The Sandbox vs Decentraland

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Contributor, Benzinga
January 12, 2022

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The term “metaverse” was first used in 1992 by Author Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. In his novel, Stephenson drafted a world where lifelike avatars would meet in realistic 3D virtual reality environments. 

The metaverse is now a reality. It is a shared digital reality where digital representations of people can interact with each other. Decentraland and The Sandbox both offer versions of metaverse. But what’s the difference? Learn more now with Benzinga’s guide.

What is The Metaverse?

It is difficult to provide a concrete definition for “the metaverse” due to its early development and postulation. It is possible that attempting to define the metaverse in 2022 could be similar to attempting to define the Internet back in the 1980s. A new form of communication is being built, but no one is really sure what this technology will ultimately look like in the future. 

It is important to note that there will not be just one metaverse. There will be many metaverses serving many different functions. Some of these functions could include gaming, business, education and much more. 

Additionally, there are many different companies interested in building metaverses. The most famous currently may be the tech giant formerly known as Facebook, which chose to rebrand its company as Meta in October 2021. The company famously sunk more than $10 billion into the project.

A current and intuitive example of a metaverse could be Roblox. Roblox is a gaming platform and game creation system that allows players to play games and create games for others to play. The platform claims that it has 47 million daily users and that over half of American children use the platform. 

Decentraland and The Sandbox are another example of current day metaverses. Unlike Roblox, both are fully decentralized metaverses. This means that there is not a controlling centralized entity governing the platforms. Both virtual worlds are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. 

The code behind the platforms are not run on centralized servers controlled by a single entity. Both platforms plan to govern themselves through the use of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs. The Decentraland platform is governed by its users through the Decentraland DAO. Users who hold the crypto currency MANA or land NFTs may choose to vote on proposed changes to the platform. 

The Sandbox does not currently have a DAO and is being run by a centralized entity at the moment. However, it plans to launch a DAO in the near future, with the SAND cryptocurrency serving as a governance token. The Sandbox is still often called a decentralized platform, despite this being almost entirely false at the moment.

Decentraland vs The Sandbox: What’s The Difference?

Decentraland has 90,601 parcels of land. These parcels of land are grouped into individual parcels, estates (multiple parcels), districts (parcels with similar themes) and plazas (untradable community owned parcels). Decentraland has three types of tokens: MANA, WEAR and LAND. 

The Sandbox has 166,464 plots of land and they can be grouped into estates (owned by one person) or districts (owned by 2 or more people). The Sandbox has four types of Tokens: SAND, ASSETS, GAMES and LAND.

One of the main differences between the 2 platforms is age. Decentraland is the older of the two and was the pioneer of the 3D Blockchain Metaverse. It was the first to create a working proof of concept and currently has a game that is available to the public. The Sandbox only has an Alpha version available to the public. 

Decentraland is currently run by a DAO, while the Sandbox is not. An interesting thing to note is that The Sandbox seemily has a more detailed and concrete plan for the future than it’s competitor Decentraland. This may be a benefit of being run by a centralized authority who has experience in the gaming industry rather than a DAO. 

The Sandbox currently has better graphics than Decentraland. However, users must download a windows application to access The Sandbox. Decentraland also allows peer-to-peer communications without any way for a centralized server to hear what you are talking about. 

History of The Sandbox vs Decentraland

The Decentraland Foundation was founded by Esteban Ordano and Ariel Meilich in 2015. The Decentraland Foundation is the organization behind the development of the Decentraland software. 

The Decentraland Foundation holds the intellectual property rights and maintains the Decentraland website. The team held an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in 2017 and raised 86,206 Eth (about $26 million at the time) to fund the development of decentraland. Decentrand was released to the public in January 2020. 

The Sandbox was originally a mobile game released on May 15, 2012. This mobile game was developed by gamestudio Pixowl. The 2012 mobile game was titled The Sandbox because it provided users with tools to create their own nonlinear gameplay, commonly known as a sandbox mode. 

