Rene – Hi! Welcome to Meta Minutes, your bite-sized pieces of the metaverse. My name is Rene from Valorem Reply and today we're going to talk about the decentralized metaverse with Web3. And I'm honored to have a special expert guest today for this Sebastien Borget. Hi Sebastien and welcome to the show. How are you today?
Sebastien - Hi Rene. I'm great. Hi everyone, good to be here with you.
Rene – Awesome! Well let's get started with a personal intro. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as it relates to decentralization metaverse and the related things?
Sebastien - Of course. So well I'm 37, actually, I've been an entrepreneur for almost 15 years now. I'm also the president of Blockchain game alliance which is an organization that now counts well over 400 members in the video game industry that like promoting the adoption of blockchain. I'm also the CEO and co-founder at Sandbox, which is this decentralized gaming virtual world where anyone can make 3d content and all sort of experiences and own them and monetize them for the use of blockchain and NFTs. I actually always have been passionate about new technology. So, as far as I remember, back in 2007 even though, even when I started with my co-founder Archer Madrid our first start-up we were already doubling with peer-to-peer technology bit torrent. I was like an open-source developer back then. We sold that company two years after, and the second company was in like web 2multimedia streaming cloud storage. Even before it was called cloud even before it was called streaming, there was no Netflix, no Spotify but users could upload their photos, videos, music and share those online with others. And in 2011 our third company, a mobile game studio was one of the first mobile free to play game studio that used, as well IT based game and that's when we initially created the first sandbox. It started over well 10 years ago on mobile as a game where like basically we were using new technology like touch screen to enable turning any player into a creator just by the touch of their finger and well that was a large success of this game. Again in 2017 we explored blockchain. We looked at blockchain gaming and we found that blockchain game was something quite exciting because users could finally own the asset of those games and can take them and send them to each other or sell them on marketplaces outside of those games and even potentially use those are set across different other decentralized game that use that technology. And well that's kind of the story of like how we always combine innovation to disrupt the way people use like a product and interact in new ways creating new form of entertainment, new services for more mainstream audiences.
Rene – Yeah, thank you so much for telling us already about sandbox and I already saw like a lot of growth you guys are doing and it's you're doing really well from what I can see from the outside, kind of, you know observing perspective. So I'm glad to see this but maybe let's go a little bit more generic for the first question before we dive a little bit deeper into Sandbox. It's a simple but also complex question what is the metaverse for you and where do you see the potential?
Sebastien – Well, for us the metaverse is really like myriad of virtual worlds where us human beings can access through an avatar. That avatar is like with 3D representation or ourself, we can access all those experiences that will be more fun, more social, more creative, more immersive, new format of entertainment as we were discussing before but what's unique here and unlike what we've seen before is that avatar that represents your identity, whose digital assets that you create yourself with, the tool of the platform or that you earn as you play and engage on the platform and even the currency that you use on platform, they all belong to you. They are on your wallet and you can take them away from the world, you can transfer them to other users. You can use them on marketplaces outside of those games. Essentially, you can carry your digital identity and all your digital content from one world, from one of those worlds to another. That's really the seamless experience that I believe constitutes the open metaverse as opposed to existing virtual world and games we've seen for a long time from, I don't know, from second life to world of warcraft, even animal crossing or Roblox or Fortnite, where you are locked on the platform, like your avatar cannot go out where outside you cannot exchange the content outside or sell it on other marketplace. Those are centralized wall garden economies which essentially bet on the idea that users will have more paid living and abandoning their content, their progression and their currency even though they spent real time and real money into it than benefiting as an ecosystem from this overall interoperability and transposability of assets.
Rene - So for you the key is the decentralization, right? Like, so that you also own the assets yourself.
Sebastien - That's the dream vision, even when you read about science fiction book, or science fiction movie, when you see the same character being able to move from one world to another across different applications, there's only one way to achieve it in a fair trustable manner. It's through a technology that has a public database that everyone can read, everyone can write but no one, no single party can modify the data in such way can be trusted and that technology exists today, it's a blockchain and as such indeed I believe like web3 and decentralization have realigned the incentive and have provided the framework to finally be able to establish the true metaverse.
Rene – Yep, that makes a lot of sense and and like you were saying all the big players we rather see this kind of platform game again it's like the walled garden and you know, hey, come to our platform stay here and stay there forever kind of a thing but like, that's also why I think that decentralization is a key enabler for also the big vision of the metaverse. That might not be here today, right, a lot of people still think, oh yeah, what we see today, this is not the metaverse and you know a lot of people lack the vision we need to look at the horizon. I mean we have now the building blocks all the small pieces ready but it's still in its infancy, to be honest. But what one important thing um and also when I was talking with Jon Radoff and Tony Parisi and in some previous episodes about interoperability and this is the key, right, like that we have interop even though we might have the Sandbox we might have other decentralized platforms and we might also have the big platforms from the big tech companies. But having a way to interop between those that you can, you know, take your avatar with you or that you can exchange assets between those do you also agree that this is a kind of a key element for making the true metaverse solution happen?
