As we leave 2021 behind us, the explosion of NFTs last year can only be compared to the growth of DeFi protocols from the beginning of 2020 to the end of 2021, $10 billion vs. $100 billion in total value locked (TVL), respectively. In fact, the NFT market performed drastically better, from $100 million in 2020 to $23 billion in trading volume until December 2021. That marks a stellar 2,200% performance!
When it comes to specific NFT marketplaces, the phenomenon known as the network effect is, predictably, still in place. OpenSea dominates the NFT ecosystem, having achieved $14 billion in trading volume during 2021, compared to the incipient $21.7 million in 2020. This represents a massive 646x growth factor from the year prior.
Excluding project-specific NFT marketplaces, such as Axie Infinity, NBA Top Shot, and CryptoPunks, following OpenSea are Solanart and Magic Eden. Both NFT marketplaces are hosted on the Solana blockchain and have accrued $974 million in trading traffic. This is a significant development, but not that surprising.
Ethereum is notorious for having stupendously high ETH gas fees, while Solana treats its customers with a completely negligible $0.00025 fee per transaction. Therefore, we may see this trend rise in 2022 if Ethereum doesn’t get its act together.
Lastly, the top 3 NFT collections have marked 2021 in sales: Axie Infinity at $3.8 billion, CryptoPunks at $1.8 billion, and Art Blocks at $1.1 billion. Because Axie is also a blockchain game, it far surpassed all other NFT collections, by having nearly 1.4 million buyers. Only NBA Top Shot came close at 385k buyers.
With the yearly stats out of the way, here are some notable NFT collections popping up on the radar last week.
Ozzy Osbourne’s CryptoBatz
Although past his prime, the 73-year-old singer and songwriter still has a heavy cultural weight. After all, since the 1960s he has sold over 100 million albums, netting him $220 million in personal wealth. Fitting Ozzy’s British lineage, Rolling Stone UK announced his first entry into the NFT market with the Prince of Darkness collection.
Consisting of 9,666 NFT bats, the Prince of Darkness is a nod to the incident in 1982 in Des Moines, Iowa. While he was performing solo, the ex-Black Sabbath singer bit off the head of a real bat, with its heart still beating. Furthermore, the Prince of Darkness is also a four-CD box set Ozzy released in 2005.
From the number of Cryptobats involved, we can conclude this is another generative art collection revolving around a randomized set of attributes. Moreover, the NFT bats will borrow from another common theme — pixel art.
CryptoBatz NFTs will also hold an additional feature layer. Popularized by Mutant Ape Yacht Club with its mutant serum, there will be an alternate, even darker version of CryptoBats as MutantBatz. In other words, CryptoBatz holders will have an option to activate a ‘bite’ on any of their other NFTs.
However, CryptoBatz added a unique twist to the mutant formula. This ‘bite’ could be exerted to even separate NFT collections such as Cryptotoadz. SupDucks, and even Bored Ape Yacht Club. This is all made possible by Sutter Systems, a brand-new NFT studio.
CryptoBatz discord channel is holding up the pre-sale, with an additional 2,500 pre-sales heading for exclusivity on the channel. All the social links and the collection itself can be found on CryptoBatz’s official Twitter page.
Ferrari Partners With Velas for Their Upcoming NFT Entry
If there is one brand that pops off when you hear Italian luxury supercar, it would almost certainly be Ferrari. Focused on exclusive clientele, Ferrari was always concerned more with its image than profit. Therefore, although its market cap of $48.7 billion is impressive, it is only half that of General Motors.
With many metaverses now in play, such as The Sandbox and Decentraland, many companies are now looking into virtual commodity expansion. This is the gambit Ferrari is making with its partnership with Velas Network AG, headquartered in Switzerland. Velas (VLX) blockchain is in many ways similar in performance to Solana.
In fact, Velas is built upon Solana as the next iteration, although with a smaller mark cap at $845 million compared to Solana’s $53 billion. Nonetheless, Velas does support Ethereum, Tron, and BSC smart contracts, which will extend to the upcoming Ferrari NFTs.
In short, just like Ferrari offers one of the top-performing supercars, so will their NFTs top both performance and transaction affordability. Velas will also sponsor the Ferrari Esports Series, a virtual car race featuring the highly-rated Assetto Corsa video game. You can sign-up for it at Ferrari’s official site.
Based on this, one should expect to see Ferrari car models as NFTs soon. Perhaps, in the future, they will be playable NFTs just like Axies in Axie Infinity. It would be a natural fit, given that 99.9% of people on the planet will only be able to afford Ferrari supercars, virtually.
Given that the Ferrari-Velas partnership will last for multiple years, it looks like this is a long
John Terry Onboards the NFT Train With the Ape Kids Club
Those who are fans of football, or soccer in Europe, would be familiar with Chelsea, one of the oldest Premier League clubs founded in 1905, in the U.K. Over the century, Chelsea scored hundreds of iconic footballers. One of them is the former captain John Terry.
Now a professional football coach, Terry scored 41 goals in his career across 492 football appearances. Fans who have been following Terry could have noticed that he changed his Twitter pic profile last week to a blue ape.
