After much anticipation, video tutorial series, guest blog posts and a global SDK bootcamp, the 2019 Decentraland Game Jam has finally kicked off. Over 2000 digital creators are currently flooding into the Metaverse for two weeks (Sept 16–30) of intense creative development and collaboration, competing for over $250k USD in prizes. Their efforts will form a lasting contribution to the evolution of Decentraland.
Where information differs between these two reports, I have chosen the more recently updated version, the Crypto Cities report.
Decentraland and Cryptovoxels are two virtual worlds that currently exist on the Ethereum blockchain. Both of these virtual worlds are divided into square pieces often referred to as parcels, aligned on a grid to form a city. In both virtual worlds, land parcels are a non-fungible asset maintained in Ethereum ERC-721 smart contracts.
Unlike many other social VR projects such as Sansar and High Fidelity, where the company has built the virtual world over time in anticipation of earning future income from users, Decentraland started with a well-timed, highly successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of their cryptocurrency token, MANA, in August 2017, raising US$24 million in less than a minute! This was followed by two successive auctions of virtual land parcels (called LAND), which were also very successful. Today, MANA has a market capitalization of approximately US$50 million. Decentraland is based in Argentina, and currently employs an estimated 45 people full time.
Contrast this with Cryptovoxels, which started in 2018 as a part-time project by a single New Zealand software developer, Ben Nolan. Cryptovoxels has been funded to a total of approximately US$140,000 worth of Ethereum (ETH) over the course of one year of virtual land parcel sales. This profit has recently enabled Ben to be able to work on the project full-time.
Project Size and Maps
In terms of overall size of the projects, Decentraland is approximately 23 times bigger than Cryptovoxels:
Decentraland itself is about half the size of Manhattan in New York City:
Jin reports on the differences between maps:
Decentraland’s atlas hasn’t changed much since the auction. The content that’s currently deployed into the world is not displayed on the marketplace map. Some wonder if this may have been a factor leading to several anomalies of parcels having sold for enormous sums of money.
We’ve analyzed the blockchain a few times since September 2018 to see how much content was deployed to Genesis City. – In September 2018 there was ~63 parcels with content deployed – In January 2019 there was ~100 parcels with content deployed – In July 2019 there were 24,000 parcels deployed*
(*see UPDATE at the end of this blogpost)
The Cryptovoxels map shows content that’s currently deployed to the city as well as analytics and other useful features. Anyone can jump into the world right now and try before they buy.
Content Creation Pipelines
In Decentraland, the content creation pipeline is asynchronous and somewhat difficult to master: publishing custom content requires users to know command-line and editing JSON files. For any custom models you will have to rely on using the SDK and setting positions of objects manually through code. Earlier this year, a simple drag-and-drop editor for novice users was created, called the Builder.
The editor for Cryptovoxels appears in-world when you press the Tab key. You can edit and publish to the content server seamlessly and in real-time, similar to games like Minecraft. You can add or remove different types of blocks to build any shape you want. You can even further decorate it with images, audio, art, texts, hyperlinks, ERC-721s, GIFs, etc. Changes to the parcel are saved automatically so that if you log out and log back in you see the changes persist.
There was no massive auction for Cryptovoxels land parcels; the project started off as a very small community that has grown bigger over time in an organic fashion, as parcels are minted slowly outwards from The Center. CV has grown by leaps and bounds within the past few months, as can be seen from this comparative illustration:
Average land sales from Cryptovoxels are beginning to catch up to the Decentraland market. However, it is worth noting that the entire market for DCL post-auction is now second hand. Cryptovoxels did not have a massive auction and instead mints new lands with procedural generation scripts for the size of each parcel and road.
Average Cost of Land Parcels
Land in Decentraland is significantly more expensive than Cryptovoxels. Currently, the lowest price for parcels in Cryptovoxels is about 20-25% that of the lowest price of parcels in Decentraland.
One significant difference between Cryptovoxels and Decentraland is that Cryptovoxels supports users in VR headsets, while Decentraland does not, and it is unlikely that the platform will do so anytime in the near future.
Some Final Figures
Current/Accessible Supply of Land
Total Supply of Land
This blogpost would have been impossible without the tireless work of CL and Jin, from whose reports I drew most of this information. Thank you!
*UPDATE 4:16 p.m.: Apparently, Decentraland (the company) is very unhappy with this blogpost, and I have been approached by a representative of the company who tells me that “your latest article contains lots of discrepancies and out of date data”.
The company feels in particular that Jin’s portrayal of Decentraland is unfairly negatively biased, but when I asked the representative for a list of concrete examples of errors made in this report, all he could give me was one figure, “In July 2019 there were 24,000 parcels deployed“, to replace one of Jin’s statements, which I have now inserted above.
I appear to have gotten myself caught in between two sides of a dispute, with Decentraland (with whom I felt I had a very good working relationship) on one side of the argument, and Jin (with whom I have worked before without incident) on the other side. I fucking hate being caught in the middle like this, and I don’t appreciate being caught in the cross-fire.
From my perspective, the blogpost I wrote today seems to be very even, not painting either company in a bad light in any way whatsoever. I pride myself on being as accurate as possible in my reporting, especially where facts are concerned, and if a company has a serious problem with something I have written, then I will certainly address the issue, BUT I NEED A LIST OF WHAT THE FACTUAL ERRORS ARE AND WHAT THE CORRECT FACTS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE. And so far, I have only had one factual error pointed out to me, and not “lots of discrepancies and out of date data”, which is what I was originally told by the Decentraland representative. The company seems to be very upset about how this blogpost makes them look, when I think it makes them look pretty good. I’m very confused. What did I do wrong here? This episode has just left a bad taste in my mouth.