The Sandbox brand was acquired by Animoca Brand in 2018. Animoca Brands then started the development of the well known blockchain 3D open world metaverse we know today, using the same brand as the previous mobile game.

In 2019, The Sandbox raised $2.01 million dollars in cash and crypto to fund the development of The Sandbox. In November 2021 SoftBank led another $93 million dollar investment for The Sandbox.

The Sandbox has yet to be fully released to the public. However, the alpha version of The Sandbox Metaverse was launched for the public on November 29, 2021. The original mobile game of The Sandbox is still available as The Sandbox Evolution. 

The Sandbox vs Decentraland Backing

Decentraland is backed by many well known and respected firms. These firms include the likes of FBG Capital, CoinFund and Digital Currency Group. Furthermore, Decentraland has partnered with Cyberpunk, Polygon, Samsung and the South Korean Government.

SoftBank is one of the largest backers of The Sandbox. SoftBank is a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Minato, Tokyo and focuses on investment management. Softbank primarily invests in companies operating in technology, energy and financial sectors. Softbank is one of the largest investment companies in the world and has been the backers of various other firms such as Uber, WeWork and Slack. 

Where to Buy SAND and MANA Tokens

Cryptocurrencies play an important role in both Decentralad and The Sandbox. They are the fuel for these metaverse economies. 

Visitors to these metaverses may use their respective cryptocurrencies to purchase various items, services or experiences. These items can include virtual land, wearables and unique names. 

Purchasing experiences could range from buying tickets to a live concert, paying admission to an art museum, going on a hot-air balloon trip, or even trying your luck at a casino. You may also choose to trade items in Decentraland’s Bartertown, purchase digital art or go learn at Decentraland University. All of these activities require cryptocurrencies to participate. 

You can easily purchase MANA using centralized exchanges such as Coinbase, eToro and Gemini. If you’re looking to purchase SAND, the best place to do so is on Gemini. This is because SAND is currently not available to purchase using Coinbase. 

You may also purchase MANA and SAND using many popular decentralized exchanges. Both the MANA token and SAND token are Ethereum ERC-20 tokens. You can easily swap for these tokens on decentralized exchanges using Eth or other popular ERC-20 tokens. Some popular decentralized exchanges for these tokens include Uniswap, Metamask Swap and Sushiswap. 

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The Sandbox vs Decentraland vs Other Competition in The Metaverse

Other decentralized metaverses to keep an eye on are The Otherside, Somnium Space and Enjin. The Otherside will likely be the greatest competitor for both The Sandbox and Decentraland. It is in development in collaboration with Animoca Brands (which owns The Sandbox too) and Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection. It plans to launch a full playable demo soon. Somnium Space is a virtual reality world built on the Ethereum blockchain. It is similar to Decentraland and The Sandbox in the sense that it also allows users to purchase digital land, items and services. Somnium Space is an open-source platform. 

The Enjin Network is an interconnected ecosystem of blockchain-powered games. Facebook, or now Meta, is also busy building a metaverse. However, this metaverse will most likely not be a decentralized metaverse, but a centralized world like Roblox. 

The Sandbox vs Decentraland Which is Better? 

It is difficult to say which decentralized metaverse is better”at the moment. The Sandbox is still in Alpha mode and has not been as battle tested as Decentraland. The Sandbox has better graphics and runs more smoothly than Decentraland, and The Sandbox is much more centralized than Decentraland at the moment. 

Having a metaverse built on top of Ethereum with large amounts of centralization kills the benefits and purpose of building on the Ethereum blockchain. Still many blockchain projects start out centralized and decentralize over time, which is something that The Sandbox claims to wish to do in the future.

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About Sungyu Kwon

Sungyu Kwon is a student studying Computer Science and Business at Michigan State University. At MSU he serves as the VP of Spartan Blockchain Solutions. Originally from West Hartford, Connecticut, Sungyu currently resides in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, Michigan. He holds positions in Ethereum, Cardano, and a handful of DeFi projects.