This is indeed one of the NFTs from the recently announced The Ape Kids collection. Created by ApeKidsClubTeam, Terry will be now working with them to energize the NFT market even further, but aiming for non-adults.
Also following the trend of generative clusters, it will account for 9,999 baby apes. Terry gave another clue for his NFT interest on December 28, 2021, when he posted the picture of his newly acquired ApeDads NFT out of 4,000 total. They share stark similarity with now-legendary Bored Apes Yacht Club, except they are going for the football fan aesthetic.
All of these apes are clearly running through the same generative algorithm as BAYC, now having accrued over $986 million in total sales. The involvement of Terry with this market section creates an interesting dynamic. Are parents going to buy NFTs for their kids, as a speculative asset, and as a form of savings?
Given that most NFT holders have yet to recoup their losses on the secondary market, that might not be such a good idea. At least, not according to Nansen’s data.
Twitch Co-Founder Launches Fractal NFT Marketplace
Would you like an NFT marketplace that specializes in blockchain gaming and metaverses? Well, the newly launched Fractal running on the super-affordable and ultra-fast Solana blockchain has you covered. First announced in the second week of December, Fractal is now fully deployed, already featuring six blockchain games:
Aurory — 3D tactical, the ability-based game very similar to Wakfu.
Portals — Social-networking metaverse game playable within a browser. Imagine Fallout 4 settlement-building but with social features — chat, invites, NFT racks for clout… Portals NFTs are effectively building ownership certificates.
Panzerdogs — Dogs in panzer tanks! Another Play-to-Earn game similar to Axie Infinity, but with real-time tank battles and explosions.
Genopets — Are you wearing a sports-monitoring device that tracks your progress? Genopets allow you to connect that data and watch the evolution of your Genopets. In other words, it’s the world’s first Move-to-Earn NFT-powered game.
Photo Finish — Virtual horse racing in which racing is just a small bit. It’s a whole world of breeding, buying, selling, and training horses.
The first impression of Fractal — it’s a snappy and clean-cut NFT marketplace, befitting Solana’s growing ecosystem of DApps. To celebrate its launch, Fractal is airdropping 100,000 Fractal NFTs, as digital snowflakes.
The airdrop will last for several weeks, but you will have to be ‘Grape Verified’ on the official Fractal Discord server, which has grown remarkably fast in December, to over 111k members. Most interestingly, Fractal is all about making blockchain assets, including NFTs, available across projects. Justin Kan, the co-founder of the marketplace, indicated that these Fractal NFTs may one day be in some blockchain game as an ability.
That’s definitely something to look forward to, as NFTs gain an additional layer of function. In turn, this gives them more value down the line. Furthermore, with so many people already on board Fractal’s Discord channel, Solana’s title of potential ‘Ethereum-killer’ grows more likely with each passing day. Will Ethereum’s docking with Beacon Chain some time in H2 2022 finally lower its hefty gas fees?
Commercial Bank of Dubai Launches NFT Art Exhibition
Known for its grand architectural projects, the rich microstate, United Arab Emirates, is also known for its implementation of cutting-edge tech it borrowed from the West. Holding over $23 billion AuM (assets under management), the Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is the 7th largest bank in the UAE.
The bank has its own digital lab in Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), the leading FinTech hub of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA). You may be wondering, why does a bank need a digital lab? You may remember that the UAE Central Bank (CBUAE) announced last Summer that it will develop its own CBDC — Central Bank Digital Currency — joining all major central banks.
In turn, just like in China, commercial banks are those that will facilitate digital currencies, less they become obsolete. Now, back to the NFT exhibit in DIFC. The art installation is actually physical, depicting the rapid growth of the UAE over 50 years. Specifically, how CBD helped grow both the nation and its capital, Dubai.
At the center of the artwork is Deira Clock Tower, also integrated into the CBD logo itself.
Where the interesting part comes in is that each physical exhibit contains a QR code, as you see on the image above. Through your phone, you can then experience an augmented version of the artwork, including sound. The project launched as a commemoration to the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.
CBD, therefore, became the first bank to have developed its own NFT collection. However, the digital NFT mirrors of the physical exhibits will become available later.
Can 2022 Repeat the NFT Growth of 2021?
Linking physical assets with their NFT counterparts, as demonstrated by CBD, is just one of the innovations to take off in 2022. Fractionalized and collective ownership of all kinds of assets as NFTs already seems to be on the table. Companies such as Masterworks, Particle, and Exposed Walls, have all started breaking apart big NFT pieces, or non-blockchain assets, into fractionalized NFTs.
Case in point, when Particle bought Banksy’s 2005 artwork Love is in the Air and sold it for 10k NFTs, each with around €1300 price tag. With that in mind, one should expect more fractionalized NFTs popping up on marketplaces.
Even more clear is that big corporations, such as Nike, Adidas, Ferrari, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, are gaining foothold into the NFT ecosystem. They will provide a lead for other companies to follow, unless they wish to remain behind in the branding game. The latter will consist of in-game, in-metaverse blockchain assets that will provide some perks in the real world.
Because open-world metaverses are so inherently flexible, the imagination is the only limit to NFT use-cases. In turn, the most likely scenario is for metaverse virtual land plots to continue to sell like hotcakes.