The Sandbox’s Animoca Brands Lays Down Web3 Expansion Plans

Key Insights:

  • Animoca Brands’ Yat Siu talks about shepherding companies into the Web3 space. 
  • Web3 and metaverse expansion could be on Animoca Brands’ cards this year.
  • The Sandbox has also actively advocated the entry of institutions and celebrities in the metaverse. 

With institutional and retail interest in Web3 and the metaverse growing, the Hong Kong-based game software company and venture capital, Animoca Brands, has laid down plans to speed up the evolution of the internet into an open metaverse.

Shepherding Firms Into Web3

In a recent interview, Animoca Brands’ co-founder and chairman Yat Siu claimed that his firm would continue to ‘shepherd companies into Web3.’ Siu has advocated the evolution of the internet into an open Metaverse for a long time. 

The Hong Kong-based entrepreneur is not very fond of the idea of closed internet dominated by large centralized Web2 companies. Instead, Siu is pro -decentralization of the internet which heads towards Web3. 

In the interview during the Australian Blockchain Week event, Siu discussed the broader aspects of Web3 for companies. The discussion was hosted by the CEO of crypto exchange BTC Markets — Caroline Bowler.

It covered several topics, including the actual value of Yuga Lab’s BAYC NFTs, the limitations of Web2, and Animoca’s ever-growing portfolio of companies and investments.

During the discussion, Siu said, 

“When you buy an expensive handbag, you buy the network effect and the story that is embedded within it. The same goes for BAYC, except you receive extra commercial rights which develop deeper network effects.”

Siu’s argument remains that decentralized Web3 platforms and digital assets like NFTs offer users a chance to maintain ownership rights over their data and content online, instead of it being controlled and utilized by firms such as Meta.

Furthermore, discussing the plans for Animoca Brands, Siu highlighted that the firm is still ‘super early’ in its long-term goal of building an open Metaverse. The entrepreneur also emphasized the importance of speeding up the process of building a decentralized space due to the risk of having larger centralized firms dominating the virtual sphere. He added, 

“You will continue seeing us take that approach as we try to shepherd companies into Web3.”

Animoca Brands Strengthing Crypto Marketing

Crypto marketing has been an effective way for projects to take the lead in the market. One of the most notable names for effectively marketing its brand is Crypto.com. The firm once again made headlines after adding FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to its list of sponsorship deals with sports to drive brand awareness.

The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has also actively marketed its brand with celebrities on board the metaverse train alongside partnerships and collaborations with institutions. 

As reported by FXEmpire, HSBC was the new corporate giant to enter the metaverse through a partnership with the Sandbox (SAND). HSBC joined a swarm of global brands working with the Sandbox, including Gucci, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, and Adidas.

With Sandbox’s crypto marketing game on point and Web3 expansion on its cards seems like Animoca Brands is set for a bright 2022.

HSBC Partners with The Sandbox, Opening Doors Into the Metaverse

Key Insights:

  • The British banking giant HSBC has made its way into the metaverse.
  • HSBC is the first global bank to enter the Sandbox metaverse.
  • The partnership aims to help the bank ‘take sports engagement to a new level.’

The multinational investment bank and financial services holding company HSBC is the new corporate giant to enter the metaverse through a partnership with the Sandbox (SAND).

Finance Giant Entering the Metaverse

One of the world’s largest international banking and financial services providers, HSBC, made the partnership announcement today.

A blog post by the firm said that the new collaboration could potentially open more opportunities for virtual communities across the world to ‘engage with global financial services providers and sports communities.’

HSBC would acquire a plot of virtual real estate in the Sandbox metaverse to increase engagement and connect with sports, e-sports, and gaming enthusiasts.

Additionally, the financial giant believes that the agreement opens the door for other global institutions to continue innovating in Web3.

HSBC thinks that increased consumer adoption calls for robust experiences in the metaverse through decentralized and gamified offerings.

The statement provided no details of HSBC’s development in the virtual plot of land. However, the firm posted a promotional GIF in the blog showing an HSBC stadium next to a virtual body of water.

The Chief Marketing Officer, Asia-Pacific, at HSBC, Suresh Balaji, said,

“At HSBC, we see great potential to create new experiences through emerging platforms, opening up a world of opportunity for our current and future customers and for the communities we serve.”

Balaji further added that the firm’s partnership with the Sandbox will allow the bank ‘to create innovative brand experiences for new and existing customers.’

