‘Metaverse’ Hasn’t Become a Global Phenomenon, Says Pioneer

AFP
Sebastien Borger, French co-founder of decentralized gaming virtual world The Sandbox, says his creation is a hub of “creativity and experience.”

Yasin KHIRI
Agence France Presse

Paris, France (AFP) – Big brands rush to metaverse but the path to profit is still unclear and mass adoption could be years away, Sebastian Borge, one of the sector’s biggest players, told AFP.
Borget is the co-founder of The Sandbox, a platform that started life as a mobile and PC game but is transforming into a virtual world where anyone can buy land in the form of digital tokens.

Fashion brands such as Gucci and Adidas, financial companies Axa and HSBC, and Warner Music have already chosen a place for themselves in The Sandbox.

“First of all, this is a place for creativity and experience,” said the Frenchman Borger, distancing himself from the idea that this is just a commercial enterprise.

“Brands don’t go there to monetize, we don’t know how.”

Enthusiasts are convinced that in the near future, Internet users will be shopping, chatting with friends or going to concerts on platforms like The Sandbox or its archrival Decentraland.

Users will put on virtual reality headsets, buy and sell cryptocurrencies, and all their transactions will be stored in the blockchain – a kind of digital ledger.

At least that’s the theory.

– Digital owners –
The sandbox is still largely a quest game, with players jumping across landscapes illustrated with blocky graphics, collecting treasure and defeating enemies.

Players are also encouraged to build their own worlds and invent games.

The metaverse version, in which players basically do the same but can earn cryptocurrencies and buy additional kits for their avatars, was only open to the public for special events.

Around 350,000 people visited during its last opening in March, Borjet said, a far cry from his goal of attracting “hundreds of millions”.

“We hope to achieve this within five to ten years,” he said.

But the public remains skeptical of the metaverse and the broader web3 phenomenon — the idea of ​​a blockchain-based internet focused on individuals rather than major social media platforms.

Cryptocurrency trading is at the core of the commercial side of web3, but the underlying coins are highly volatile and transactions can consume massive amounts of power.

The crypto ecosystem is largely unregulated, has severe security flaws, and little insurance, leaving users vulnerable to scams and scams.

But Borget is confident that offering space for people to connect, trade, play – and most importantly, own their digital footprint – will win.

“For the first time, users have ownership of their digital content,” he said.

“The avatar, the wearables, the equipment, the land, the houses… everything belongs to them. They can use it however they want.”

– First Followers –
Despite its focus on social and creative aspects, The Sandbox has a clear commercial motive.

He takes a five percent commission on all transactions and also makes a profit from the sale of virtual land. Its revenue last year was $200 million.

Many large companies have joined the project, and Borget stressed that The Sandbox offers a total of 166,464 pieces of virtual land.

“This map has a finite number of plots, which is not the case for all decentralized virtual worlds,” Borget said.

“We’ve sold 70 percent of them so far.”

The company’s virtual earth sales topped $500 million last year, and Borget said his metaverse holds 64% of the market.

But Borget said brands are still looking for the best way to grow their virtual stores and offices.

“Brands have been slow to embrace the Internet,” he said.

“With web3, they try to get in a little earlier so they don’t repeat their past mistakes.”

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