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The Sandbox is a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, which recently raised $138.8 million at a $1 billion valuation and became gaming’s newest “unicorn.”
Now The Sandbox has partnered with Skybound Entertainment, the company owned by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, to bring an authentic new zombie experience to The Sandbox, which is a blocky world akin to Minecraft and Legos. To date, however, there hasn’t been a lot of dripping red blood in The Sandbox, which bills itself as a metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
“Our vision is to make The Sandbox open metaverse feel like a virtual attraction park with many amazing unique social experiences with The Walking Dead, Atari, Smurfs, and more,” said Sebastien Borget, the chief operating officer of The Sandbox, in an email to GamesBeat. “Bringing such major entertainment brands into The Sandbox means we can reach more than a billion people through them.”
The Walking Dead universe is a good fit as the zombie genre is one of the most popular game categories, and The Sandbox wanted to bring a globally known zombie brand, Borget said.
Inside The Sandbox metaverse, The Walking Dead game experience will encourage players to unite with friends and other players as they overcome the day-to-day requirements of surviving a walker-infested habitat: scavenging for food, gathering resources, building walls, nurturing relationships, making alliances, and more.
“We are closely collaborating with Skybound Entertainment on building TWD experiences that translate the spirit of the comic book series into our gaming virtual world,” Borget said.
Through The Sandbox, voxel versions of favorite The Walking Dead characters, such as Rick Grimes, Michonne, and the iconic walkers, can be combined with a horde of assets to enable users to re-create memorable comic book storylines to play through or to forge their own original adventures. Both the assets that users create and the land that they build on are uniquely identified through NFTs.
NFTs use blockchain, the transparent and secure decentralized ledger technology that can verify the uniqueness of collectible NFT digital items. NFTs have exploded in other applications such as art, sports collectibles, and music. NBA Top Shot (a digital take on collectible basketball cards) is one example. Built by Dapper Labs, NBA Top Shot has surpassed $700 million in sales, five months after going public to a worldwide audience. And an NFT digital collage by the artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million. NFTs are now selling at a rate of $23 million a week, though the initial hype around NFTs is dying down.
But The Sandbox is still going full tilt into the tech. Part virtual real-estate, part amusement park, The Sandbox fully embraces the idea of the metaverse as this continuous shared digital space where worlds and heroes collide to make rainbow-colored magic (think Ready Player One).
Skybound Entertainment’s intellectual property joins over 160 existing partnerships including deadmau5, Richie Hawtin, The Smurfs, Care Bears, Atari, Zepeto, and CryptoKitties, all following The Sandbox team’s vision of empowering players to create their own experiences using both original and well-known characters and worlds.
In addition to the dedicated The Walking Dead experience on The Sandbox map, players will be able to create their own fan-made adventures and stories featuring characters, game items, equipment, wearables, and decorative digital assets from The Walking Dead franchise — or just showcase the assets they own in a digital gallery or museum.
As a first step to bring The Walking Dead into The Sandbox’s metaverse, the team will give users the possibility to get pieces of virtual real estate close to The Walking Dead’s spot in the metaverse, enabling fans and gamers alike to be as close as ever to their brand.
The Sandbox is scheduled to launch its first public alpha test for players this summer, enabling anyone to experience a social hub and gain the power to build a fantastic collection of fantasy and role-playing adventures that can be traded with other players, creators, and artists on the platform.
“The future of The Sandbox Game Maker will enable thousands of experiences to be created, building a new game format inside the metaverse,” Borget said. “We have a dedicated gameplay team that develops avatar-centric visual experiences with gaming, fights, collecting, breeding, leveling up, and social multiplayer experiences, from weddings to cosplay parades or even exhibition openings. From intimate evenings to the most unbelievable parties, your imagination is the only limit.”
The Walking Dead will also come to life in The Sandbox on the map of its metaverse, where everyone will be able to see The Walking Dead main locationby today, and they’ll be able to buy virtual lands NFTs next to it so they can be virtual neighbors and build contiguous experiences next to it.
With over 7,600 unique land owners, The Sandbox is one of the most premium virtual real estate destinations today, and this has been supported by countless brands, celebrities, and crypto/NFT communities, Borget said.