Customer Engagement through Metaverse and NFTs

The Metaverse and NFT space boom has led to many multinational firms entering the space to woo customers and increase consumer engagement. HSBC joins a swarm of global brands working with the Sandbox, including Gucci, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, and Adidas, among others.

The Sandbox is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong gaming company – Animoca Brands. The firm raised $93 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in November 2021.

The Sandbox has had its fair share of social attention over the last few months. On February 17, Snoop Dogg turned the Death Row record label into an NFT label and launched Snoopverse in the Sandbox.

Furthermore, just today, Paris Hilton announced a partnership with the Sandbox wherein the singer would appear as her voxel avatar.

Apart from gaming and sport, the metaverse has attracted celebrities from the music and entertainment industry. Interest from the Music industry has been so immense that even Tencent Music (TME) and Warner Music Group (WMG) have entered the metaverse.

Ubisoft Backed DOGAMÍ To Bring Tezos Based Pet Avatars to Sandbox

Key Insights:

  • Tezos powered DOGAMÍ partnered with Sandbox to bring its NFT based dog avatars to the Metaverse.
  • DOGAMÍ also acquired land in the Metaverse to establish a community hub.

As the Metaverse expands and involves more developers and market participants, we expect to see newer things in the virtual world.

A contributor to that will be the DOGAMÍ NFTs which will become a part of The Sandbox’s Metaverse.

Metaverse Has Dogs

The partnership signed between The Sandbox and Tezos backed DOGAMÍ will enable the NFTs to be playable avatars in the Metaverse. This will be a first for the Sandbox since earlier four-legged avatars were only limited to being an ‘NPC’ (Non-Playable Character).

The interest in DOGAMÍ NFTs has already increased, with the collection having over 3.75k owners. With about 8,000 of such NFTs available, the floor price currently stands at 295 Tezos which translates to about $902.

Furthermore, the NFT collection has conducted about 41.93k Tezos ($128k) worth of transaction volume in 24 hours.

Thus, the anticipation for their arrival will certainly allure many investors to be a part of The Sandbox through these DOGAMÍ avatars.

DOGAMÍ has also acquired a 3×3 estate S-LAND in the Metaverse to establish a Community Hub through which DOGAMÍ intends on introducing the first-ever pet-friendly experience.

Commenting on this partnership, Sebastien Borget, COO & Co-Founder of The Sandbox, said,

“We welcome the DOGAMÍ pet-lovers community into The Sandbox – we are pleased to allow the Dogamers to play with their virtual dog companions. the DOGAMÍ NFTs. We hope to expand their creative universe with our no-code Game Maker creation tool, inspiring new types of adventures and experiences alongside their virtual companion. As part of this partnership, DOGAMÍ team is also unveiling the first application of a cross-chain interoperability bridge between Tezos and Ethereum. We’re really thrilled by the possibilities”

What Is DOGAMÍ?

Backed by Ubisoft, Animoca Brands, and The Sandbox, the mass-market NFT play-to-earn mobile game is an augmented reality pet simulation. The game uses AR to train and nourish their DOGAMÍs, which are essentially an NFT.

The Sandbox is already peaking for its Metaverse, with LAND rates touching a high of $10k. Having sold over 17k LAND in the last three months, Sandbox could attract more investors should such partnerships continue.

FTX Crypto Exchange Launching Gaming Unit to Encourage NFT Adoption

In an effort to branch out of crypto assets, the FTX exchange has announced that it will be launching a gaming unit that will operate as a “crypto-as-a-service” platform.

The new division will be geared towards game publishers and developers encouraging them to embrace digital assets and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). It will be operated through the American branch of the exchange, FTX.US, according to a Feb. 21 Bloomberg report. A spokesperson for the firm told the outlet:

“We are launching FTX Gaming because we see games as an exciting use case for crypto. There are 2 billion+ gamers in the world who have played with and collected digital items, and can now also own them.”

Into The Gaming World

The global gaming industry is expected to top a value of $300 billion in 2022, and it ties in with digital items and currencies which are collected and used or traded in-game. FTX (FTT) aims to harness this symbiosis by building a platform that allows game developers to launch their own tokens.

In November, the firm stated that it would join partners to invest $100 million to integrate its Solana blockchain into video games. However, the network once dubbed an “Ethereum killer” has been plagued with performance and outage issues over the past few months.

