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Hackernoon logoBlockchain Gaming: The Most Definitive Guide To The Hype Behind It by@mickey-maler

Blockchain Gaming: The Most Definitive Guide To The Hype Behind It

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@mickey-malerMickey Maler

This article describes why certain blockchain games can be a good long-term investment possibility.

Gaming as an investment

Blockchain gaming started a new era of breaking old boundaries and overcoming technological obstacles in the gaming industry. At the heart of this transformation is the idea of putting players in the role of creators, developers, co-artist, stakeholders, and co-owners of the gaming worlds they explore and expand.

These games may not benefit much from the latest graphic cards, but put all the more emphasis on creativity, automation, freedom of choice, and collecting. In addition, they utilize blockchain technology features, such as smart contracts and the use of non-fungible tokens.

All these go hand-in-hand with investment possibilities, given that video game collectors and enthusiasts have historically been willing to pay small fortunes for impressive virtual collections or enhancements, which puts a player to a slight advantage over his foes.

The mechanics of collecting have proven themselves in non-gaming areas, such as tradeable sports cards, Magic the Gathering, historical coins, bugs, or ancient Chess figures.

The price of a single item usually is not enormous, but once gathered and put into a collection of some sort,
its costs can escalate dramatically. Also, to keep the collectors motivated and interested, they need to make those collections valuable needs to evolve and escalate simultaneously.

For example, tradeable NHL Hockey cards evolved from classic paper rectangles to 2D plastic works of art, and even adding something that belonged to an NHL player as a bonus for the collector.

Instead of a pack of cards we used to buy for a few bucks, we can now purchase bundles that contain a piece of a jersey from a championship or finale game, a part of a hockey stick, an autograph of a player, and so on.

As a matter of fact, blockchain gaming worlds that embrace the use of rarity and scarcity of the game objects in their games can provide something more; the opportunity for investment speculation.

However, an old saying goes one should invest only in what they love or understand, and accordingly, the research process is critical before investing.

In this article, I will also describe the research process needed before investing in blockchain games, and lays out opportunities that blockchain games provide to today's players and investors, using The Sandbox ecosystem as an example.

This is because The Sandbox offers not just the potential of financial gain to its investors, but also versatile solutions and investment mechanics.

Enter The Sandbox

The Sandbox is a blockchain-powered multiplayer multi-game virtual world, in which a user can create games and play games that others created, use teleports to literally jump with their avatar from one game into another, and many others.

It is a world that turns players into developers without the need to know a programming language, and also a world that turns these creative players into game owners and ecosystem stakeholders. NFTs usage provides a user with true ownership over the earned assets.

No longer will you buy an item in your games and see your money simply disappear. Your NFT has real, tangible value and can be resold if you're interested. At the end of this cycle, The Sandbox wants the platform to be fully decentralized, where we provide the tools for development and expand the platforms for play.

If this is the first time you are reading about The Sandbox, see the The Sandbox: A Decentralized Virtual Gaming World for more information about The Sandbox ecosystem and its in-game experience and game creation.

To create a game in The Sandbox ecosystem, the user needs to own a special “construction lot”, where it is possible to create the game in a manner not unlike Minecraft. These creation areas are called LANDs and are represented by ERC-20721 non-fungible token (NFT).

These LANDs can also be rented to players who want to develop their games on that particular land. The reason for renting could be its location, the benefits provided by its neighbors, better quality, or, mainly, the presence of unique ASSETs. The ASSETs are the “spice” dedicated to enhancing the entire gaming experience. They could be in-game avatars, NPCs, enemies your hero needs to defeat in an RPG adventure, or any other special element that can further increase a dedicated LAND's uniqueness. 

The more unique ASSETs a LAND has, the more the price of such a LAND will increase. A LAND with high uniqueness will grow in price, and its possible renting revenues from a standard LAND will be significantly different.

The Sandbox metaverse provides ASSETS of common or premium quality with the additional possibility to further enhance, tune, and change its default behavior. Standard ASSETs can be created by players called Artists. Artists can create those ASSETs using The Sandbox dedicated software VoxEdit, and upload them to the ecosystem Marketplace. There, other players can buy the ASSETs using the ecosystem’s main cryptocurrency, called SAND.

