Speaker Spotlight: Pixowl COO Sebastien Borget on The Sandbox and blockchain-powered games

Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 will take place on January 21st to 22nd

Speaker Spotlight: Pixowl COO Sebastien Borget on The Sandbox and blockchain-powered games

Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 will take place on January 21st to 22nd. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC London and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

In today's Speaker Spotlight we're talking to Pixowl COO and co-founder Sebastien Borget. 

Passionate for blockchain technology, gaming and education, he is a very active speaker and evangelist who spent the past eight years focused exclusively on mobile gaming, creating successful games that were downloaded millions of times.

At Blockchain Gamer Connects London, Borget will be on a panel on non-fungible tokens (NFT) Standards. Could you tell us a bit about the company?

Sebastien Borget: The Sandbox is a decentralised, community-driven platform where creators can monetise voxel assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain.

We are moving our user-created content HIT mobile game The Sandbox (40m installs, 70m worlds created and 1.2m monthly active players) to new realms with a 3D multiplayer version leveraging blockchain technology.

We're aiming to disrupt the market by providing the community of makers true ownership of their creations as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and be rewarded for their participation into the ecosystem.

Our platform offers a Voxel Editor allowing anyone (kids included!) to make 3D assets, a marketplace for trading and selling them and finally the game to use them.

What does your role entail?

I manage the operations of our international (45 people) team and supervise the production, live ops and marketing of the company's main titles.

This includes the popular creation game The Sandbox launched in 2012 and its sequel The Sandbox Evolution (40m installs to date), the new decentralised platform on the blockchain as well as the character-driven, mobile city builder games (Snoopy Town and Goosebumps HorrorTown).

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

Apple and Android operating systems reopened a whole world of opportunity for video-gaming. Making video games was no longer something reserved to large team and studios with multi-million dollars budget, developing triple-A games for PC or console. It was accessible again to us, indies!

From this moment on, I wanted to make a game that would create a community of players and involve them into creating with us. Our vision with The Sandbox has always to become a leading mobile gaming creative platform where, ‪#‎Players‬ are #‎Makers‬, sharing pixel worlds, pixel art, game levels, music and much more!

With our third edition of The Sandbox, in 3D, multiplayer and using Blockchain, we think we are all the chances of competing against Minecraft and Roblox; offering a unique experience where players will truly be owning their creations and be able to monetise fully them.

This is the disruption we are bringing to the established leaders in The Sandbox.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

The mobile games industry is extremely competitive. Making a successful game is not just about being creative and having a nice-looking game.

It’s about excellence in execution, in data analysis, in understanding who is exactly your audience, in engaging a community of players with it, on elaborating a smart marketing strategy and creating a product that is both visually compelling but also and mostly engaging enough to retain players for several weeks.

And the cherry on top of the cake, that is performing well enough to drive the kind of revenues to keep your company running.

Luck can be part of the game, but it only works if all the above ingredients are also present.

And now there is the blockchain gaming industry and I think we are living a very exciting moment for the blockchain gaming industry as there are no more than a hundred companies in the space thus far, out of the hundreds of thousands of games studios that exist globally.

This is the perfect time to enter this market, but also to think that blockchain itself is a technology and not a finality; so you need to create great games and not forget where the games industry is coming from and all the experience acquired just because you're entering this new market.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

It's been a very interesting 2018 year so far and several games have been announced (including our own project The Sandbox) with the promise of both delivering high-quality graphics/visual experience but also offering something fresh to the industry: letting players truly own their items and be able to make money through their skills and efforts in games!

Some studios have announced towards the end of 2018 raising major rounds of investment to build platforms for developers (or creators in The Sandbox's case) and this is very exciting for 2019; as it will lead to more games being made thanks to these platforms and tools.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

Many game studios are currently experimenting with blockchain and what type of new gameplay could emerge naturally through the technology.

At the same time, I am confident that we will progressively see upcoming big hit games on the blockchain – comparable to the Angry Birds, Clash Royale, Candy Crush or Hearthstone into major gaming categories such as MMO, RPG, FPS, Strategy and Casino games. The trend may be more hardcore games at first then progressively more casual and mainstream titles.

After the tremendous success of CryptoKitties, the next generation of games is only starting to hit the market as of 2019 and we shall see an increasing number of games leveraging blockchain technology while creating very engaging game experiences.

This includes both games that are fully on-chain games (meaning that almost all in-game actions involve a transaction on the blockchain) or mostly off-chain games with their assets on the blockchain (offering a gaming experience that can be played without any knowledge of what blockchain is).

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

I've been in the mobile games industry since 2011 and now both in mobile/F2P and blockchain gaming. I love to see the mass-adoption of new technologies and how we are opening new markets of players.

It takes time of course but I'm very bullish that this is a very exciting time to be in into this industry!

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

The Blockchain Gaming Track of course.

Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects London 2019 on the website.