SECOND UPDATE Sept. 13th: I have since received an apology from the DCL representative, which I have accepted. He had been at the end of a very, very long workday, and was not at his most diplomatic in asking for corrections, and I took what he said the wrong way. We are both moving on from this unfortunate episode. This is just a bump on the road forward.
There is still much left to write about Decentraland, and (as my regular blog readers already well know) I will not shy away from reporting both the good things and the bad things as they happen, at all the companies working on the various social VR platforms and virtual worlds I cover on this blog.
Sometimes we just need to take a step back and appreciate just how far we’ve come in the development of all these projects. Both Cryptovoxels and Decentraland have come a long way in a very short time, and both are truly pioneers. I look forward to seeing how both develop and evolve over time and I wish both teams the best in their future endeavours.
The Decentraland SDK Game Jam runs from Sept. 16th to 30th, 2019! This is a content creation contest for the blockchain-based virtual world Decentraland, where you have an opportunity to win a share of 2,500,000 MANA cryptocurrency tokens and 200 LAND virtual land parcels, prizes worth an estimated US$275,000 in total value.
Even better, Decentraland has announced that they will be running SDK workshops, both online (via Twitch) and in various physical locations around the world, from Sept. 8th to 15th, 2019! Attend a workshop and improve your building skills before the contest starts!
Sessions will be held in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin). I do not speak Spanish or Mandarin and I used Google Translate to translate from English. Las sesiones se realizarán en tres idiomas: inglés, español y chino (mandarín). No hablo español ni mandarín y utilicé Google Translate para traducir del inglés. 会议将以三种语言进行：英语，西班牙语和中文（普通话）。我不会说西班牙语或普通话，我使用谷歌翻译来翻译英语。
Here are all the details (please note that all times listed for real-life physical locations are local times; please use a tool like the Time Zone Converter to see what time these events take place in your time zone). All times for Twitch streams are given in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Here is the Twitch channel: https://twitch.tv/decentraland
Sunday, Sept. 8th, 2:00–6:00 p.m. Guangzhou Time – Guangzhou University (Guangzhou, China) Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. (in Mandarin). 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 More details at: https://www.meetup.com/TheMetaverse/events/264024907/
Monday, Sept. 9th, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Nico Earnshaw from Decentraland HQ presents 101: Decentraland SDK Workshop. (in English)
Tuesday, Sept. 10th, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Interweaver from the Decentraland community presents Building Blocks – Decentraland SDK Workshop. (in English)
Tuesday, Sept. 10th, 7:00–10:00 p.m. Shanghai Time – Neutrino Coworking Space (Shanghai, China). Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 (in Mandarin)
Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 7:00–10:00 p.m. Shanghai Time – Neutrino Coworking Space (Shanghai, China). Roy from our Chinese community will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by an SDK Workshop by Stephen Zhou, winner of our June Hackathon. 来自我们华人社区的Roy将在Decentraland上发表一个30分钟的演讲，接着是我们六月黑客马拉松的获胜者Stephen Zhou的SDK研讨会。 (in Mandarin)
Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Carl Fravel, the District Leader for Aetheria and The Decentraland Conference Centre, presents From Builder to SDK: A No-Frills Art Pipeline Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Friday, Sept. 13th, 6:30–10:00 p.m. Kuala Lumpur Time – Komune Coworking Space (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Tak, a winner of our June Hackathon, will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland at the Blockchain Gaming Meetup, followed by a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Friday, Sept. 13th, 11:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Spidymonkey from the Decentraland community presents a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Saturday, Sept. 14th, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Kuala Lumpur Time – Asia Pacific University of Innovation & Technology (APU) (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). Tak, a winner of our June Hackathon, will deliver a 30-minute presentation on Decentraland, followed by a Decentraland SDK Workshop (in English).
Sunday, Sept. 15th, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time – Online (Twitch). Nico Earnshaw from Decentraland HQ presents 101: Decentraland SDK Workshop. Nico Earnshaw de Decentraland HQ presenta 101: Taller de SDK de Decentraland. (in Spanish)
The Decentraland beta testing is now in full flow. New builds, games and projects are popping up all over the metaverse on a weekly basis. However, it’s still early days and there remains vast, empty areas on the map, with very little to view and experience right now.
If you have time to wander around Decentraland looking for cool new builds, great. If you don’t, then wouldn’t it be nice to have a map which can guide you around some of the best experiences which have already been deployed?
Introducing the new Decentraland interactive map, located at the top of our new, freshly designed homepage HERE. Click the [ ] symbol to view the map full-screen.
This interactive map currently highlights a range of areas where you can click, zoom in, view a snapshot, then click to teleport directly into the exact location in metaverse (currently beta testers only) and explore.
Click on the  button in the upper left-hand corner of the map, and it expands to a full-screen view:
You can scroll and zoom the map. In this example, I scrolled down to the bottom left-hand corner of the map, zoomed in, and clicked on the little blue dot of Celestialand, a virtual planetarium. A pop-up window gives a small picture and a link to teleport directly to that location (red arrow):
One click, et voilà! You’re there! (Please note that you do have to already be accepted into the closed beta program for this to work.)