The Metaverse has quickly become one of the hottest topics in crypto, tech, and gaming. Facebook recently rebranded as Meta, millions of dollars of Metaverse transactions have taken place since 2021, and a plethora of Metaverse projects and cryptocurrencies are exploding in popularity and price.
Two projects that have led the way in this surge are Decentraland (MANA) and Sandbox (SAND). Both projects have seen major growth and are considered by many industry pundits as future leaders in the Metaverse space. If you’re seeking to understand the Metaverse industry, it’s worthwhile to get to know these two projects and how they relate to each other
What Is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is an important foundational concept behind Decentraland and Sandbox. The term was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. The book describes a virtual world where users can both interact with each other and buy or sell virtual goods and real estate.
Today, the term Metaverse has remained largely true to that initial definition. The concept refers to a virtual universe that users can interact with — through games, socializing, or virtual business meetings — and transact with — thorough buying and selling virtual land, NFTs, goods, and so on.
For a more in-depth exploration of the Metaverse, check out our article on Metaverse.
The Metaverse as depicted in the movie and book “Ready Player One” (Source: Metapunk)
What Is Decentraland?
Decentraland is the longest-running crypto project in the Metaverse, and the largest Metaverse project by market cap. Decentraland offers a virtual world where users can buy, sell, and interact with digital real estate, virtual goods, and virtual services. Think of Decentraland as a virtual representation of the real world, with 3D avatars of people, peer-to-peer communication, virtual buildings, virtual services, and “real” ownership of assets.
One of Decentraland’s defining features, and the inspiration behind its name, is the project’s decentralized nature. Rather than having its operations and management controlled by a board or CEO, Decentraland is controlled by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). This allows Decentraland users to collectively govern and own the project.
Decentraland is built on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain and has two native tokens. These tokens not only serve in-universe functions, but are also a requirement for those who want to make decisions through the DAO. The two tokens are:
- MANA: An ERC-20 token used to purchase virtual items from the Decentraland Marketplace, or to purchase services, such as a virtual architect.
- LAND: An NFT that represents the virtual land within the Decentraland universe. Once a user owns LAND, they have complete control over the applications and buildings they create on the land.
Decentraland (Source: Decentraland Twitter)
What Is Sandbox?
Sandbox is a Metaverse and virtual gaming project that allows users to create, buy, sell, and monetize assets within the in-game world. By market cap, Sandbox is the second-largest crypto Metaverse project — behind only Decentraland — but the largest gaming-centric Metaverse project. Sandbox is not just one game, but a collection of user-generated games and content. Sandbox allows users to create their own games and in-game assets.
What separates Sandbox from companies like Roblox, which also allows users to create games and content, is that Sandbox provides their creators full ownership and monetization of their creations. Sandbox is currently centralized, with a central entity governing their operations; however, Sandbox hopes to follow in Decentraland’s footsteps and become fully decentralized by the end of the year.
Sandbox is built on the Ethereum blockchain, and similarly to Decentraland, has both native tokens and virtual land. Sandbox’s native token, SAND, is an ERC-20 token used for both transactions within the Sandbox marketplace and DAO governance. SAND is also used to buy Sandbox land, which is primarily used to host games. Although users can freely create games, they must purchase land in order to publish a game for public usage.
Sandbox (Source: VOI)
Decentraland vs. Sandbox: What Are the Similarities?
A simple but important characteristic of both Decentraland and Sandbox is that both are Metaverse projects. Thus, investors looking to gain exposure in the rapidly-growing Metaverse industry can do so by investing in either of these projects.
Both projects have created a limited supply of virtual land. And in both projects, this land plays a crucial role within the function of their Metaverse and the economy of their ecosystem.
Both Decentraland and Sandbox allow users to create their own in-world items, games, products, buildings, and more.
Both projects allow for the monetization of in-world items, land, and assets through their native tokens. Decentraland allows users to buy and sell land and virtual items with MANA, and Sandbox allows users to buy and sell land and in-game assets with SAND. Both MANA and SAND can then be traded on various exchanges for other cryptos, such as US Dollar Tether (USDT).