Artists can thus monetize their aesthetic craft and obtain a reward in the SAND cryptocurrency, which can be used further in the metaverse, or exchanged for a fiat currency.

To this moment, Premium ASSETs, on the other hand, can be obtained only with a Premium LAND purchase during a special event. Prices of these lands are higher when compared to standard ones, but since they provide a player with Premium ASSETS, the essence of possible gain in the value with time is imminent.

Since we have a picture of what the LAND and ASSET is, the final piece to this puzzle is the main ecosystem currency called SAND, used in all possible transactions, trades, staking, voting, and exchanging across The Sandbox universe. In other words, to buy ASSETs and common or premium LANDs, a user needs to have the SAND currency first.

All transactions of LANDs and ASSETs are paid with SAND. In addition, SAND can also be used for staking and voting.

SAND is a vital aspect of The Sandbox's investment purposes. As The Sandbox popularity expands and reaches its full potential, the price of this cryptocurrency is bound to rise. This is also dependent on the entire crypto market situation where SAND is subject to volatility just as other currencies are. Nevertheless, from the point of the investor, it is better to buy the currency early and invest it in the premium LANDS, which are limited, and also stake the currency to mint additional coins, with the intention to monetize on its possible gains in the future.

Before further elaborating about how to invest in The Sandbox blockchain-based ecosystems, let's take a closer look at its parts; one piece at a time.

Parts of the gaming ecosystem

This section summarizes the crucial aspect of the ecosystem with its basic use. 

LAND

LANDs, represented as an in-game space for creation, are blockchain-backed tokens (using the ERC-721 standard for non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs) that represent the land lots of The Sandbox Metaverse. Each LAND  comes with pre-built default terrain that can be terraformed and modified by the owner or another player authorized by the owner. LANDs allow players to own a portion of the Metaverse and thus be able to host content (ASSETS and GAMES).

LAND ownership will allow the user to:

  • Secure desirable locations from the finite amount of LAND in The Sandbox
  • Participate in The Sandbox gameplay and metaverse governance
  • Host games, events, or any experiences using owned LAND
  • Earn SAND by hosting gameplay, organize contests and events, or renting the owned LAND to other players

One LAND is a place suitable for one game, with 96x96x128 in-game meters of play space. It is possible to design larger games, taking up 2x2 LANDs. The Sandbox wishes to continue with enlargement of the land lots and the creation of even larger games as the development continues.

Larger LANDs can be assembled from multiple  LANDs, allowing a user to create larger games. These large LANDs are called ESTATEs and are distinguished based on the number of LANDS they are assembled with.

ESTATE S: 9 LANDS

ESTATE M: 33 LANDS

ESTATE L: 144 LANDS

LANDs can be purchased during LAND sales. It is worth noting that there is a discount on LANDS when bought as ESTATES. Keep in mind that when a LAND is traded, all its contents and ASSETS are included in the trade.

Following on this, LAND has a maximum cardinality of 166,464 pieces - there is only a finite amount of the represented by its NFT LANDs tokens, and minting more is not possible. Thus, The Sandbox Metaverse is composed of 166,464 LANDS, in a square map of 408x408.

  • 123,840 LANDS (∼74%) are available for sale in total.
  • 25,920 LANDS (∼16%) will form the Reserve, that will be distributed to partners, creators, and gamers as rewards.
  • 16,704 LANDS (∼10%) will remain the property of The Sandbox. They will be used to host special events, feature exclusive games, and ASSETS.

ESTATES

LANDs can be combined together to form ESTATES (respecting specific quad sizes such as 3x3, 6x6, 12x12, 24x24 ). In the future, ESTATES will have the potential to be owned by multiple players to form DISTRICTS.

When buying LANDs as an ESTATE, a discount is applied.

SAND

SAND is an essential part of The Sandbox platform, firmly established in the fundamental mechanics that makes it intrinsically tied to The Sandbox platform and its value.

