Ubisoft is partnering with blockchain game The Sandbox to introduce Rabbids, mischievous rabbit-like characters to the metaverse. Ubisoft joins a list of over 200 partners, including Snoop Dogg and The Walking Dead that manage a digital area in The Sandbox.
Rabbids started as side characters in another video game series. The characters quickly became popular, leading to a standalone video game series developed by Ubisoft, a TV show and a feature film that’s about to be released on Netflix. In 2020, before the non-fungible token (NFT) craze, Ubisoft launched digital collectibles of the Rabbid franchise. The initial project was an effort to raise money for the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The digital creatures that will be introduced to Sandbox’s metaverse have visually evolved from the ones launched in 2020. They are more interactive and engaging than the original NFTs. Players will also be able to use The Sandbox’s Game Maker creation tools to create their own games incorporating Rabbid IP.
Ubisoft has been conservative towards play-to-earn initiatives for a leading gaming company involved with blockchain for a while. The company runs an Entrepreneur Lab that has supported blockchain start-ups for three years and it recently joined the Hedera Governing Council. However, the partnership with The Sandbox is its first in the metaverse.
One reason for Ubisoft’s caution may be that it has seen online game trends come and go. Play-to-earn and NFTs check almost every box for hype. But Ubisoft has been more audacious compared to other incumbent game companies.
Another reason for this delayed entry is that not all gamers are happy with NFTs and the expansion of play to earn. Ubisoft launched NFTs within a mainstream game for the first time in December, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly negative.
However, there’s a possible argument that there will be two kinds of gaming audiences for the next few years – those that embrace NFTs and play-to-earn and those that don’t.
Despite the lack of positive response, Ubisoft is pushing ahead with the idea. However, it will be interesting to see if it plans to launch its own play-to-earn initiative. The partnership with The Sandbox is a relatively low risk strategy to introduce Ubisoft to the metaverse. It targets an audience already involved with the metaverse and play-to-earn, which is more receptive. From there, Ubisoft can learn more about the world of play-to-earn games. The Sandbox also hinted that Rabbids might just be the first characters from Ubisoft.
The timing of Ubisoft’s entry may not be ideal. The play-to-earn sector is closely associated with the crypto market, and the recent crypto crash has impacted games. According to Cryptoslam, Axie Infinity NFT sales were down 47% in the last 30 days, and during the last seven days, The Sandbox’s declined by 74%.
Meanwhile, The Sandbox raised $93 million in funding at the end of last year, including from SoftBank and Galaxy Interactive. The platform recently partnered with Warner Music for music events in the metaverse and with Adidas.