The Sandbox
The Sandbox
Published in
9 min readJun 28, 2019



The Sandbox game franchise is one of the world’s largest independent user-generated content and gaming platforms, with 40M downloads and over one million monthly active users. The upcoming voxel-based blockchain version of The Sandbox which adds many new creative and commercial possibilities has been named one of the top 10 most anticipated blockchain games globally (source:

Life can be synthesized in one simple but accurate notion: it evolves. As humans we are driven by this natural imperative and we want everything we create to evolve and to become better, faster, stronger, safer. Technology is no exception; it too is in continuous transformation.

The Genesis of The Sandbox

The story of The Sandbox is a story of growth and evolution. It all started when our Pixowl team hired Onimatrix, whose real name is Pablo Iglesias, and started working together on adapting his personal project The Sandbox for launch on mobile and tablet devices. By that time, the game had 800,000 plays and a few thousand worlds shared. A few months after development, we had an alpha version of the title to show to Apple. Unfortunately, the meeting did not go well. However, our team kept pushing and believing in what we had created. We worked hard to make changes in the direction they suggested and finally launched the game a few weeks afterwards.

The Sandbox

A public beta of The Sandbox was launched in March 2012 and the team collected data during two months since the release from more than 1,000 players. The game was out and the vision behind it was clear: to provide users with a gaming platform that allowed them to create great pixel art.

“I wanted to make a game that would create a community of players and involve them into creating with us,” said Sebastien Borget, the COO and co-founder of Pixowl.

Since the initial launch, The Sandbox has proven to be an undebatable success, with a total gross revenue over $5M since 2012 and 5,000 new players every day. The numbers were good. So good that our game was featured in December 2012 as one of iTunes best games in the “Hidden Gems: Games” category. But The Sandbox had to evolve — and constantly remains to do so — to become what it will soon be: a one-in-a-lifetime gaming experience.

By 2016, our team had managed to create 45 updates for the game. People had created more than 1.5M online gallery worlds and logged more than 120M hours in the world. These strong numbers showed that we should continue exploiting the franchise by creating a sequel.

The Sandbox Evolution

The Sandbox Evolution was launched in June, 2016. This new version empowered players to craft worlds or destroy universes and also let them create their very own games. Within this 2D sequel of the original game, a series of key improvements were included. To start with, it had enhanced physics and side-scrolling worlds 10 times bigger than its predecessor. A very interesting refinement included in this version was the possibility to buy objects with in-game currency that players could earn by completing tasks or by creating content.

“We have developed and launched The Sandbox Evolution to bring more to our community as well as attract new members,” Borget said. “It has been four years since the launch of The Sandbox. Over those years, the game became technically limited and we were confronted with some roadblocks and restrictions on what could be done versus what we wanted to offer as an experience to the players.”

As we said before, things evolve: they get bigger and they get better.

The Sandbox Evolution is a clear example of how things can always be improved. As time passed, technology kept its natural course towards modernization. Gaming is a huge industry and as such is continuously mutating to meet the demands of its numerous users. Our community has reached more than 700k followers on Facebook and we have created more than 335k videos regarding our game, as well as a total of 70M creations to date.

As the opportunity appeared, we realized we could offer our players a whole new version of our game, this time including the newest technology in the market.

The Sandbox Decentralized Gaming Platform

By middle of 2018, Pixowl’s team announced its acquisition by Animoca Brands and shared publicly its ambitions to build a whole new version of The Sandbox. This time, it is fully in 3D, multiplayer and multi-platforms.

This version of the game aims to be the new standard in world-building games. It combines player-centric world-building experiences and character-driven narratives.

Over the last year, by moving swiftly and strategically, Animoca Brands has become a dominant force in the nascent yet important digital items space, particularly relating to blockchain and non-fungible tokens. And The Sandbox is pioneering in the space!

Welcome to the Metaverse!

Blockchain technology — the decentralized, public and immutable digital record that was originally created to support Bitcoin -- is allowing us to accomplish our vision of offering a metaverse, a collective and persistent virtual shared space where digital worlds and games will be created collaboratively without central authority.

Because game items are tokenized as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), players can transfer their assets from one game to another, retaining digital scarcity, security, and authenticity.

We believe that genuine digital ownership and cross-platform operability — which, until the rise of blockchain, have mostly been false promises — will drive significant demand for digital products and services, and grow what we think will evolve into a significant new market for digital goods based on true ownership (a market that did not even exist just a few years ago)” said Yat Siu, CEO of Animoca Brands.

Blockchains and NFTs are major pieces of the puzzle that we are solving to allow platforms to (finally) deliver the kind of value that has, thus far, been largely absent in the digital world.”

Following the huge success of the series, reaching 40M installs to date, we have here all the key ingredients to bring massive adoption of blockchain technology through the use of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) that will allow gamers to enjoy the benefits of using cryptocurrency in gaming.

This time, The Sandbox is fully 3D. This version of the game aims to be the new standard in world building games. It combines player-centric world-building experiences and character-driven narratives. The key features of The Sandbox are summarized below:

3D graphics

The graphics and design of the whole game have been enhanced, while maintaining the aesthetics of the older versions. Users will now be able to create assets, terrain and gaming experiences all in 3D.

NFTs and VoxEdit

3D user-generated content will be created through VoxEdit, a voxel editor software where artists can create their own assets. Up to this date, existing voxel games have been highly centralized, thus not allowing voxel artists to receive the full value for their work. The Sandbox is taking a unique decentralized and user-centric approach to offer more to artists and players. Thanks to this design, anyone can make or import their own 3D voxel objects, animate them and turn them into NFTs.

“Players will benefit from NFT interoperability across games, giving items a value beyond their utility based on factors such as an emotional attachment to their creator, the fame of previous owners, or track record across games.” said Sebastien Borget, COO of The Sandbox.


Our Marketplace aims to be a platform to trade, buy and sell NFTs created by our users. What is more, this open market will allow for the free trading of game items tokenized as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) between different platform users (not just users of The Sandbox). This way, players will be truly free to transfer their assets from one game to another and, as a result, will be guaranteed security, authenticity and true ownership. On top of that, creators will have total freedom to sell their assets in the Marketplace whenever they feel like it and will receive 100% of the price they set for their assets, boxes and avatars.

“The Sandbox offers everyone access to a new economic model where players and creators fully participate in the value creation chain and can benefit from the new paradigm where content is the platform,” added Arthur Madrid, CEO of The Sandbox.

Decentralized Platform

Our aim is to provide users with a community-driven game ecosystem that empowers game makers to create, publish and monetize a myriad of unique experiences on a decentralized platform with cryptocurrency payments.

The idea is to provide players with a unique platform to collaboratively create worlds and games without a central authority.

3D assets and games available as NTFs will be kept in the blockchain. This means that while the game itself remains centralized, all its content is in the blockchain. So, what does it entail? That we can now talk about true ownership of digital assets, or in other words, say that players will truly own their digital assets, which do not belong to the game developers as in existing centralized games.

I am nearing a decade working on The Sandbox and the passion to give creators new ways of expressing themselves is still in me. Now they will be able to profit from their work, it’s even better! I look forward to enjoying the experiences they’ll craft next.” said Onimatrix, creator of The Sandbox.

To sum up, our team has worked really hard and continues to do so to deliver to all the gaming community an outstandingly improved and evolved version of the classic game that has since day one proven to be a hit.

Evolution is a thing. From 2D to 3D. From centralized to blockchain. The proof of this will be seen when the new version of The Sandbox launches and it will most likely knock your socks off!

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