A Look at Cryptovoxels

The term Metaverse” was orig­i­nally coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. In the Metaverse hu­mans, as avatars, in­ter­act with each other and soft­ware agents, in a three-di­men­sional space that uses the metaphor of the real world. Stephenson used the term to de­scribe a vir­tual re­al­ity-based suc­ces­sor to the Internet.

Ready Player One

A more re­cent ren­di­tion of the Metaverse can be seen in the movie Ready Player One, where it is called The OASIS.

What is Cryptovoxels?

Cryptovoxels is a Metaverse that runs in your browser (and phone, and VR head­set). It uses the Ethereum blockchain to track own­er­ship of goods in its econ­omy, most im­por­tantly prop­erty. It has come a long way since the orig­i­nal trailer (above) was re­leased.

Cryptovoxels is a vir­tual world pow­ered by the Ethereum blockchain. Players can buy land and build stores and art gal­leries. Editing tools, avatars, text chat and voice chat are built in. — cryp­tovox­els.com

There are other sim­i­lar pro­jects on Ethereum, such as Decentraland and The Sandbox, but this post will fo­cus on Cryptovoxels.

Why Ethereum?

From an im­ple­men­ta­tion stand­point, there is no rea­son you tech­ni­cally need a blockchain to build a Metaverse. In fact, build­ing Cryptovoxels on Ethereum likely came with its unique set of chal­lenges.

However, build­ing on Ethereum also comes with some unique ad­van­tages. For one, it just fits the ethos. In Ready Player One the OASIS be­comes so im­por­tant that the com­pany run­ning it be­comes one of the most valu­able in the world. In fact, the OASIS is so valu­able that the cen­tral con­flict of the movie is about who owns and con­trols it.

Having Cryptovoxel par­cel own­er­ship be tracked on Ethereum pro­vides users with strong guar­an­tees that their as­sets can­not sim­ply be taken away by the cre­ators. While it is true that the en­tire game is­n’t de­cen­tral­ized, and that the cre­ators could change the game to ig­nore what Ethereum says, the fact that it is built on Ethereum shows a com­mit­ment to let­ting the users own the world.

This com­mit­ment has al­lowed Cryptovoxels to at­tract the right kind of early adopters, who have taken own­er­ship of the world in their own right. More specif­i­cally, it has at­tracted de­sign­ers, painters, mod­el­ing ex­perts, ar­chi­tects, dig­i­tal artists, etc…. These artists have done an amaz­ing job in build­ing out the world and mak­ing it a place worth ex­plor­ing and hang­ing out in.

Finally, there is at least one more tan­gi­ble ad­van­tage to build­ing a Metaverse on Ethereum: ex­ist­ing as­sets and in­fra­struc­ture. The Cryptovoxel world is highly com­pat­i­ble with the rest of the Ethereum ecosys­tem, es­pe­cially the ERC-721 stan­dard (also known as Non-Fungible Tokens).

Many users al­ready own NFTs (such as CryptoKitties), and will see Cryptovoxels as a per­fect place to dis­play and sell them. Cryptovoxel parcels are also NFTs, and so are com­pat­i­ble with ex­ist­ing ex­change in­fra­struc­ture, which means the cre­ators of Cryptovoxels never had to build an ex­change to let their users trade parcels.

What can you do?

While Cryptovoxels feels like a game, it is just an open world. There are no clear ob­jec­tives. You do what­ever you want.


Cryptovoxel Map

One of the best things to do in Cryptovoxels is to wan­der around. Every time I ex­plore, I find some­thing new and sur­pris­ing.

You can see that the map dis­plays a few is­lands and neigh­bor­hoods, such as Proxima” or Moon”. At the time of writ­ing, there are 31 neigh­bor­hoods and 4 is­lands, al­though more are com­ing on­line every week.

Area 51 CryptoKitties Frankfurt

Each neigh­bor­hood has its unique look-and-feel. In Area 51, you’ll see a lot of alien themed con­tent, and in Kitties, you’ll see a lot of ref­er­ences to and col­lectibles from the CryptoKitties game. Neighborhood build­ing re­stric­tions come into play as well, as some neigh­bor­hoods such as Frankfurt al­low for taller build­ings and there­fore have a big city vibe.

Of course, neigh­bor­hoods are just com­posed of in­di­vid­ual parcels with unique own­ers and unique builds — some more im­pres­sive than oth­ers. Take the DAI House for ex­am­ple, which is a trib­ute to the DAI cryp­tocur­rency and boasts foun­tains and spin­ning 3D DAI mod­els. Another ex­am­ple is the Token Smart Amphitheatre, which dis­plays some im­pres­sive ar­chi­tec­ture and even a cafe, or Sugar Club where peo­ple go to lis­ten to mu­sic and dance (yes, there is a dance but­ton).

DAI House Amphitheatre Sugar Club

There are also quite a few per­son­al­i­ties and mag­nates in Cryptovoxels, who are re­spon­si­ble for build­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing some of the biggest builds and events. Artist, ar­chi­tect and Photoshop Priest” Alotta Money re­cently ad­ver­tised the open­ing party for the Voxel Hotel, which has to be the most im­pres­sive build I’ve seen in Cryptovoxels so far.

In fact, as re­cently as yes­ter­day, peo­ple have been gath­er­ing at the Voxel Hotel and else­where for le­git­i­mate meet-ups and events. Many of these meet-ups are well or­ga­nized and have con­sid­er­able thought put into them.

There are plenty of se­crets to dis­cover as well, as some of the best builds and ex­pe­ri­ences are hid­den away. If you check out EtherBrews it ap­pears to be a sim­ple brew­ery on the wa­ter, but if you go in­side and fly over the wall, you’ll find a beau­ti­ful tree. Some builds are straight up puz­zles, like Yours Truly Puzzle (can you get in?). Finally, you may even find games like Breakout ap­pear on ran­dom cor­ners of the world since bet­ter script­ing func­tion­al­ity has been added.

