You might think that NFTs are only a recent technology, but the concept has existed since late 2012, when people began to explore the idea of ‘CryptoArt.’ This was achievable through unique Non-Fungible Tokens; different from crypto tokens in that no two are the same. The seed had been planted and two years later, in 2014, we saw the first recognized NFT minted. It was called Quantum — created by Kevin McCoy — and it recently sold for over $1.4 million in a Sotheby’s auction.
The intervening years have seen a steady swell of interest in crypto art, including exploring the potential of Bitcoin as a viable blockchain (an unsustainable option). 2017 saw Ethereum claim the throne as the home for NFT projects when CryptoPunks, a pixelated PFP (Profile Picture) project, and CryptoKitties entered the scene. Then, in 2018, NFT gaming really gained traction with the launch of the Metaverse project Decentraland, and the homage to Pokémon that is Axie Infinity.
This earlier phase of NFTs was art-centric, providing a way for artists to interact directly with their collectors as well as benefiting from secondary sales. The latter is achievable through the use of smart contracts, the way to code art onto the blockchain, which created a conduit for innovative and imaginative coding to develop. We haven’t seen the limits of what can be achieved with smart contracts just yet, but the evolution is occurring at breakneck speed.
2021 — The Year of NFTs
Saying that 2021 was a big year for NFTs may be understating it a little. Let’s recap some of the most notable happenings:
- March — Beeple (artist Mike Winklemann) sold his NFT ‘The First 5000 Days’ for $69 million USD
- April — Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) launched for a mint price of 0.08ETH (≈$200 USD at the time)
- May — Christie’s sold a collection of 7 CryptoPunks for $17 million
- June–August — BAYC monthly sales exploded from ≈$7,500 to ≈$89,600
- July — World of Women launched, mint price 0.07ETH (≈$150), current floor price of 9.75ETH (≈$25,280)
- August — BAYC launched the Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) spinoff
- December — BAYC announced a partnership with Adidas, Nike acquired RTFKT
- December — Murat Pak’s Merge sold for $91.8 million
- December — The NFT market across all chains was worth $24 billion
2022 and Beyond: What’s Next?
With such an explosive year just gone, the crypto industry — and the wider world — is eagerly watching to see what happens next. This is particularly interesting as late 2021 saw the beginning of a shift in the focus. Now, in addition to being art-centric, NFTs are also looking to provide utility. This could be:
- In-game use
- Physical-world collaboration
- Project partnership discounts
- Early/exclusive access to information, communities or projects
- …and so much more!
This is especially true in gaming-centric projects, which have been picking up steam since Sky Mavis’ Axie Infinity boomed during the pandemic. Axie demonstrated that players can successfully play to earn, with over $1billion worth of Axie trades on their native marketplace. Some players in developing countries have even been able to earn a living, putting food on the table and paying their rent during the pandemic. We are sure to see more gaming projects get off the ground and deliver epic games in 2022. Some to watch out for include; Star Atlas, Spark Era, Gala Games, Decentraland, and The Fabled, although there are many others.
While owning tokens provides an entry point into Web 3.0 games, the price can be prohibitive for those experiencing financial hardship. With that in mind, many games are seeing guilds take shape, like the Equinox Guild. Guilds are usually composed of early investors who hold a large number of NFTs, want to see the game succeed, and are happy to rent them out to people who are unable to afford the initial cost of entry. This rent is then shared amongst the guild members, thus providing income for guild members as well as a chance for new players to join the game and earn their own income.
Project partnerships are also taking off as, along with Nike and Adidas, established names are looking to enter the NFT space. In 2021, we saw brands from across the board, from the likes of McDonald’s and Taco Bell, to Mattel and Clinique, to the NFL and Gucci announcing projects or collaborations with established NFT names. In 2022, we can expect to see even more joining the ranks, as well as new and upcoming brands trying to be first to market and seize a piece of the pie.
As blockchain technology, crypto, and NFTs see wider adoption, we will also see new and creative ways to code smart contracts and include the technology in exciting, unforeseen ways. The future of the space is bright, as with a greater community comes greater diversity of thought, and further innovation.
If you’re involved now, WAGMI (We Are Going To Make It)!
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