Two crypto projects have benefited more than any others from the Metaverse hype: Decentraland, with the native MANA token, and Sandbox, with the native SAND token. But what are the differences between Decentraland and Sandbox?
Decentraland launched in 2017, and at the time was the first fully decentralized virtual world in existence, so it’s something of an O.G! The project’s main aim was to improve popular games like Second Life, where players could purchase property but without demonstrable proof of ownership, and with the possibility of having their account frozen by the owners of the game.
Decentraland solved this problem by bringing real ownership to digital land in the form of LAND NFT tokens that are securely stored on the Ethereum blockchain. When you buy land in decentraland, you truly own it, and that ownership is recorded on the blockchain! There are 90,601 parcels of land on the platform, and it is sold in “Dutch auction” style, where the price begins super high before coming down gradually until a buyer jumps in.
Real estate and “wearables” to customize your avatar can be purchased on Decentraland using the MANA coin, which is burned after purchase, making MANA a deflationary currency.
Besides digital home and property ownership, Decentraland users can build or visit art galleries, play football, gamble MANA or DAI in the casino, or open a store to sell items to other users. Decentraland may have a limited supply of land, but it's virtual universe is still huge, and at times you can find yourself wandering alone in many of the impressive buildings.
The best way to approach Decentraland, at least for now, is to stick to smaller communities and participate in events like casino nights, meetings, or even virtual AMAs with crypto developers.
Although there are many games and activities in the Decentraland world, the general experience leans more towards socializing. The Sandbox takes a different approach. The Sandbox originated as a mobile phone game in 2011, before moving onto Ethereum in 2020 to reap the benefits of blockchain technology and decentralized governance.
Like with Decentraland, owners of virtual land can develop their plots as they wish, building attractions, charging admission and hosting events and parties. There are 166,000 plots of land in total, and plots can be combined to form larger estates.
Sandbox is definitely more game-orientated than Decentraland, offering separate, closed worlds which contain custom-made gaming experiences from those who build on the platform. Gaming tools include a 3D Voxel modeling package and a marketplace from which participants can buy and sell game assets.
SAND tokens are used within the Sandbox ecosystem to buy these items and pay for rent and experiences. The SAND token can also be used to participate in community governance and to stake on the platform, with half of all transaction fees being awarded to stakers.
Which game is better depends on your personal preferences. The Sandbox has a retro, pixelated look - kind of like Minecraft - that contrasts with Decentraland’s slightly more slick and modern style. If you’re a fan of NFT art and virtual networking you might enjoy Decentraland’s many galleries and meeting spaces. The team is also working to bring even more artists and influencers to the platform, for live NFT sales and NFT drop parties. If you’re a fan of mobile gaming and need something a little more action-packed, The Sandbox might be for you, as there are plans to launch on Xbox and Playstation, and to have over 5000 games on The Sandbox by the end of 2023.
Whichever one you choose, both Decentraland and The Sandbox are super cool examples of the potential of blockchain gaming, and perhaps the most exciting thing is that the innovation is only just beginning.