What Is the Sandbox and How To Get Started

Here's a step-by-step guide on what you need to know to explore and play in The Sandbox metaverse.

AccessTimeIconMay 23, 2022 at 7:46 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:21 p.m. UTC
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Gaming and crypto are increasingly getting mixed up with terms like “metaverse” and “play-to-earn.” If you want to check out this new world but you don’t know where to start, the answer could be a crypto game called The Sandbox.

Your first steps in The Sandbox

First, go to The Sandbox site on any browser. As usual with blockchain projects online, the first thing you’ll be asked to do when you enter is to connect a crypto wallet. If you don’t have one, don’t worry: they are easy and free to create.

This piece is part of CoinDesk's Metaverse Week

You don’t necessarily need to have any crypto tokens in your wallet to get started on The Sandbox. You just need a safe place ready to receive the tokens you might earn.

Next, you have to supply an email address and choose a nickname.

You’ll be prompted to create an avatar and customize different body parts: hair, top, legwear, shoes, etc. You can look very different than you do in real life with blue or green skin or try to make an avatar that looks something like you. The biggest problem you'll face at this step is indecisiveness, given there are so many choices.

Sandbox avatar
Sandbox avatar

Now that you have an avatar, you’ll find The Sandbox world is structured according to a map, for ease of navigation. You can see all the plots of digital land in the world and click whichever interests you. This geographic style of presentation of projects-within-the-project is pretty standard for metaverse games.

If you run your cursor over the map, you’ll see that a lot of the things there are “experiences,” typically games with levels to be completed. They’re designed by your fellow players, not by the developers behind the environment itself. You’re likely to see pop-up boxes announcing you have completed “0/15 quests.” If you want, you can just jump straight into one of the quests. Before you’ll be able to, you’ll be asked to download The Sandbox client software to do so which is a free and quick process.

Sandbox map
Sandbox map

Naturally, you can start doing more things faster if you invest some of your own money. For instance, you can start designing your own game. But don’t worry, if you are not comfortable or ready, you can just start playing without investing any money. It’s best to explore and research as much as you need to understand the experience and if it’s worth your investment.

Sandbox screenshot
Sandbox screenshot

The Sandbox graphics have been compared to the globally popular game Minecraft, given its boxy aesthetic. Those cubic components of the world are called “voxels.”

What is The Sandbox?

The Sandbox is an open-world online multiplayer game, where players compete to earn non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It’s part of a breed of online games that have gained in popularity in tandem with the hype around NFTs. Another is Decentraland.

The Sandbox has actually been around for much longer than the NFT boom – they've been putting out games for mobile devices since 2011, with no blockchain element at all. It was only in 2018 that the company pivoted towards blockchain.

The substantial advance of The Sandbox’s move to the blockchain is that players can trade the things they build in the game and make their ownership verifiable outside the game environment. You don’t need the developers to say you own your Sandbox creations. It is recorded indelibly in the blockchain.

Earning SAND tokens

The project’s utility token is SAND. You’ll need it to buy anything else. It was originally made on the Ethereum network but began transitioning to Polygon in 2021, along with the whole Sandbox NFT ecosystem. The project cited environmental reasons for the switch, saying it could reduce its carbon footprint.

SAND is also used for staking on The Sandbox network on Polygon, meaning that holders of the token can participate in verifying transactions on the network if they deposit their tokens temporarily. They are rewarded for doing so with more SAND tokens. As of May 2022, The Sandbox said almost $100 million in value of SAND tokens were locked in staking.

LAND tokens for building

After SAND, you’ll want to think about LAND, which is required in order to build anything within the game. There is a fixed supply of LAND tokens: 166,464. That means, in theory, if user numbers and public interest in the game continue to grow then the value of those LAND tokens should increase.

Once you have LAND, you can get creative. For one thing, you can make your own games-within-the-game using freely downloadable Game Maker software. If you want, you can do this in cooperation with other players. You can also create visual artworks using VoxEdit, software which describes itself as "the leading software that allows you to create, rig and animate your own voxel-based NFTs."

The items that you create this way are given blockchain tokens called ASSETs, this makes them tradable and they can be turned into NFTs. These tokens can have other tokens called GEMs and CATALYSTs attached to them, affecting their value. But this is something you can delve into once you've gotten started – you may not be interested in this aspect of The Sandbox at all.

The final thing to note about LAND is that you can also rent your LAND out to other users. This means you can earn a passive income from it while others get a chance to be the creative ones.

Alpha Season

The Sandbox Alpha Seasons are open, multi-week testing events that give players an opportunity to experience new functions. Alpha Season events are open to all players with a Sandbox account. The platform also offers NFT tickets called Alpha Passes, which allow players to access all experiences offered during Alpha Season, in addition to other rewards.

The platform released its Alpha Season 1 in November 2021, Alpha Season 2 in February and Alpha Season 3 on August 24. The latest event offered access to over 90 experiences over 10 weeks from brand partners like Bored Ape Yacht Club and Atari.

One last note: You don’t need a lot of technical know-how to do any of the above. The software that The Sandbox employs is supposed to be accessible to amateurs, so don’t be put off if designing a video game or creating an NFT sounds beyond your skill level. The best way to find out is to just explore and play around within the environment and see what else you want to try. You might find it easier than you expect.

More from Metaverse Week:

Rather than letting players port weapons or powers between games, non-fungible tokens will more likely serve as building blocks for new games and virtual worlds.

Highly prized plots of land are fetching fortunes on the biggest platforms. How do the economics of metaverse real estate stack up?

The future possibilities of the metaverse are presumably limitless, but is there anything you can do in the metaverse right now?

This article was originally published on May 23, 2022 at 7:46 p.m. UTC


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Benedict George is a freelance writer for CoinDesk. He has worked as a reporter on European oil markets since 2019 at Argus Media and his work has appeared in BreakerMag, MoneyWeek and The Sunday Times. He does not hold any cryptocurrency.

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