Comparison of MANA and SAND price charts (Source: Wallet Investor)
Decentraland vs Sandbox: What Are the Differences?
Decentraland is a virtual world aiming to replicate the real world and provide users with the ability to socialize, work, and play in a virtual environment. Sandbox, on the other hand, is focused on the development of a user-generated and user-owned gaming ecosystem. That being said, the purpose of the two projects will likely become increasingly similar as they grow and expand.
Currently, Decentraland is fully decentralized with a governing DAO, whereas Sandbox still has a controlling central entity. However, Sandbox is aiming to transition its governance to a DAO sometime in 2022.
Land Supply & Land Purchase
Decentraland has a supply of 90,601 plots of land, whereas Sandbox has a supply of 166,464. Furthermore, Decentraland’s virtual land can only be purchased from its own marketplace, whereas Sandbox’s virtual land can be bought on both the Sandbox marketplace and OpenSea (the largest NFT marketplace).
Decentraland is the oldest running Metaverse project and has been fully operational since 2017. In contrast, Sandbox just launched in 2021, and is still in its Alpha stage, meaning the full public version has yet to be released.
What Are the Benefits and Downsides of Decentraland?
Benefits of Decentraland
- An older and more established project that has been operating for years
- The first mover of the industry with an active user base of 300,000 people
- Completely decentralized and ran through a DAO
- The most popular and largest crypto project in the Metaverse
Downsides of Decentraland
- Lacks a detailed roadmap for the future
- Has heavy competition and is competing with other crypto Metaverse projects, like Sandbox, and traditional tech firms expanding into the Metaverse, like Meta (formerly Facebook).
- Expensive gas fees, as Decentraland is built on the Ethereum network
- Lacks engaging and entertaining content
What Are the Benefits and Downsides of Sandbox?
Benefits of Sandbox
- Has a strong governing team and detailed roadmap
- Is the most popular and largest crypto gaming project in the Metaverse
- Supported by more than 165 brands and backed by many major financial institutions, such as Softbank
- Operating in the lucrative and growing gaming market
Some of Sandbox’s Brand Partners (Source: Sandbox Twitter)
Downsides of Sandbox
- Not yet decentralized
- Lacks maturity and is still in its Alpha stage
- Has heavy competition and is competing with both other crypto Metaverse projects, like Decentraland, and other traditional gaming platforms like Roblox
- Expensive gas fees, as Sandbox is built on the Ethereum network
So which one is better?
Well, it comes down to each individual investor’s preference. Do you prefer an older and more established project that aims to create a comprehensive virtual reality world? Or do you prefer a newer project focused on the exciting and growing world of gaming?
Decentraland vs Sandbox (Source: Doge Finance)
Where to Buy MANA & SAND?
Both Decentraland and Sandbox have relatively popular cryptocurrencies that are available for purchase at most major exchanges. One easy way to buy these coins is to use the Phemex Exchange. Phemex exchange offers USDT spot trading pairs for both Decentraland (MANA/USDT) and Sandbox (SAND/USDT).
2. Sign up for a Phemex account, using a valid email address and password.
3. Deposit fiat currency (like USD, for example) or crypto into your account. In this case you need to either use FIAT to buy USDT or deposit USDT into your account.
4. Search for your selected cryptocurrency, in this case MANA or SAND.
5. Refer to Phemex’s live price chart (while this is not required, it’s at least recommended).
6. Specify your maximum buy price, as well as how much MANA or SAND you want to buy.
7. Confirm your transaction.
8. Your MANA or SAND will appear in your Phemex wallet. Crypto settlements on Phemex usually appear within two hours.
Decentraland and Sandbox are both leading projects in the Metaverse. Although the two projects have some major differences, they also share many similarities that make them both strong investments for anyone looking to get involved within the Metaverse industry.