SAND is an ERC-20 utility token built on the Ethereum blockchain that serves as the basis for transactions within The Sandbox, and has the following uses:

  • Access The Sandbox platform: Players spend SAND in order to play games, buy equipment, or customize their Avatar character—and can potentially collect SAND through gameplay. Creators can spend SAND to acquire ASSETS, LANDS, and through Staking. LAND Sales drive demand for SAND to purchase LANDS. Artists spend SAND to upload ASSETS to the Marketplace and buy Gems for defining Rarity and Scarcity.
  • Governance: SAND is a governance token that allows holders to participate in Governance decisions of the platform, using a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) structure. They can exercise voting rights on key elements of The Sandbox, such as Foundation grant attributions to content and game creators, and feature prioritisation on the platform Roadmap. SAND owners can vote themselves or delegate voting rights to other players of their choice.
  • Staking: Staking is a process in which a user locks the tokens in their possession into a contract that The Sandbox owns. The Sandbox uses a nominal value of the staked tokens, but the owner is still in full possession of their tokens, and is rewarded with regular dividends. Staking is, therefore, very similar to putting money into a savings account in a bank. Staking in The Sandbox is done using SAND, which in turn allows for passive revenues on LANDS: you get more SAND by staking it. This is also the only way to get valuable Gems and Catalysts, needed for ASSET creation.
  • Fee Capture model: 5% of all transaction volume carried out in SAND tokens (Transaction Fees) shall be allocated with 50% to the Staking Pool as rewards for token holders that Stake SAND tokens and 50% to the ''Foundation.''
  • Foundation: The role of the Foundation is to support the ecosystem of The Sandbox, offering grants to incentivize high-quality content & game production on the platform. To date, the Foundation has funded over 15 game projects and granted 100 artists to produce NFTs ahead of the public Launch in December 2020. The overall valuation of the metaverse grows through the valuation of all games funded by the Foundation, creating a virtuous circle to enable funding for bigger games.

SAND has a maximum of 3,000,000,000 tokens, being rolled out incrementally over 5 years. SAND tokens have a large variety of uses coming with The Sandbox future development, and the team uses SAND to reinvest in their developers.

The image below describes the circulation and recyclation of gathered revenues from LAND sales, and all Marketplace transactions to help attract developers and pay developers to create engaging content in the Metaverse.

  • For additional information, read the Tokenomics article here.
  • For information on how to obtain the SAND tokens, read the How To Get SAND tokens article. 

ASSETS

ASSETs bring the aspect of trading goods and collecting purpose into the game. Users can use them directly as an Avatar, decoration, in addition to your hero, or to everything you own.

I started with animations of characters and animals to fill The Sandbox Marketplace store. What is expected of my work is usually maintaining aesthetic quality and giving an attractive life-likeness to each character. To do so, I create all sorts of animations, so that something as common as "eating" looks unique for each of them.
Sellanes.Gonzalo - The Sandbox Artist FreeLancer

This ASSET excavator, created by Sellanes.Gonzalo, is featured in the Space & Sci-Fi mission theme on the Planet Rift game and will be used to dig up rare resources, deep underground. Planet Rift is an upcoming Title in The Sandbox, a part of the Game Makers Fund and is known as one of the currently most anticipated games.

Artist

Anyone can apply to become an official team Artist at the fund.sandbox.game website. As an Artist, you can be paid for ASSETs you create, which can be published on the Marketplace, now for free and later using SAND. The Sandbox Marketplace is represented by the  OpenSea Internet auction, and right now, users can exchange their ASSETs for Ethereum.

When the Marketplace will be fully released, the public will be able to publish ASSEts to the Blockchain in exchange for Gems and Catalysts, which are currently only obtainable through the staking of SAND using The Sandbox platform, when owning LAND. Thus, the Marketplace will be the alternative way of getting Gems and Catalysts, which creates a  crucial part of The Sandbox economy and overall gaming experience.

In-game assets

ASSETs are additional elements to the virtual world of a Sandbox game, such as player Avatars, NPCs, enemies, decorations, and so on. Many of the ASSETs have customizable traits and mechanics, such as behavior.

