As the hype surrounding the future metaverse mounts, Ethereum-powered crypto game The Sandbox has emerged as one of the first contenders in the industry.
And to encourage the development of metaverse projects both inside and outside the game world, The Sandbox launched an acceleration program to invest in and mentor startups.
Along with parent company Animoca Brands, a major investor in the metaverse and gaming with non-fungible tokens (or NFTs), as well as global venture capital accelerator Brinc, The Sandbox will dedicate $50 million to invest in up to 100 startups that develop in an open and interoperable metaverse.
The initiative plans to work with 30 to 40 startups a year for three years.
The Sandbox Metaverse Accelerator Program will be added as a bonus to the existing Launchpad Luna alliance that Anomica and Brinc created in 2021.
Animoca also led the $130 million investment round in December as the accelerator envisions a migration to Web 3.
While The Sandbox is leading the way, startups don’t necessarily need to be developing in the game world.
The goal is not simply to integrate creators to develop the game’s own metaverse experience, nor will it be specifically focused on Ethereum.
Instead, it will focus on the broad crypto ecosystem – on developers who want to develop interoperable platforms and pieces that can work together in an open metaverse.
The three-month online program will include mentoring alongside the investment, helping projects discover their market readiness and also connecting with partners, investors and influencers.
However, there are incentives focused on The Sandbox in this mix. The program will make an equity investment in each startup valued between $150,000 and $250,000, plus up to $150,000 in the game’s SAND token.
It will also make in-game land bonuses, or LAND, which are sold as NFT assets and can be customized and monetized in the game world.
The program also secured dozens of mentors from the crypto and gaming industry, including The Sandbox co-founder Sebastien Borget himself, and other members of the game’s team; Yat Siu, executive director of Animoca Brands; Gabby Dizon, co-founder of Yield Guild Games; Holly Liu, co-founder of Kabam; and Ada Jonuse, co-founder and CEO of Lympo.
The Sandbox already has a creators fund that rewards artists and developers working in the game world.
However, Borget had told the Decrypt who saw a growing number of people who wanted to help develop the broad open metaverse but lacked the investment or support to take the next steps.
“We saw people who want to start their own business in the metaverse and we didn’t have specific funds or foundation to support them properly,” he said.
While the show is interested in people creating things that will be used in The Sandbox, it also aims to support other metaverse projects.
For example, Decentralized Finance (or DeFi) and esports projects are encouraged and Borget suggested that a virtual real estate platform (which would include games other than The Sandbox) might be a good option.
Virtual terrain has seen an upswing in recent months in The Sandbox and Decentraland, another metaverse game developed on Ethereum.
In an open and interoperable metaverse (as Borget, Siu of Amonica and Jeff Zirlin, co-founder of Axie Infinity, discussed), platforms and tools that help a game or a metaverse platform can enrich them all.
This is why the acceleration program is not purely focused on supporting The Sandbox, even if the game benefits from the resulting products.
“We are looking at startups that bring value to the ecosystem as a whole and I believe The Sandbox will hopefully be a great place to start for them,” said Borget.
*Translated and edited by Daniela Pereira do Nascimento with permission from Decrypt.co.