The blockchain-based virtual world that can help usher in the metaverse


One of the essential features of a working metaverse will be the ability to move your avatar and assets seamlessly and instantaneously from world to world. Blockchain may be the thing that makes that possible. And The Sandbox, a world based on the Etherium cryptocurrency, has an approach to perpetual, player-owned tokens that could point the way forward.

“The idea of blockchain in the metaverse is to build a new kind of digital asset, to create based on ownership and governance,” said Arthur Madrid, CEO and co-founder of The Sandbox, in a conversation with Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer at GamesBeat. The panel, dubbed “Blockchain and the Metaverse,” was part of the recent GamesBeat event, Into the Metaverse.

The current manifestation of The Sandbox, a virtual world where players can build, own, and monetize their own voxel gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain, has just those kinds of assets. Users gain ownership of their creations as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which means the number of items and the history of their ownership can be tracked, and items can be verified as one-of-a-kind. The value of each individual NFT is also defined by the community. Under the ownership of Animoca Brands, the team’s vision is to offer a deeply immersive metaverse in which virtual worlds and games will be created collaboratively and without centralized authority.

The Sandbox features three main components: the VoxEdit NFT builder for building what they call ASSETs, the marketplace for buying and selling ASSETs, and the game maker tool where interactive games can be constructed and shared. These components are intended to allow players to create voxel worlds and game experiences, and the ability to safely store, trade, and monetize their creations through blockchain, allowing creators to benefit from their creations and evolving how digital assets in games are understood, at a fundamental level.

“I think people are truly blown away by the amount of money that players spend in digital assets — hundreds, thousands, and probably millions of dollars spent on digital assets,” he said. “I think making those assets NFTs, building an NFT economy, is going to add a new layer on top of the existing digital economy.”

Madrid believes that games and worlds built on this style of gameplay will eventually move from a revenue sharing model, where the game company essentially gets a kickback from player creativity, to one where 100% of the revenue will belong to the players. At that point, the value of the metaverse will come from the service you provide players — and in return, word of mouth from players will bring new users into the fold.

Plus, for an avatar-centric metaverse, in which people want to create an identity to travel from one virtual world to the next, making that avatar an NFT could be key, Madrid said, pointing at how you could use ERC-1155 to easily import the assets of a player on your metaverse. Because it’s decentralized, he explained, you could potentially use an API to call any of the items a player used in their gaming session.

NFT stock and blockchain can also be used to build a governance system attached to a unique mechanism.

“That will probably move the very simple gameplay and gameplay mechanics to much more advanced gameplay mechanics that, in my opinion, match up with the concept of the metaverse,” he said. “When you join a metaverse you understand that it comes with a certain kind of gameplay that makes you be part of it, and based on your engagement, based on what you create, based on the personality and the actions that you’re going to achieve inside the metaverse, makes you able to vote for it.”

Blockchain technology isn’t mature enough to be used in the creation of the metaverse quite yet; in a world where you’re looking for 60 frames per second, taking minutes to update is a no-flier. But Madrid points out that you wouldn’t currently add blockchain to a game with 250 million players — it’s better to build a blockchain metaverse from scratch.

“We are experimenting with this new way to transact with blockchain and there’s a lot to be improved,” he said. “However, crypto communities always compare the blockchain technology to internet in the very beginning. In 1999, nobody could believe that you could use the internet at such a level of speed. As soon as [a technology] is adopted, there is always a solution to make it to make it efficient.”


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