Developers and crypto companies can see this marriage as being highly profitable but gamers themselves have remained highly skeptical of crypto assets, especially NFTs. However, play-to-earn (P2E) platforms have increased in popularity, especially in countries such as the Philippines where gamers have a way to earn tokens by participating.

Speaking to The Verge, president of FTX US Brett Harrison said that blockchain technology builds upon gaming features that already exist, such as avatars, items, skins, and rewards, and makes it possible for gamers to trade, own, and invest in them.

“I think the backlash is primarily out of concern that the focus on cryptocurrency will divert the efforts of game studios away from making the best game possible for the players,”

Gamer Backlash

Detractors have pointed out that there are too many scams in the crypto space and proof-of-work mining has a heavy impact on the environment. A counter-argument to this would be that so do millions of gaming servers and power-hungry graphics cards.

The shift already appears to be underway, however. Late last year, gaming giant Ubisoft Entertainment (UBI) announced a platform that would allow players of one of its popular titles to buy and sell in-game NFTs, though hardcore gamers were still against the concept.

Earlier this month, GameStop (GME) announced plans to launch its own marketplace for NFTs and a $100 million fund for game developers who use it.

YouTube is Latest Tech Firm to See Potential in NFTs

Popular video platform YouTube believes that NFT videos are the future and will consider blockchain technologies. 

YouTube to Consider Blockchain Tech

Chief product officer, Neal Mohan, stated this in a blog post. According to him, “There’s a lot to consider in making sure we approach these new technologies responsibly, but we think there’s incredible potential as well.”

This comes only a few days after Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, hinted that the platform could adopt NFT. Then, she pointed to Web3, claiming it could be a source of inspiration for YouTube to achieve more growth. 

In the post, Mohan listed all the products, features, and tools that YouTube plans to launch in 2022. Notably, metaverse, NFTs, blockchain, and Web3 technologies are all on the list. 

In addition, the Chief Product officer claims that the platform is looking for new ways to provide its two million creators with better options and support.

He stated that Web3 and NFT could be a way for creators to develop new content and achieve more success on the platform:

Web3 also opens up new opportunities for creators. We believe new technologies like blockchain and NFTs can allow creators to build deeper relationships with their fans. Together, they’ll be able to collaborate on new projects and make money in ways not previously possible.

Institutional Interest in NFTs Continue to Rising

While brands have been lauding Web3 tech and NFTs as a solution to various challenges, the public view isn’t that optimistic. 

There’s currently a public backlash against NFT announcements by Discord, Team17, and Ubisoft.

The criticism against it is premised on it being that it’s more of a scam with no real utility. 

Many also point to mining practices and argue that NFTs and blockchain technologies ruin the environment.

However, several top brands ranging from social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit to car manufacturers like Mercedes and Lamborghini have incorporated NFTs into their products. Recently, the video platform OnlyFans launched its NFT profile picture feature. 

For YouTube, Web3 and NFT tech represents an opportunity for growth. The Alphabet-owned platform currently gets 700 million watch hours from viewers daily and is behind Google as the number two search engine in the world.

Farmville Creator Zynga To Introduce a “Dedicated” NFT Game in 2022

Blockchain and NFT based games have been noticing an increase in attention and user base ever since Axie Infinity’s success. Following in the footsteps mainstream media companies are aiming to develop similar games which can establish them in the blockchain industry as well.

An “amaZYNGA” Idea

Discussing their plans with Axios, the studio shared details about the future of blockchain gaming for Zynga. The company’s blockchain chief Matt Wolf said: 

“Things are really frothy right now. So we’re looking at the cycle and we’re figuring out where we want to jump in, but we definitely have feelers out.”

The discussions began taking shape recently as Zynga is planning on releasing a ground-up, dedicated NFT game this year. Last year’s news surrounding Farmville and Words with Friends, two of Zynga’s most successful games getting NFTs was picking up the heat.

But Matt made it clear that the studio does not plan on mixing incorporating NFTs with those two games as it could potentially confuse players.

Instead, they aim on developing a new blockchain team whose sole focus would be on blockchain and NFT games. Zynga is looking to expand this team from the current 15 members to up to 100 before the beginning of 2023.

In line with the same, last week the studio posted a job position for a Lead Game Systems and Economy Designer – NFT.

Creating economic models, exploring and providing guidance around decentralized governance as well as conceptualizing, designing, and preparing documentation for new features and content were among the main responsibilities of the position.