Sebastien - I think it's a key element and recent news are showing that I'm not the only one to agree to that there's been this metaverse standard forum organized that essentially is one step forward and well unfortunately it only gathered actors from web2 in software and hardware and it's still limited in scope in the sense that it's only considering interoperability from the file format perspective which is okay. it's the basis like okay how do we read each other 3dfiles into each other world but interoperability is so much more. Like when you think like your avatar is your digital identity, you do not just want to represent the same avatar and that's it, you want to represent like your progression, your reputation all the digital assets and the history of transaction and action that this avatar has been carrying in one world to and over. That's really an example a more complex example and that's where we're leading forward. So we're seeing the metaverse standard forum on one side, we're going to launch the open metaverse summit alliance with all the actors in web3 as well and maybe we'll join the standard forum as well so we can all contribute hopefully with one voice, towards those leads. So generally speaking, we want to achieve this but we also want to achieve this while fighting against certain principles where some actors are putting ahead much more their financial interest and being walled garden economies and monetizing users that are against their behalf with advertising. Whereas there are more user-driven, community-driven initiatives that focus on giving back the value first to the user rather than to the platform.
Rene - Yeah that makes a lot of sense and I'm in full agreement here. It's very important that the users get the power back if you will and we get it more decentralized and yeah no I'm fully with you and there are a lot of good things happening in the world of decentralized protocols especially when it comes, like, you alluded to like owning your own identity, decentralized identity and other web3 aspects. Super amazing, but also let's be honest, there's also a couple of bad things happening when it comes to crypto and NFTs and you know one might say, there is a little bit of a speculative bubble what's happening, especially in the NFT world. But do you think there's actually one do you agree and is it going to burst at some points and what else do you actually tell all the crypto critics, there are still a lot of crypto critics all over the place that don't understand, maybe the value of it and so what order, what are you telling them if they don't see the value of blockchain NFTs and decentralized metaverse platform.
Sebastien – Well, I think we have to dissociate. We need a vision of like a truly open metaverse that use blockchain technology and NFTs from like the hype and the various fluctuation of cryptocurrency like those are two different things, like the underlying model of using blockchain to create a more fair greater economy that reward creators and give them back a hundred percent or 95 of the value they contribute to. That is a long-term goal that definitely is worth pursuing. We also see, like, creating a world where, users, like a player-owned economy into a virtual world, where users own like all the, own their identity they have authorized NFC meaning like your identity is unique no one else can be or look like you, owning the land that constitutes that virtual world. Land, virtual land by itself it's a category of NFTs that hold long-term utility by itself people can understand that they can publish experiment on this digital space. They can rent it, they can monetize it as they build experience and content on it and it's not the kind of NFT just like in the real world you do not change every minute your house for a new one, try to sell, speculate on it in the metaverse as well, like you own a property that normally you should hold for a long time maybe and pass away hopefully to the next generation. So you have that on one side and on the other side indeed you have like all sorts of NFTs that include like art collectible, game items etc which might have more or less utility and have more fluctuation to pricing, also indexed based on cryptocurrency, the current market downturn anyway let’s not forget, it is affecting everyone. Like when you see stock markets falling, the whole cost or sorry the price of the roadblocks which stock share price, doesn't matter they use crypto or not crypto, that price has failed tremendously since they introduced it on the IPO. So what does that mean? Did they introduce themselves too high? Did they fail to reach their objective? Is their long-term vision wrong? No, I don't think they are, yeah, I still think they are building the same. So again, let's take a little bit backward step here and just consider like where do we bring value and how we continue to build the infrastructure, the content and the tool that will enable to come to the metaverse because behind that world there is still, and you know that very well, since yourself, you work in the space, there is so much to build tool-wise, experience-wise to bring users to a level of experience that will want to, well, that will make them want to come once and come actually more than once and that's actually the real challenge. Let's make them come more than once to this new space where they can engage and find newform of experience that they cannot yet find in traditional website or mobile application.
Rene – Awesome. Yeah that makes sense and so basically what you're telling is we need to think like for my testament. my last will, I have to include who's going to own my digital land, right, so we got to think about this folks, now if you're if you're setting up your testament, your last will, include your decentralized assets as well, right?
Sebastien - Yes maybe the best way to seal it is, like, I believe like digital, true digital ownership should be a fundamental right in the same way like physical goods, objects, property, we have that right, in most countries of the world most democracies of the world, thankfully. I think online should be the same and so there will be a generation that will grow, will get accustomed to just like any kind of online content is actually a content that they can own, they can transfer, they can sell and that means that this generation is never going to go back to content they can sell. If I make a parallel with music, it's like going to the radio tape player, when you're born with the iPod or you're born with Netflix or Spotify or specifically.
Rene - Yeah or like the hype around polaroid cameras again but it's coming back, you know, the ritual wave is always coming back so maybe that will be in 10 years or 20 years when we're fully decentralized there will be this ritual with, hey, we want to get this old stuff but anyhow, Sebastian, I thank you so much. We're already at the end of the show, I also know you're very busy today, so thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insights. That was very much appreciated.
Sebastien - My pleasure, thank you Rene.
Rene - Thank you everyone for joining us for Meta Minutes, your bite-sized pieces of the metaverse. Watch our blog and follow our social media channels, well subscribe to our YouTube channel if you want and we will see you all in the next episodes. Of course, you can always recap previous episodes and also read these episodes as a transcript on our website. Thank you so much and see you soon in the metaverse!