Examples:

  • Doe: Ground Herbivore — will eat plants, tree leaves; will flee when it encounters predators
  • Mummy Enemy: Enemy Fighter — will attack heroes upon encounter
  • Spider: Ground Predator — can patrol on ground, detect and attack prey within a given range
  • Dragon: Enemy Fighter — will attack users avatars upon encounter

These in-game ASSETs come with a default behavior set, which allows users to just drop them into a LAND and see them in action. For instance, a bird will be assigned a flying behavior whereas a fighter NPC will have an attack behavior. On top of that, to add to game complexity, an ASSET can be compatible with various behaviors and have multiple uses.

The Sandbox metaverse provides ASSETS in two quality categories:

  • common
  • premium - rare, epic, legendary

Users can upgrade those ASSETS and further modify them by Catalyst and Gems.

Catalyst and Gems

Catalysts and Gems are Sandbox’s other ERC-20 utility tokens burnt on usage. Catalysts define your ASSET’s tier and scarcity displayed on the Marketplace, while Gems determine your ASSET’s attributes in conjunction with the Catalysts.

ASSETS have finite cardinality of copies that can be minted depending on their rarity:

  • Common - Maximum 20,000 copies
  • Rare - Maximum 4,000 copies
  • Epic - Maximum 1,500 copies
  • Legendary - Maximum 200 copies

Similarly to World of Warcraft, where Legendary equipment has sockets waiting to be filled with gems, the Sandbox Catalysts adds empty sockets to a user`s NFTs (tokens that represent the particular ASSET) that can be filled with Gems. With the increasing quality of the Catalyst, the number of sockets usable for the ASSET also increases. In other words, the higher is the tier, the higher is the scarcity, and the more powerful and wanted the ASSET becomes.

  • Common Catalyst: 1 Gem socket, up to 25 Attributes; 20,000 copies 
  • Rare Catalyst: 2 Gem sockets, up to 50 Attributes; 4,000 copies 
  • Epic Catalyst: 3 Gem sockets, up to 75 Attributes; 1500 copies 
  • Legendary Catalyst: 4 Gem sockets, up to 100 Attributes; 200 copies

Attributes define an ASSET’s main stats that will be displayed on the Sandbox’s game experiences. The more attributes the ASSETS have the more useful you’ll find them within the Sandbox, and thus incrementing its value.

One Gem provides up to 25 attribute points to an ASSET, and with further use of Catalysts, a user can socket up to 4 Gems with a maximum of 100 attribute points.

In order to add a Catalyst token in an ASSET, it must first be uploaded to the Marketplace through VoxEdit.

You can check out some additional resources on Gems and Catalysts in these two articles:

Monetizing on user experience with The Sandbox

In this section, I will summarize the above-mentioned aspects with the focus on their monetization potential.

LAND

Much like real-world real estate, users can sell rent or exchange their LANDs. As you already know, the uniqueness of the LAND improves its business potential.

Examples:

  • Purchasing LAND in unique areas will benefit from the bonuses obtained from its neighbors, like better visibility, region attractiveness, and better portal distribution.
  • Purchasing and upgrading LANDs with additional ASSETs can provide a lot of SAND tokens in a later sale.
  • Renting owned LAND to other players and hosting the games and events is a good start to acquiring more ingame money.

SAND

You can generate SAND tokens, and thus also their equivalent value in fiat currencies, in the following ways.

  • Token obtaining by playing a game. SAND tokens can be acquired by playing a specific game, participating in events, or winning in a contest. SAND tokens can be also sent to a friend as a gift or help at the start.

Investing in the primary token and holding on the exchange 

  • This one is a classical investor approach but without other benefits bounded with the game, but allows to use the funds on the Binance exchange and swing trade, accumulate, and save for later use. SAND tokens can be purchased on the Binance exchange in all their main trading pairs.

Token staking using Uniswap exchange

  • Liquidity mining incentives seed deep liquidity, offering a strong trading venue for those who wish to trade and use SAND in a non-custodial manner. A user provides his tokens and its equivalent in Ethereum for trading on Uniswap exchange in a contract that brings the staker a reward in cryptocurrency obtained from trading fees of other traders on the SAND/ETH trading pair. This approach requires more funds since the SAND USD equivalent needs an investor also to stake in the ETH. So for example, 350 USD equals 10 000 SAND and 350 USD is equal to 0,8 ETH. So for the Uniswap staking of 10 000 SANDs and investors need approximately 700 USD (based on the actual ETH price).

