Discovering the Metaverse Part 1 - Sandbox vs Decentraland
So a while back, we released an article called “Welcome to the Metaverse — Here’s What to Expect.” It was an introduction to what the term “Metaverse” means, and captured, at a high level, where the technology could be headed.
Since then, talk around the Metaverse has broadened, and interest in the technology has grown. Also, Fayre’s involvement in developing Metaverse technologies has started to earn public notice. Our CEO, Luis Carranza, has recently been named one of the ‘Top Players in the Metaverse’ afterall!
Because of Fayre’s ‘meta-growth’, we thought it would be a fun idea to launch a new series comparing the top Metaverses out there today. So get ready to join us on our quest to find the best Metaverse features, top Metaverse developments, and further explore the direction the technology is trending.
Our first head-to-head comparison will be between the top two Metaverses, Sandbox and Decentraland. Both of these Metaverses have been developing for several years and offer users both similar and unique experiences. Any bets on which you might prefer?
The Basics of Sandbox
The Sandbox Metaverse was founded in 2011 by Sébastien Borget, but was originally founded as a mobile game designed to allow users to create their own nonlinear gameplay (hence the name Sandbox). In 2018, Animoca Brands bought the mobile game and began developing the Sandbox into a Metaverse. Anyone can participate in the Sandbox as it is a play-to-earn system available around the world. Should you wish to join this Metaverse, you can earn their native, decentralized token, $SAND.
The Sandbox whitepaper can be found here, but it leads off with the project’s enticing vision of “building a unique virtual world where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences using SAND, the main utility token of the platform.” Shortly after it states one of Sandbox’s more fascinating appeals which is that users can participate in “governance of the platform via a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), where they can exercise voting rights… in the ecosystem.” Of course, this wouldn’t be possible if Sandbox didn’t exist on the Ethereum blockchain.
Anyone with a Mac or PC can enjoy gaming in the Sandbox Metaverse and experience the system’s voxel-based graphics style. All you need is a web browser that can support the Unreal Engine 4 gaming engine. The good news for anyone getting into either gaming or Metaverses is that Sandbox is easy to create and build on and the multiplayer gaming options are pretty sweet!
All characters and avatars are free to create, and users can make and use their own wearables which then become tradable (buy/sell) with other Metaverse gamers. For those that enjoy streaming their gaming, Sandbox is highly accommodating with live video stream options, audio availability for fire jams, as well as animated gif, text, and voice chat options.
The Basics of Decentraland
Although Sandbox was originally created in 2011, it didn’t become a Metaverse project until 2018 which makes Decentraland the first Metaverse project. Decentraland was founded in 2017 by Esteban Ordano, and was also developed by Animoca Brands as a play-to-earn platform available to the world. The project is a decentralized platform that you can earn $MANA and $LAND (the project’s two native tokens) on. Another plus is that users can stake tokens for governance capabilities.
The Decentraland whitepaper states that the project is an Ethereum-based platform designed for users who wish to “create, experience, and monetize content and applications.” And while the project has a more eclectic approach to roadmap planning than Sandbox, the developers do have plans for future expansion and growth with NFTs, celebrities, NFT creators, and NFT brands.
Decentraland operates on both Mac and PC, and presents a cartoon-type graphic style for both their gamers and artists. To access Decentraland, you simply need a web browser that can run the Unity game engine. Once that is taken care of, anyone can grow into the platform’s wide range of versatility, and enjoy features like the drag and drop builder.
When getting started, registering an avatar costs 100 MANA and the gas fees that come with the ethereum transaction. However, the price is worth it since users can design their own avatar wearables. And if you like you can also buy and sell avatars to other users, including your connected friends. While in the Metaverse, get ready to enjoy full NFT purchase experiences. The platform is also accommodating for artists that wish to broadcast their Metaverse experiences with live streams, video and audio capabilities, and text and voice chats.
How Do The Two Differ?
While both Metaverses offer full, 3D immersive experiences and many of the supporting features are similar, there are a few differences between the two that should be noted.
