Deep Dive: the NFT market today
The market for digital collectibles has continued to smolder even while the cryptocurrency market stalls.
In this issue:
In spite of the sluggishness of the cryptocurrency market generally the market for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) has continued to grow. NFTs are powering sports collectibles, high art, avatars and digital real estate. We’ve talked about the general idea behind NFTs a few times already. Here we survey some of the most prominent recent projects and a suite of tools for analyzing and understanding the market.
The First 10 NFT projects you meet
1. NBA Top Shot (~$648M in sales, ~527k owners)
NBA Top Shot moments are short video clips of basketball highlights built on the Flow blockchain by DapperLabs (the folks behind CryptoKitties). Moments are basically digital collectible sports cards. Unlike the rest of the NFTs discussed here which are built on Ethereum, Top Shots is built on Flow, a blockchain designed by DapperLabs specifically to support NFTs. The most notable thing about the project (besides the sheer volume of sales) is that Top Shot moment owners are mostly sports fans rather than mostly cryptocurrency enthusiasts.
2. CryptoPunks (~$377M in sales, ~2.5k owners)
Widely considered the first true NFT project, CryptoPunks are a set of 10,000 pixel portrait avatars created by LarvaLabs in June of 2017. At launch the developers kept 1000 of the punks for themselves and gave the rest away for free to anyone who wanted to claim one. At time of writing the cheapest available punk costs 18 ETH (~$38k) and the most expensive punks last sold for ~$7.5M.
3. Axie Infinity (~$276M in sales, ~361k owners)
Axie Infinity is a blockchain based game where players collect, breed and battle NFTs known as Axies. Axie Infinity also has a corresponding metaverse where you can purchase digital real estate and an in-game currency known as AXS. Axie Infinity is the largest play-to-earn platform to date.
4. Meebits (~$72M in sales, ~4.7k owners)
Meebits are a set of 20,000 three-dimensional pixel avatars by LarvaLabs, the folks behind the CryptoPunks project. Half of the Meebits were given to holders of CryptoPunks and the rest were sold via a Dutch auction. Meebits are designed primarily to be avatars for virtual metaverses like Decentraland or Sandbox. The smart contract that powers Meebits also has a built-in zero-fee trading marketplace.
5. Bored Ape Yacht Club (~$64M in sales, ~4.5k owners)
The Bored Ape Yacht Club (or BAYC) is a collection of 10k generative avatars that stylizes itself as a "members only social club" where the NFT serves as a membership card. In addition to the avatars BAYC has a few ancillary perks for NFT owners, such as The Bathroom (a shared pixel wall akin to Reddit’s place) and the Bored Ape Kennel Club (~$11M in sales, ~3.8k owners) a set of 10k generative pet dogs given to the owners of BAYC apes for free. BAYC also explicitly gave NFT Owners commercial rights to the art, unlike many early NFT projects (most notably CryptoPunks).
6. Hashmasks (~$51M in sales, ~4.5k owners)
The Hashmasks are a collection of 16,384 avatars with a long list of explicit and implicit rarity traits. Hashmasks generate a token over time that can be either sold or spent to "name" the Hashmask, inviting the owners to participate in the art itself. Hashmasks also grant NFT holders the copyrights to the image as well as the token, so owners can resell usage rights to their portrait if they so desire.
7. Decentraland (~$46M in sales, ~4.7k owners)
Decentraland is a metaverse were you can buy and develop plots of virtual real estate much like a decentralized version of the game Second Life. Decentraland as a project dates back to 2015 but its current conception launched in late 2017. Digital real estate is often used to host virtual galleries and events for digital art like NFTs.
8. Art Blocks (~$35M in sales, ~6.5k owners)
Art Blocks are a series of limited edition generative "high art" pieces by curated artists. There have been 109 Art Block projects since time of writing, each with a few hundred editions. Because Art Blocks are released with a fixed mint price and very limited number of copies they frequently cause gas spikes as buyers race to try and mint one before they sell out.
9. CryptoKitties (~$34M in sales, ~101k owners)
Although CryptoPunks were the first major NFT project it took time for them to gain much traction. CryptoKitties (the first project by Dapper Labs the group behind NBA Top Shots) was the first NFT project to go viral back in 2017. At the height of their popularity CryptoKitties literally congested the entire Ethereum network. Like the Axies of AxieInfinity you can breed CryptoKitties, so in addition to rarity CryptoKitties also have "generations." Earlier generation kitties have a faster breeding cooldown and hence are more valuable.
10. VeeFriends (~$14M in sales, ~4.5k owners)
Gary Vaynerchuk (or Gary Vee) is something straddling the line between entrepreneur and influencer - mostly he is famous for being rich and has a fervent fanbase who would like to be rich, too. He started his own NFT project, the VeeFriends a set of 10,255 crudely drawn pictures of animals and insects that also double as tickets for the next three years to VeeCon, an exclusive conference for VeeFriend holders. The most interesting aspect of VeeFriends is that its ownership base is largely non-overlapping with other NFT projects. In other words most VeeFriend holders are more GaryVee enthusiasts than NFT enthusiasts.
Useful Tools for exploring NFTS:
NextDrop is just a simple listing of ongoing and upcoming NFT launches where new NFTs can be minted, along with a brief description and links to the websites and discords of the various projects.
Rarity.tools is a website that lets you explore, rank and filter the NFTs from various major projects by attributes. A good tool for trying to understand the rarity or price implications of a particular NFT within a project.
Similar to Rarity.tools Degendata is a tool for understanding the price of specific NFTs, but with more of a focus on trends and categories and less of a focus on finding a specific NFT. Use Rarity.Tools to find the cheapest punk with a mohawk and Degendata to watch trends in the price of mohawk punks over time.
DappRadar does other DeFi things beyond just NFT, but they also maintain a leaderboard of all major NFT projects by sales volume and price. Just as Degendata is useful for watching trends in various categories of NFT within a project, DappRadar is useful for watching the trends of the projects themselves.
OpenSea is the largest Ethereum NFT marketplace and probably the easiest place to track your NFT collection. It is home to the majority of secondary sales and is one of the easier places to acquire NFTs after they have been minted or sold out. OpenSea also has an excellent introduction to the history of NFTs that covers a lot of this ground in greater detail.