens can also be staked on land parcels. This staking mechanism isn't finalized yet.
The circular economy
The concept of a circular economy is that everything is connected, dependent or reused. Every contributor within The Sandbox ecosystem needs something from somebody else. Landowners need game creators, game creators need asset artists, asset artists need gamers who find gems and catalysts, and in turn gamers need landowners to offer them a location to have fun. Because every element is player-owned, users can trade, share, lend, borrow or sell every item they possess. This is a very strong proposition, and an interesting one to pay attention to.

"Each of them adds value to our ecosystem, and they will receive incentives to do so", Borget said. Content is king on a platform like The Sandbox, and that's why he believes it's so important that everybody is rewarded for their efforts. Even the player, who's traditionally considered as a consumer, will be part of this participation economy.

The Sandbox really wants their game world to breathe the play-to-earn business model. Their virtual world will be accessible freely and contributors to the ecosystem are rewarded for their activity. "Any participant that contributes one way or the other is being able to be directly or indirectly rewarded for their participation in the platform. They bring value to the platform and are able to use that value as well", Borget concluded.