Metaverse Game Backer Yat Siu Says Low User Count Isn’t Best Measure

Metaverse Game Backer Yat Siu Says Low User Count Isn’t Best Measure

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(Bloomberg) — The Sandbox, a virtual world based on blockchain, is doing just fine despite a report that the platform only had around 500 daily active users, according to Yat Siu, co-founder of Animoca Brands Corp., the majority owner of the digital game.

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Such a low user count would be shocking for The Sandbox, which has considered raising funds at a more than $4 billion valuation. The CoinDesk report used data that only looked at blockchain transactions, Siu said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. He said these transactions, which can include sales of virtual land represented by nonfungible tokens, are not reflective of overall engagement with the platform, especially considering that more users are holding onto their NFTs in order to use them in the game, rather than selling them.

To look at this metric would be comparable to claiming that “how many people trade on Wall Street is the size of the American population,” he said.

The Sandbox has more than 200,000 monthly active users, he said. Other metrics, such as the number of jobs created on the platform and how much revenue is being generated from the game, are more accurate measures of user engagement on the platform, Siu said.

“Every landowner in Sandbox has a wallet that’s between half a million and $2 million,” he said.

Siu also discussed another virtual game backed by Animoca: Axie Infinity. Created by gaming developer Sky Mavis, the blockchain-based platform, which allows players to breed and battle monsters represented by NFTs, faced a $620 million hack in March and has seen the price of the crypto tokens used in the game as well as its user numbers plummet during the market downturn for digital assets. The game has also faced complaints about its player experience.

Despite these setbacks, many gaming companies likely envy Axie Infinity’s position, especially considering its billion-dollar treasury, according to Siu. Still, he compared Axie Infinity to Angry Birds, the Finnish mobile game that soared in popularity in the early 2010s. While Axie Infinity shows the potential of blockchain gaming the way Angry Birds did for mobile gaming, he doesn’t think Axie Infinity represents the future of blockchain gaming.

Overall, Siu said the impact of crypto winter has been less severe for blockchain gaming compared to the rest of the crypto industry. While other crypto companies are pursuing funding rounds at lower valuations, Siu said Animoca’s recent $110 million fundraise, which saw participation from Temasek Holdings Pte., Boyu Capital and GGV Capital, was a flat round. He also pointed to the potential for new regulatory developments in Hong Kong that could help the industry.

“I think in a week or two, they’re going to come out with a sweeping cryptocurrency and digital assets policy that’s supposed to be very progressive,” he said, noting that he his supposed to help introduce the policy at the upcoming Hong Kong Fintech Week.

“Presumably, they wouldn’t ask me to go on stage if it was going to be bad news, so I’m optimistic,” he said.

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