Ben Nolan: Creating Cryptovoxels, The Most Accessible Metaverse

In this episode, Ben Nolan, the founder of Cryptovoxels, talks about why he wants to keep his platform accessible to everyone. In three years, the virtual NFT art gallery has gone from hosting a niche community to being a leader in the NFT movement.

What is Cryptovoxels?

  • Virtual world: Cryptovoxels is a virtual world and a digital art gallery. Each part of that world is owned as an NFT. The project began about three years ago, and Ben has been working on it as a full-time job for the past two years. There are currently nine people working at Cryptovoxels.
  • Holding or selling ETH? Ben says in the last crash about two years ago, he held onto a lot of his Ethereum. As a result, he was burned. This time, he’s been selling about 80 to 90% of what the company makes every week. The business owner says they have runway for a couple of years.
  • The project’s vision: The goal is for the project to get better quality, load faster, work better off weak computers. The point is not to become a bigger company. The platform uses several service apps to make the virtual world run faster. The focus is always on performance and accessibility.


Timestamp: 7:58 – “Everything that we optimize around the way we sell stuff, it’s to sell it so at least 50% of the land is built out.”

Timestamp:  22: 57 - “I absolutely believe there’ll be lots of small metaverses (…) there will be multiple ones. You will teleport from Cryptovoxels to something like Substrata…”

Virtual NFT World

  • A growing world: The virtual world keeps growing and when you’re at the center of it, it drives up the value because there are “normal” people. Visitors all want to see what’s in the center. Ben says they continue to create land in response to demand.
  • Auctions dictate price: When people are buying a high volume of parcels, Cryptovoxels creates more. At the same time, when there are fewer sales, the price will go down. The price varies depending on whether sales are high or low. If things slowed down completely, they would probably stop listing parcels and build the software until demand returned.
  • Balancing access and value: Ben is aware that people are investing in these parcels. He wants to maintain their value. Even so, he wants to make new land available to artists so they can create new builds. They always try to maintain about 50% of built-out land in the world.

The Uniqueness of Cryptovoxels

  • Neighborhood art: What makes Cryptovoxels different than other virtual worlds is that when you visit a parcel you can see the other build next-door. This way, you discover other artists. If you want to build a project, you need to prove it suits the land you want. The system makes some islands more affordable to artists so that they can get in on the development.    

  • Long-term goal: The long-term goal is to make more builds and islands available. This is what makes the virtual world interesting. At the moment, the company is small but eventually, they would love to do DAO projects.
  • High-quality art galleries: Ben says he wants galleries to be fast, attractive, be easy to build, and have current content. He initially built Cryptovoxels to be a metaverse. There is a lot of room to grow in the art gallery space. It’s a visual experience. The vision is also for Cryptovoxels to be more powerful so people can play games in it.
  • Hosting events: Ben believes the virtual gallery space is doing well. They want to make that their focus. They have been using Twitch and other platforms with presenters who live stream events. If they can make this feature work on the platform it would be great.  
  • Browser performance: The company works hard to make browser performance fast. There are more features they could use to make it faster. Ben believes his developers can make the platform twice as smooth as it currently is. With a high volume of users, the server has trouble handling the traffic. Making the avatars of people visible is important.
  • Server updates: There are ways to solve the server issue. Optimization is one solution, running simulations is another. Overall, the problems are solvable and because the scope of the platform isn’t huge, this is something they can concentrate on. At about 150 people, the scaling process seems to go well. Cryptovoxels sometimes simulates big events offline before launching.

The Future of Cryptovoxels

  • Substrata: Ben’s friend Nick has another metaverse called Substrata. He believes it will become one of the most ethical and biggest ones out there. The Cryptovoxels founder believes in the future there will be many small metaverses out there.  He also hopes one space won’t dominate the other.
  • Teleporting: In the future, users will be able to teleport from one metaverse to the other, going from Cryptovoxels to Substrata easily. As for the company, the hope is to build a metaverse with low friction that loads quickly and is connected to social media platforms like Twitter. At the same time, leaving the metaverse will be easy. Ben wants the space to be low-fi so that the solution is good on a weak computer. They want to maintain a simple geometry and keep it accessible to normal people.
  • Contact Info: You can find Ben Nolan on Twitter @bnolan. For more information, you can also visit his website http://www.bennolan.com/