Token staking using an owned LAND as a catalyst in the Sandbox platform

This staking generates, except the SAND tokens, Gems, and Catalyst that can be sold or used for enhancing the LAND overall value. The more LANDs a user owns, the more SAND he obtains through the staking process.

During the first Staking round in The Sandbox early staking program (which is a reward for early adopters), investors earned over 30% APY on their investment.

To start staking the SAND tokens, they need to be sent from an exchange or a user’s wallet to the user’s Sandbox account.

ASSET

Here, I will talk about how to monetize your ASSETS in The Sandbox metaverse. There are a number of ways you can do that:

    • By collecting ASSETs and upgrading them with Gems and Catalysts. All the upgraded items tend to increase in price since the rarity and finite cardinality of Epic, Legendary, or any other rare ASSET are limited. 

    The value of 350 USD

    Since the valuation proximity with the fiat currencies is important to get the basic idea, let's showcase an example with 350 US dollars and what we can possibly purchase with this investment instrument.

    Right now $350 would bring 10,000 SAND, which would, roughly speaking, provide funds for obtaining: 

    • 1 S size ESTATE  [9 LAND NFT bundle] 
    • 1 Premium LAND [1 LAND NFT plus Smurfs NFT Assets]

    One could obtain these by making a single Smart Contract deal.

    Technical analysis

    The current situation corresponds with the current BTC surge, which put SAND to its local low, allowing users to purchase SAND tokens at the upcoming LAND MoonSale with an additional discount. In the following graph, pay attention to the red line  - it marks the point where the most token sales and purchases happen.  From the current point of view, it is a good time for accumulating the tokens, while leaving some funds as a backup in case the value drops further. In addition, the current trends indicate that around the middle of November the price will once again reach the red zone, where the Fibonacci levels indicate potential future Support/Resist zones.

    Target audience analysis

    The Sandbox market is directed at fans of Minecraft and Roblox. Each of those games has over 100m users. The Sandbox developers believe it is possible to attract players from this audience to The Sandbox metaverse because of the Play-to-Earn system and a no-code approach to game creation. In addition, the similarity in the VOXEL graphics reinforces the connection to these stand-out franchises. This will turn gamers into developers and owners, and inevitably incentivize play. Furthermore, the Binance exchange supports The Sandbox project by providing liquidity, sharing the information, and buying LANDs for special events. This is very likely to strengthen the trust in future prospects of the metaverse, including the potential for profit, in both players and investors.

    Why to focus on Premium LANDS?

    A Premium LAND is a single parcel of LAND that features specific characteristics, including Premium ASSETS on top of that. These LANDS will appear as Yellow LANDS on the Metaverse map and will be defined by two main characteristics:

    • Premium Location: Each Premium LAND is located close to either a Partner, an IP, or a TSB Estate. These locations are highly likely to attract more visitors thanks to partner visibility as well as the Transportation System and the recently introduced Portals that allow players to discover new exciting LANDS and their games and travel around the metaverse. Players will arrive directly within worlds through spawn points and portals. They will be able to move to adjacent LANDS and use transportation portals to allow fast-travel between distant LANDs. Portals will allow visitors to easily explore the game experiences in their LAND — similar to the benefit of having a subway station next to your place of business
    • Premium ASSETS: A bundle of exclusive ASSETS to kickstart game creation. When purchasing a Premium LAND, buyers will also receive 4 premium ASSETS: -> one common, one rare, one epic, and one legendary ASSET. There are only 200 pieces of an ASSET with the Legendary rarity.
    • Each Premium LAND includes 1 Common, 1 Rare, 1 Epic, and 1 Legendary Premium ASSET. Each Legendary ASSET will showcase a unique set of attributes, behavior, and skins, all of which have a limited scarcity of 200 copies.
    • A total of 19,200 LANDS will be for sale = 11.5% of total LANDS
    • ≈75% of (classic) LANDs and ESTATEs (14,400 LANDS)
      + ≈25% of LANDS Premium (4,800) = 19,200 LANDS for sale
    • Premium LANDS = 4,800 LANDS + 19,200 (4*4,800) Premium ASSETS
    • Premium LANDS ≈ 2,100 SAND
    • For additional information about the upcoming pre-sale, read the article here.

