The Sandbox is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-headquartered blockchain gaming unicorn Animoca Brands. The game allows players to build a virtual world and monetize in-game items, which can include digital plots of land they bought or wearables they made for their avatars. The items can be traded on the Sandbox’s marketplace as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), digital assets that use blockchain technology to verify ownership.
Cheng announced on Thursday that he will invest in the Sandbox and acquire one of its largest plots of digital land. His investment in the gaming platform will be about $5 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
Cheng said his virtual world will include an “innovation hub” that showcases the business success of startups in the Greater Bay Area, a new economic zone that connects Hong Kong and Macau with nine Guangdong cities.
The 10 companies that the virtual world will feature include diagnostic and genetic test developer Prenetics, logistics unicorn Lalamove and tech accessories brand Casetify, which all have ties or partnerships with New World Development and Cheng’s venture capital firm. The startups will offer NFTs, immersive experiences and entertainment, according to a press release from Cheng’s office.
“Providing platforms for the next generation to be empowered to create, innovate and feel part of something that’s paving the way for the future is critical to progress,” said Cheng. “The digital world is constantly evolving and we need to stay at the forefront of these changes by continuously exploring and developing the metaverse.”
Cheng, the son of Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-shun, has been moving deeper into the metaverse, a digital realm that combines the technologies of gaming, social media, cryptocurrencies, augmented and virtual reality where users can interact virtually.
In May, his venture capital company C Ventures participated in a $8 million funding round for RTFKT Studios, a Los Angeles-based NFT platform for virtual sneakers and collectibles. C Ventures also led a $100 million funding round in Singapore-based crypto financial services company Matrixport in August.