EtherBrews Yours Truly Puzzle Breakout

The above only scratches the sur­face of what you can ex­plore in Cryptovoxels. You can watch live events as Cryptovoxels sup­ports YouTube em­beds and Twitch streams, you can go shop­ping (more on that later) and even pray in a vir­tual church if that’s your thing.

Cryptovoxels SpaceX Launch Cryptovoxels Market Cryptovoxels Church


After you’re done ex­plor­ing, you may be in­spired to build some­thing your­self. Once you pur­chase a par­cel, or dis­cover one in sandbox” mode you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to get go­ing, but much harder to build more com­plex builds.

At the most ba­sic level, if you press tab” on your prop­erty you’ll see a build menu pop-up with tons of op­tions. If you head over to Tiles” and se­lect your pre­ferred tile color and pat­tern, you can place them wher­ever you want in the bounds of your prop­erty!

Cryptovoxels Build Menu Cryptovoxels Tile Menu Cryptovoxels Placing a Tile

If this re­minds you of Minecraft, you’re right. Ben Nolan, the founder, says that Minecraft was a big in­spi­ra­tion for the pro­ject.

I was in­spired by Minecraft and loved the idea of a Minecraft city that is owned by its users — Ben Nolan, Founder of Cryptovoxels

That ex­plains the ba­sics, but as you may have no­ticed from the YouTube video, there are tons of tu­to­ri­als on­line. Once you get more ad­vanced, you’ll likely be play­ing with Vox files which al­low you to im­port more gran­u­lar as­sets from ex­ter­nal ed­i­tors.

If that all sounds like too much ef­fort, you can al­ways hire an a pro­fes­sional Cryptovoxel ar­chi­tect to build some­thing for you.

Buy & Sell

A Metaverse would not be com­plete with­out an econ­omy. The main thing peo­ple ex­change in Cryptovoxels are the parcels them­selves, which can be bought and sold on OpenSea and TokenTrove. On the OpeanSea ac­tiv­ity page, you can see that 277 ETH (approx. $70,000) worth of parcels have been traded this week, and 8480 ETH (approx. $2,000.000) worth has been traded in to­tal. On av­er­age, parcels have gone for 1.9 ETH (approx. $475).

Cryptovoxels Price Distribution Cryptovoxels Price Over Height Cryptovoxels Price Over Area

Above you can see the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the ETH prices (in wei) for set­tled trades, a plot of ETH price vs. par­cel height, and a plot of ETH price vs. par­cel area over the past month (May 2020) or so. While you do see a lot of sales oc­cur at the 1.5 ETH (approx. $375) mark, you also see some parcels go for over 10 ETH (approx. $2,500)! The plots show that while there is some noise, price is gen­er­ally cor­re­lated with the size of the par­cel.

Anecdotally, the prices of parcels have got­ten much higher over the past year. If you want to in­ves­ti­gate more, Cryptovoxels Investment Thoughts and How to Value Virtual Assets go pretty in-depth.

It’s worth call­ing out that a lot more stuff is be­ing ex­changed in Cryptovoxels. For one, most of the world is an art gallery where the art is for sale. The art ranges from game col­lectibles (like CryptoKitties) to pho­tog­ra­phy to clas­si­cal art that has been to­k­enized.

Cryptovoxel Gallery 1 Cryptovoxels Gallery 2 Cryptovoxels Gallery 3

On top of that, wear­ables have got­ten in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar lately. Wearables are items that you can put onto your avatar (you can also claim han­dles, and change your skin by the way). Entire malls, brands and pro­mo­tional videos have emerged as a re­sult. People are go­ing nuts over these vir­tual prod­ucts that are en­tirely gen­er­ated by the com­mu­nity.

Cryptovoxels Hat Cryptovoxels Car Cryptovoxels Watch

This is what it looks like when your avatar is com­pletely decked out.

How to get a par­cel

If the prices you see for parcels on OpenSea are a bit out of your price range, you should know that new parcels are minted every Tuesday at ap­prox­i­mately 5pm PST. To get in on the ac­tion the best first step is to join the Cryptovoxels Discord, where the #general and #new-island chan­nels will be the most rel­e­vant.

Every Tuesday the Cryptovoxels team re­leases new is­lands around Origin City. The process is likely to change in the fu­ture, but the way it works for now is that the team will bulk sell 20-30 new prop­er­ties at prices from 1 ETH and above (perhaps lower, de­pend­ing on the is­land).

To see the parcels be­fore they go on sale, you can check OpenSea for Recently Born” parcels, se­lect the par­cel that you’re in­ter­ested in, and press View on Cryptovoxels” to visit the par­cel it­self. Once the sale goes live, you’ll likely want to fil­ter for that spe­cific is­land, and sort by price.

If you are tech­ni­cally savvy, I’ve writ­ten a very sim­ple script that will par­tic­i­pate in the sales for you. However, un­less you un­der­stand the code, I rec­om­mend tak­ing the OpenSea ap­proach. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it has been very easy to get a par­cel this way.

When you suc­ceed feel free to come say hi at my par­cel!

Final thoughts

It’s not too late to join the party. The com­mu­nity is very wel­com­ing and the Cryptovoxels team seems to be al­ways im­ple­ment­ing fea­ture re­quests from peo­ple in the Discord chan­nel. It’s a lot of fun to see it evolve, and I’m sure it will be a lot dif­fer­ent just a cou­ple of months from now.

As men­tioned above, new parcels are be­ing added all the time. You can check out some awe­some par­cel stats at this Dune Analytics dash­board.