    Investing example

    Now when you are already familiar with the specifics of The Sandbox metaverse, let’s see an example of an investment with no exact USD valuation.

    1. Since we know that it's always good to have some assets on the exchange, an investor could purchase the SAND tokens using the Binance exchange and keep his tokens for trading or any possible later use.
    2. If the trading volume would suggest that there is an interest in trading SAND with Ethereum pair on Uniswap, it would be good to “farm” more SAND tokens by providing the liquidy in the SAND/ETH pair,
      which needs to have an equivalent of SAND and ETH at the disposal.
    3. SAND staking, when combined with some LANDS in the user’s possession, provides an interesting return (30% of APY from the first round for the early supporters, but this number is bound to the number of owned LANDS). Thus, it would be good to focus on LAND and Premium LAND purchasing during a special event and combined it with a SAND purchase of equivalent size to that of LAND investment
    4. Then, the user can create or collect interesting ASSETS and tune them with rare gems, since there could be someone who will want to have as time will have been walking on by.

    Outro

    Since The Sandbox is designed for the game platform ownership to be handed over from the developer team to players, all possible investing action should be supported with the major fact that is playing the game and enjoying the fun. This way, LAND owners and SAND stakers will have an additional bonus from obtained Catalyst and Gems and can turn their common ASSETS and lets with those upgrades and sell them on the auction, or directly to other players.

    LAND sales that already took its place indicate a potential interest with a combination of interest of a major exchange and partners such as Atari, Square Enix, Crypto Kitties, and Shaun the Sheep signals the right directions of the way this multi-gaming Ethereum-based platform is taking.

    The security is backed by a blockchain that makes everything transparent, trackable, and NFT tokens prove and declare every user's ownership forever.

    Getting listed on various exchanges and appreciating users for their SAND staking should help to prevent market manipulation.

    As I already mentioned above, an investment should be only done when it comes to something that you love or understand, and honestly, the `hands-on` experience is the best possible way to get into that state.

    I believe that the ecosystem development is one of the most important components of the success of any crypto project and only time will show if The Sandbox will not run out of good ideas and will hold their decent status.

    Let me finish with my favourite quote from Christopher Browne who once said:

    “The time to buy stocks is when they are on sale, and not when they are high priced because everyone wants to own them.”
    • For additional information about the upcoming LAND sale, read the LAND MoonSale article.

    With all this being said, you should now be quite familiar with why should somebody invested in the blockchain gaming and why I believe that investing in virtual leases using the LANDs of The Sandbox will be profitable in the future.

    Let me end this overview and wish you good luck during your research and following investments, in which you should always invest the money you are willing to lose.

    The End

    Competition

    Aavegotchis

    Aavegotchis are crypto-collectibles living on the Ethereum blockchain, backed by the ERC721 standard used in popular blockchain games such as Cryptokitties, Axie Infinity, and Cryptovoxels. Aavegotchis possess three attributes that determine their overall value and rarity within the Aavegotchi universe -- collateral stake, traits, and wearables. 

    Decentraland

    Decentraland is a decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Within the Decentraland platform, users can create, experience, and monetize their content and applications. The finite, traversable, 3D virtual space within Decentraland is called LAND, a non-fungible digital asset maintained in an Ethereum smart contract. LAND is divided into parcels that are identified by cartesian coordinates (x,y). These parcels are permanently owned by members of the community and are purchased using MANA, Decentraland’s cryptocurrency token. This gives users full control over the environments and applications that they create, which can range from anything like static 3D scenes to more interactive applications or games.

    Enjin

    Minecraft integrations Discover pioneering games, apps, and projects made by talented developers and forward-thinking companies across the world. Use the gamedev tools you know and love to forge blockchain games with advanced design, smart growth, and better monetization.

    Axie Infinity

    Axie Infinity is a game about collecting and raising fantasy creatures called Axie. Despite belonging to the same species, each Axie has its own distinct look and abilities.

    The complete competition list - Game to Earn official site

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