The Smurfs are almost 65 years old, but they are moving with the times. Blue dwarfs now also have a village in the metaverse. ‘The Sandbox is growing as a successful city.’
The Sandbox is a young virtual world where you can buy and sell plots of virtual land and all kinds of digital devices. It is an example of the evolution towards a metaverse, a set of virtual environments in which we spend more and more time. The world is in the hands of Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands, but French co-founder Sebastien Borget is said to have a passion for comics, including ‘The Smurfs’.
“The Sandbox contacted us in 2020 to set up a project,” said Guillaume Baudoul, licensing manager for IMPS, the company that exploits the rights to the Smurfs. IMPS is owned by Véronique Culliford, daughter of the Brussels cartoonist and creator of ‘The Smurfs’ Pierre Culliford, known by the artistic name of him Peyo de him.
- IMPS, the company that manages the rights to ‘The Smurfs’, is working with The Sandbox on a virtual world where players can experience a smurf adventure.
- Discussions are underway with partners to get the Smurfs on the popular gaming platform Roblox as well.
- In the metaverse, IMPS wants to reach both 18+ and kids. That should increase brand awareness and revenue.
“The project evolved rapidly. The Sandbox team is very creative,” says Baudoul. The Sandbox is strong at attracting brands and influencers like rapper Snoop Dogg. “More brands and projects are added every day. It’s growing as a successful city, organically.”
Every day more brands and projects are added to The Sandbox. It is growing as a successful city, organically.
Sandbox is still in development and will only be open to the public for limited “seasons”, actually trial periods. A Smurfs adventure will be offered in the third season, which is expected to continue this summer. Players will help the Smurfs and their village. They are given the option to purchase an Avatar Smurf NFT. An NFT is a non-fungible token, a kind of certificate of ownership in a blockchain, a network of computers where data is stored.
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Players can also join without having a smurf avatar. But IMPS hopes that quite a few players in The Sandbox will want to go through life as Smurfs, even if they attend a Snoop Dogg performance.
The purchaser of an NFT will “actually own” the Smurf avatar in question, but not the intellectual property right. “Avatars are for gaming, not reproduction or commercial use,” explains Baudoul. ‘Next year our intellectual property will be 65 years old, we would like to add another 65 years.’
Baudoul is delighted with the way the town and the Smurfs have been portrayed in The Sandbox. “There are trees that look normal to humans, but are huge to a Smurf avatar.” IMPS also works closely with The Sandbox on what is and is not allowed in the Smurfs’ “social center”.
IMPS wants to be active in other parts of the metaverse as well. A project on the Roblox gaming platform, which is very popular with children, is being discussed with potential partners. “Hopefully we’ll be there in 2024.” With its metaverse policy, IMPS wants to reach both active kids on Roblox and those 18+ on The Sandbox. In both cases, this should benefit brand awareness and revenue streams.
The people behind the project make money. And players can own and sell their in-game items, if they wish. everybody wins
Roblox operates a commission-based business model and follows the customs of the gaming industry. A blockchain world like The Sandbox is different. ‘You can link smart contracts to everything. The people behind the project make money. And players can own and sell their in-game items, if they wish. Everybody wins.
Ease of use will be important for The Sandbox and worlds like it. For example, a user must be able to access his ‘wallet’ easily and securely. That is a digital wallet to manage cryptocurrencies.
What are Roblox and The Sandbox?
Roblox is not a game, but a platform. It allows users, mostly children and young people, to develop their own games. They are very popular with other children. The approximately 200 million users find 20 million games on the platform, mostly free. The publicly traded company Roblox is worth nearly $20 billion on Wall Street.
The Sandbox gaming platform resembles Roblox, with its blocky but detailed figures and objects. Here too, users create their own games. But unlike Roblox, they can put their digital creations on a blockchain and trade them on the marketplace of their choice. Virtual real estate is also up for sale in The Sandbox, which was valued at $1.5 billion in 2021.