Managing Director of Greater China at The Sandbox, Harvey Tsoi, discusses The Sandbox’s upcoming plans, the perks of LAND ownership and tourism in the metaverse.
On January 13, 2022, virtual metaverse and mobile game The Sandbox hosted a Mega City LAND sale. Managing Director of Greater China at The Sandbox, Harvey Tsoi, discloses with no air of surprise, “The land was sold within seconds.” And why wouldn’t it be when there’s an opportunity to live next door, at least virtually, to your favorite celebrities, like Snoop Dogg, the Smurfs, The Walking Dead and more? Besides renowned creators, The Sandbox also brings entrepreneurs closer to better business opportunities.
Tsoi adds, “Lots of people want to buy the LAND near our partners and become their neighbors so [that] they can work with them and have similar experiences. It creates a sense of community in the metaverse.”
Presently, The Sandbox team is all hands on deck, which isn’t surprising given their latest endeavors in the metaverse—organizing LAND sales, onboarding celebrities and enabling time travel; it’s all happening. Their popularity is timely and in tune with the present metaverse boom (in November 2021, The Sandbox sold a virtual plot non-fungible token (NFT) for a record US$4.3 million!)
Given that, the Jumpstart team caught up with Tsoi, who takes us through The Sandbox’s journey, the metaverse and the opportunities awaiting startups.
So, how did it all begin?
Founded by Sebastien Borget and Arthur Madrid in 2012, The Sandbox was launched as a 2D application that has been downloaded over 40 million times worldwide. He expounds, “People could create different kinds of environments using water, mud or air.” In total, Tsoi notes that there were about 70 million experiences created on the mobile version.
Later, in 2018, Pixowl, then the parent company of The Sandbox, was acquired by Animoca Brands to develop the current version—a 3D version of the metaverse on the blockchain. In this iteration, people can create their 3D avatars, which are non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and use different NFTs to create in-game assets, like trees, houses, cars and the like.
The Sandbox’s vision was to give users digital ownership, enabled by NFTs and blockchain—something that wasn’t possible earlier. Tsoi shares, “Many years ago, people were paying to play video games, and then it evolved into people playing games for free. But, in reality, they are giving out their data in exchange for playing games.” Though users created remarkable things in video games, including Minecraft or Roblox, they couldn’t make any money from it. He adds, “That’s what inspired Animoca Brands to create this decentralized [platform] for users, where they can own things in the metaverse and actually benefit from playing games.”
What is LAND in The Sandbox?
LAND—a digital piece of real estate on The Sandbox—is an NFT, asserts Tsoi. More specifically, it is of ERC-721 (Ethereum Request for Comments-721) standard, which refers to a class of unique tokens with different values despite being on the same smart contract. He adds, “All the LANDs on The Sandbox are unique and boast scarcity. There are a total of 166,464 LANDs, and there won’t be any more minted.” LAND comes with a range of utilities. For one, people can publish their games there. Tsoi mentions that users can create games using two easy-to-use software developed by The Sandbox: VoxEdit and Game Maker. Secondly, if you choose not to create a game yourself on your LAND, you can rent it to others in the future and earn passive income that way.
You can also use LAND to stake SAND, The Sandbox cryptocurrency token, to earn rewards. Tsoi adds, “We provide additional value to landowners. For example, last season, when we launched Alpha, we gave 1,000 Alpha passes to the landowners, so people could use the Alpha pass to complete some quests, and, at the end of the season, they claimed 1,000 SAND and three NFTs. Based on the token price at that time, it amounted to US$6,000. So, basically, you cover most of the LAND costs once you win the Alpha pass.” Owning LAND also gives you voting power in the metaverse, allowing you to help shape it.
Bringing the real world to the metaverse
The metaverse is a virtual world that reflects the real world, claims Tsoi. People can enter the metaverse, where they can work, play and earn using their 3D avatars. Plus, they can create and do different kinds of jobs. Tsoi illustrates, “Right now, there are builders, designers, marketing people, real estate agents, tour guides (because sometimes, you get lost in the Sandbox and you need someone to lead you), educators and more in the metaverse.” Additionally, in a bid to bring more of the real world to the metaverse, The Sandbox hosted NFT drops from Japan, Korea, Europe, the U.S., Hong Kong and the Greater China area. He says, “We want to bring in all these kinds of cultures in the metaverse with big names that people are familiar with.”
Metaverse for startups
Tsoi believes that the metaverse is an excellent way for startups to participate in the new technology revolution. In fact, some startups are already creating new Intellectual Properties (IPs) and brands in The Sandbox. He credits that to the shorter product development time in the metaverse. “A lot of times, it takes years to develop something in the real world, like in the real estate industry. But, in The Sandbox, you can make buildings and different kinds of landscapes within months or even weeks,” he notes. It’s great for new companies who want to create something that was not possible previously. Besides quicker development, startups also gain access to a greater audience in the metaverse. People in the metaverse are “always looking for new opportunities and new content to explore”, says Tsoi.
Expanding to China
“We are very honored to partner with some of the big names in Hong Kong and the Greater China area, and we are going to announce more partners joining Mega City Two,” declares Tsoi. These partners want to build their own experience in The Sandbox. He shares that the Greater China market brings a large talent pool to The Sandbox. Referring to a metaverse experience titled “Christmas Eve Miracle” on the platform, he shares, “It was the first user-created content experience in Alpha which was developed by a Chinese company, and [it] got the highest rating from users, even higher than the ones that we developed internally.”
That’s not all. The platform also intends on incorporating a range of offerings from Hong Kong. For instance, one of their partners, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), has been creating content for The Sandbox to enable time travel. Tsoi details, “Their experience [is] based on 118 years of archives from their database. They have already finished the first experience called the Central Pier.” There are also experiences from artists, like the Hong Kong rapper Dough-Boy, who is going to set up an NFT Museum and host concerts. Other celebrities, too, will be creating movie-related experiences. With so much lined up, Tsoi urges players to learn more about how they can “contribute to this future” and discover what’s possible for them in The Sandbox.
He professes, “There are a lot of things coming. We can’t wait to see them!” Suffice to say, neither can we!
Header Image by Joey Chung