Animoca's Blockchain Game Unit Raises $93 Million from SoftBank as part of the race to build the Metaverse

Animoca Brands' The Sandbox, a Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming platform, has raised more than $90 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group.

 The investment in the platform, which allows players to create virtual worlds and trade in-game non-fungible tokens (NFTs), comes as Facebook and other tech behemoths reveal their plans to create a digital realm known as the "metaverse."

The $93 million funding round is SoftBank's Vision Fund 2's first crypto-related investment, according to the Sandbox, which was announced on Tuesday. LG Technology Ventures, Samsung Next, Liberty City Ventures, and others also participated in the round.

The Sandbox, like the video game Minecraft, allows players to create their own virtual world, from creating their own avatars to purchasing digital plots of land. Players in The Sandbox can monetize all in-game items, whether it's the virtual real estate they created or the weapons they designed for the character. These items can be traded as NFTs on the platform's marketplace, which are digital assets stored on a blockchain that determines object ownership.

According to The Sandbox, the capital raised will allow the company to scale its growth as a digital entertainment destination where brands and celebrities can virtually engage with their fans. According to a statement, the blockchain gaming platform has amassed 12,000 digital land owners so far. Among the virtual world's "landlords" are American rapper Snoop Dogg, video game maker Atari, cryptocurrency exchange Binance, and the billionaire Winklevoss twins. As of November 2, the company reported a gross merchandise value of more than $144 million.

“This investment will help fuel the growth of the Sandbox creators’ economy as we expand beyond gaming into fashion, architecture, virtual concerts and shows, art galleries, museums, and more,”

Arthur Madrid, CEO and cofounder of the Sandbox, said in a statement.

“We are developing an entire ecosystem that opens new digital job opportunities for players and creators in our open NFT metaverse.”

The Sandbox's most recent funding round came as global tech titans stepped up their efforts to build the metaverse. The futuristic term refers to a digital universe in which users can interact virtually by combining aspects of gaming, social media, cryptocurrencies, augmented and virtual reality. Facebook changed its name to Meta last week as part of an effort to shift the company's focus away from managing its social media platform and toward building the metaverse. Meanwhile, according to Bloomberg, Microsoft has unveiled its enterprise version of the metaverse, which includes video chat software with digital avatars.

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