Metaverse experiences with major brands, artists and DJs drive The Sandbox’s resurgence

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Significant partnerships with luxury brands and entertainment figures and a focus on developing new experiences and events helped The Sandbox endure a prolonged cryptocurrency bear market.

Co-founder Sébastien Borget and CEO Arthur Madrid spoke exclusively to Cointelegraph at NFT Paris about renewed interest in the metaverse platform’s native token, new partnerships with the likes of Gucci and Lacoste, and its long-term goals to remain the home of virtual experiences in the Web3 space.

“People enjoy saying the metaverse is dead, but it’s definitely not for us. For Facebook, it’s not. If you listen to Tim Sweeney at Epic, he is also extremely bullish on the metaverse. Having a metaverse with crypto, with NFTs [nonfungible tokens] and avatars, it’s still very meaningful,” Madrid explains.

A recent report published by cryptocurrency market intelligence firm Messari highlights a renewed interest in The Sandbox’s (SAND) token and the platform itself. SAND’s circulating market cap increased by 89% to $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, up from $649 million, outperforming the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies in the same quarter.

Messari State of The Sandbox. Source: Messari on X

Meanwhile, activities including creating and trading in-game assets and experiences, excluding Sandbox LAND sales, grew significantly. Daily average active non-LAND buyers were up 73%, non-LAND mints grew by 233%, while daily average non-LAND secondary sales and daily average non-LAND secondary volume were up by 173% and 78% respectively in Q4, 2023.

The Sandbox also secured new partnerships with luxury brands and companies like Warner Music Group and its Notorious B.I.G avatar collection, Japanese software developer Drecom and Singapore media conglomerate MediaCorp.

An eye on new markets

Borget said the company has a history of building in the depths of cryptocurrency bear markets. The Sandbox was born in 2018 as Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies crashed in the wake of market highs in late 2017.

“We tried to ship product updates and focus on the creator first to empower them to create new content experiences. Last year we released some major updates, including the opening of publishing on the map and we have thousands of live and playable experiences,” Borget said.

Related: Metaverse is dead in the West, but ‘so hot’ in Asia: Sandbox co-founder

The co-founder added that the sale of in-game assets, including wearables and other nonfungible tokens (NFTs), was not necessarily an indicator of activity or growth of the platform:

“It doesn’t mean that people have to purchase NFTs all the time for a platform to be active. I think that is what a bear market doesn’t really capture well.”

Borget said The Sandbox has been engaging with creators, companies and brands with a keen focus on Asian markets. The audience in these regions is “more receptive” to Borget and Madrid’s vision of Web3 and metaverses.

“Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and India have been a growth driver for The Sandbox, even during the bear market, and we were able to sell out all our land sales,” Borget said.

The Sandbox carried out eight primary LAND sales in 2023, of which the company retains earnings, and i launched 17 avatar collections. Borget said most of these sales have sold out, indicating continued interest in metaverse experiences for creators and players.

Long term plans

A period of resurgence is a positive, but Madrid believes that metaverse platforms like The Sandbox and Decentraland, which are part of Animoca Brand’s blockchain portfolio, are developing a “fantastic ecosystem” built around native tokens:

“We are building a solid ecosystem around SAND, with thousands of games that have been built using our tools.”

Madrid adds that conventional Web2 games like World of Warcraft, Fortnite and Roblox are living proof that successful virtual worlds have longevity that can last for decades.

“Apart from being Web3 and being attached to digital ownership, it gives us a lot of optimism and certainty about our success. We are also a big company. We did several equity rounds, we have solid cash flow. We are building plans up to 2035,” Madrid said.

Related: Here’s how the World Economic Forum leaps into the metaverse — Davos 2023

The co-founder adds that their focus on working with brands, artists, musicians and creators has significantly influenced The Sandbox’s success. He contends that Web2 giants like Roblox and Meta’s metaverse experiences are substandard for the resources they command, especially when comparing the narratives presented to users.

Cointelegraph explores The Sandbox’s 2024 Love and Music Festival event, which brings back the Steve Aoki experience in a revamped introductory area. Source: Cointelegraph

The platform has worked directly with household names like Snoop Dogg, DJs Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 and BLOND:ISH, as well as with skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, to co-create experiences for fans.

Similarly, Madrid says the company works with companies like Adidas and its fanbase, offering SAND rewards to users to collaborate to build experiences like “Adidas Land.” This, in turn, shows these companies the interest and creativity of their Web3 user base.

“I think what makes The Sandbox special is the narrative. We have a big narrative team and enjoy working with artists. People like Steve Aoki and Jamiroquai tell us that despite being a startup, we go much deeper in terms of emotion and experiences.”

The Sandbox has a total of 12 offices around the world, including two locations in Paris and hubs in Latin America, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul. The company employs around 350 people, with more than half of the team responsible for building the technology and tools used to create experiences in the metaverse platform.

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