Going forward the studio intends on tapping the blockchain and NFT games familiar player base who are simply looking to make the most use of the NFT features. Adding to the same, Wolf stated:

“When they enter into one of these products, they come at it from an investor or, a whale, point of view and are interested in specific elements including yield. We don’t want to bring them something that they didn’t ask for, and we don’t want to assume that they want a super, super deep gameplay experience.”

Not the First One Though

Last year,  not only planned but also incorporated NFTs into one of their major games Ghost Recon Breakpoint by adding three NFTs into the game which could be resold through the platform “Quartz”.

Although the community’s response was not similar to what they were expecting, they did not bow out of experimenting with NFTs yet.

Besides gaming, NFTs themselves are already becoming a mainstream interest with celebrities and companies using it as a form of marketing and promotion.

Grand Theft Auto Publisher Sees a Future in NFTs

Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two sees the potential in Non-fungible tokens(NFT) even if it’s not ready to invest in them just yet. The company CEO, Strauss Zelnick, reportedly said this in a conversation with NintendoLife.

GTA Eyes Future in NFT

According to Zelnick, the company believes in rare goods and collectibles. It considers NFT to be real since they are digital goods, and the company has been selling digital goods for a while now. But it’s concerned about the speculation within the industry. 

He further stated that the company wants “to make sure that consumers always have a good experience every time they engage with our properties and losing money on a speculation is not a good experience, so we’re going to stay away from speculation.”

But the company remains convinced that there’s an opportunity for NFT to be part of its offerings later in the future.

The decision of the game publisher runs contrary to the general trend in the market, where several companies and brands are diving headfirst into the NFT space.

Gaming Companies Joining NFT Wagon

Many gaming companies are already in on the action or considering it. For example, Ubisoft launched an NFT platform last year.

Though the general reception from Gamers was negative, the company insists that this is an innovative step that will take users some time to adapt to. 

The general opinion of gamers on NFT hasn’t been that positive. This has prevented several gaming companies from getting involved. 

Team17 recently announced it’ll launch Worms NFT before eventually backing out. Other popular gaming companies, including Electronic Arts and Square Enix, have mentioned the potential of NFT and blockchain games as the future of gaming.

There are also gaming companies that are totally against the ideas of NFT. The developer of the Wayward Realms, OnceLost Games, has described NFT involvement in the gaming industry as likely to cause more harm than good. 

While this might be a standalone opinion, it shows that the acceptance of NFT is far from complete, even in the tech scene.

Ubisoft Proceeds with NFT Development Despite Recent Criticism

Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are becoming popular in various sectors of the entertainment industry. However, one of the areas that the use cases are growing is gaming.

Ubisoft Partners with Aleph.im

Ubisoft announced yesterday that it has partnered with Aleph.im as it looks to expand its NFT capabilities. This is according to the press release shared with FXEMPIRE and comes despite the recent criticism faced by the company.

Aleph.im, a cross-blockchain decentralized storage and computing network, has been selected as the technology partner, offering decentralized storage for dynamic NFT on Ubisoft’s new blockchain-powered platform Ubisoft Quartz.

According to the press release, players can acquire dynamic NFTs called Digits on Quartz that will be used in Ubisoft’s AAA game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Ubisoft has become the first company to enable video game players to claim playable NFTs that represent in-game assets like weapons, equipment, and more.

Jonathan Schemoul, Aleph.im Founder and CEO, said, “The incorporation of NFTs into a mainstream game is a revolutionary moment for NFTs. Dynamic NFTs have never been done before, and this marks the first time NFTs will evolve over time as various players use them in-game. Aleph.im is proud to be at the forefront of this new era where blockchain technology and decentralized solutions for NFTs play a pivotal role in traditional gaming.”

Ubisoft’s NFT Plans Comes Under Scrutiny

Ubisoft launched tokenized collectibles in online shooter Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint earlier this month. However, many of the fans termed the limited-edition digital items pointless or a cynical trend chase.

Some of the fans also claimed that Ubisoft’s effort would cause harm to the environment. However, that point can be argued as Ubisoft is using Tezos, a proof-of-stake blockchain platform that is an energy-efficient alternative to Ethereum.

Despite the criticism, Ubisoft proceeded with its plans. The company is confident that other leading gaming companies will launch in-game NFT features. The NFT space recorded more than $20 billion in transaction volume this year, a massive growth from the previous year.

The market is expected to grow even bigger in 2022 as more companies enter the scene. In the gaming world, Electronic Arts and Square Enix have all indicated the desire to launch NFT capabilities by next year.