To join Sandbox, as mentioned earlier, users simply need a compatible browser, and they will also need a Metamask wallet connected to a social media account or email. Essentially Sandbox has a level of KYC that is not seen on Decentraland.
Decentraland only requires a wallet to connect to a compatible browser. However, both Metaverses are reported to be intuitive to use during gaming, building, and social interactions.
Funding and Financial Backing
Sandbox has secured backing worth $95 million. Most of it has come from SoftBank, which is a Japanese multinational firm that focuses on investment management. But the project has also received funding from Uber and Slack.
Decentraland’s financial backing comes in at $25 million with many supportive partnerships pushing the platform forward. The South Korean Government, Samsung, firms like Digital Currency Group, FBG Capital, and CoinFund, and crypto/NFT monoliths Polygon and Cyberpunk have all vouched support for the platform.
To compare both Metaverses ability to scale, we’ll look at three key Metaverse ingredients — crypto and wallets accepted, gas fees, and real estate (land plots).
Crypto and wallets
What are the available types of crypto users can interact with, wallets accepted, connecting to each Metaverse.
Sandbox — ERC-20 wallets are accepted on Sandbox and can be used to connect to the Metaverse and interact with once online. Ethereum is therefore a usable crypto and is required for gas fees.
Decentraland — ERC-20 wallets are also accepted on Decentraland, but thanks to a partnership with Walletconnect, users can now connect Polygon-based wallets to the Metaverse. Ethereum and MATIC can be used to transact and cover transaction fees.
These are essentially transaction fees that occur due to trading on a blockchain.
Sandbox — Gas fees are high on Sandbox due to the Metaverse operating on the Ethereum blockchain. This blockchain is notorious for high gas fees, but may eventually switch from a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus protocol to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocol which would significantly reduce gas fees.
Decentraland — Gas fees are basically non-existent on Decentraland since the Metaverse operates on the Polygon blockchain. The layer 2 option provides a PoS consensus protocol and has a much higher transaction verification efficiency making transacting cheaper.
These are spaces available in the Metaverse that act as digital real estate. The amount of purchasable real estate will always have an impact on the scalability of a Metaverse.
Sandbox — The Sandbox Metaverse hosts a grand total of 166,464 plots which are open for single, and seldom duo ownership. Plots are purchasable via SAND, GAMES, LAND, and ASSETs (all of which are tokens). Sandbox’s real estate is more open than Decentraland’s as virtual land is available on OpenSea.
Decentraland — The Decentraland Metaverse hosts less plots than Sandbox with 90,601 plots, rather, parcels of land. Parcels can be divided hierarchically, meaning many parcels of real estate can make an estate parcel, which can be used to build a parcel of land. Parcels can be purchased with MANA, LAND, or WEAR (different types of tokens). Virtual real estate on Decentraland is only purchased on the MANA marketplace.
Pros and Cons of Each
Both Metaverses have fantastic features and experiences to offer their users. It can be difficult to parse which one is better than the other, so let’s try a classic pros and cons list. (We’ll only list things unique to either Metaverse to keep the lists simple)
Pros: More access points to join, PoW security and reliability, has a clearly defined roadmap, KYC (personal preference), more virtual reality, more token options
Cons: High gas fees, KYC (personal preference)
Pros: Promotes personal privacy preferences, less expensive with Polygon integrations, more financial supporters
Cons: PoS has its limits and isn’t as reliable as PoW, less certain path forward
These two Metaverses are both awesome projects that have certainly earned their praise. While both provide the user with incredible experiences, they are also masters of their own domains. For those that prefer more personal privacy and cheaper fees, Decentraland may be the way to go. And likewise, those who prefer higher forms of security and further optionality are probably more likely to stick with Sandbox.
A case can be made that either Metaverse aligns more with Fayre than the other. Ultimately, both do a good job at matching Fayre’s mission to deliver a safe and accessible NFT and Metaverse experience to everyone who wishes to participate. Scalability is a key determinant to pay attention to as the Metaverses evolve through time.
But the real question is which Metaverse do you think won the shootout? Leave us a comment or send us a message about your favorite Metaverse and let us know which ones we should look at next!