2022 is off to a good start for NFTs. In just two weeks, since the year started, OpenSea is poised to repeat its August peak performance at $3 billion NFT trading volume. Thus far, Dune Analytics reports $2.8 billion worth of traffic, with the month halfway through. Another bullish NFT trend is a significantly higher rise of monthly users. Just from the end of December to January 14, 12.7% more users stepped into the NFT trading game.
Although Ubisoft PR blew it by tokenizing in-game assets (Digits) in their latest fully priced Tom Clancy game, the NFT market shows no sign of stopping. Corporations are moving in aggressively, but before we delve into the long-term trend, there are a few NFT happenings worth mentioning.
Two Major Innovative NFT Stars: Meebits and Loot Project
For the last week, the perennial BAYC lost its primacy, to be replaced by Meebits, a 3D voxel avatar collection that people can trade or use in metaverse games. So far, Meebits sales are astonishing, $966 million in a week’s span, representing 25,334% growth. Created by Larva Labs devs, who gained fame with CryptoPunks, Meebits are effectively the 3D version of CryptoPunks with extra utility as playable models.
The big twist to the 9,000 Meebits NFT collection is that each can be imported into 3D software to be animated, 3D printed, or reverted into a 2D pixel art, serving as another CryptoPunks-like collection for social media avatars. However, there is not a single NFT project right now matching the ingenuity of Loot.
Loot has achieved even greater sales volume in the last week, 36,900% growth at $259.6 million, positioning itself just behind Meebits. The reason for this sudden popularity is that Loot is not so much an NFT collection as it is a toolset given to the community to develop all kinds of projects.
First of all, Loot is a seemingly boring, text-based NFT collection consisting of 8,000 “bags,” with each one containing classic RPG gear, from helmets and robes to amulets and gloves. However, this is the foundation for the community to turn them from a Bag NFT like this…
…into a visualized version thanks to a variety of art generators and wrappers. This means that the initial Loot collection of bags generates new NFT collections, such as Loot Characters.
Or Loot Explorers…
This community-driven, bottom-up NFT approach is the first of its kind to completely decentralize what can be done with an NFT collection. Loot already spawned a Lootverse of derivative projects, market trackers, and guilds, all listed here.
Why Are Big-Name Companies Moving Towards NFTs?
As Loot shows, NFT innovation is just starting. After all, smart contracts are boundlessly flexible, able to tie in any logic into a tangible asset system. NFTs as land deeds and certificates can be used both for physical and metaverse assets. Likewise, for sports tickets and memorabilia.
Therefore, corporations are starting to see this emerging space as another branding and marketing jump-off point. Here are some of the more notable companies that have taken the NFT route.
Adidas’ Into the Metaverse NFT Drop
Famous for its sports wearables, especially in Slavic regions, German adidas launched adidas Originals Into the Metaverse NFT collection as a result of a partnership with PUNKS Comic, GMoney (private collector), and Bored Ape Yacht Club. On the day of the launch, December 17, 2021, Into the Metaverse NFT drop sold for $23.4 million, consisting of 30,000 NFTs, with each one costing 0.2 ETH.
In the meantime, the all-time average price on OpenSea rose to 0.7572 ETH, or about $2,510 USD. Because of the partnership involved, the first 20,000 were accessible to holders of Pixel Vault NFTs (PUNKS Comic) and either Bored or Mutant Ape NFTs. This was made possible via POAP tokens — Proof of Attendance Protocol NFTs that are usually distributed as badges to grant access to exclusive sales.
Adidas expected to receive an immediate sellout because it limited sales to 2 NFTs per person (unique address). However, one buyer did buy 330 NFTs by using a custom smart contract; its deployment explained by software engineer Montana Wong.
For those who missed it, this is just phase 1 of Adidas NFT drops. After all, the sportswear giant did partner with Coinbase, the largest U.S. crypto exchange soon to deploy its own NFT marketplace. Likewise, Adidas staked a land parcel from the metaverse game The Sandbox. No doubt, Into the Metaverse NFT holders will have exclusive access to virtual and physical wearables coming this year, first popping up in the virtual lands of The Sandbox.
Nike’s Cryptokicks and Nikeland
In the same line of business as Adidas, but with greater emphasis on sports shoes, Nike bought the blockchain startup RTFKT Studios in December, specialized in NFTs by linking virtual to physical merch. To illustrate, RTFKT previously collaborated with Victor Fewocious teen artist to sell 600 sneakers for $3.1 million.
RTFKT picked the 18-year-old Fewocious for its outstanding NFT sales on Nifty Gateway, worth over $4 million. No doubt, being in sync with GenZ culture helped RTFKT become successful, which eventually led Nike to buy it. Moreover, just like Adidas’ land staking in The Sandbox, Nike did the same with Roblox.
For free, gamers can create content in Roblox’ Nikeland and play mini-games like dodgeball and tag. Except for Nike’s patent filing for blockchain-enabled shoes in 2019, little else is known of its upcoming NFT drop. The patent submission included “cryptokicks,” so we can expect to see NFTs that are linked to physical shoes.
Most likely, virtual ones will yield rewards as players parade them around in the metaverse realm. Likewise, it seems that Nike’s cryptokicks will be mutable, similar to Axies in Axie Infinity. So far, players participating in Nikeland can earn gold medals and blue ribbons, which are used to unlock Nike virtual wearables.
On the business side of things, Nike is known for its hype releases, which make up about 5% of its product lineup. Because of Nike’s global popularity, when “cryptockicks” come online, the company will have to consider how to scale them properly in order to maintain NFT scarcity. Otherwise, Nike may create a dime-a-dozen situation, which would likely erode their appeal compared to smaller but more innovative competitors.
Samsung’s Smart TVs Now NFT Smart
There are few electronics giants around like Samsung. The company is responsible for one-third of worldwide TV sales. More importantly, Samsung dominates the smart TV market, consisting of 98.3 million TVs sold in H1 2021. In that niche, Samsung is the clear leader with 20.8 million smart TVs sold, a 10.3% growth from the year prior.
This market is now becoming a gateway to NFTs thanks to the new generation of Samsung’s 2022 smart TVs: MICRO LED, Lifestyle TVs, and Neo QLED. All three will integrate an upgraded Smart Hub feature combining Gaming Hub and Watch All with an NFT Platform. This will mean that NFT shoppers will now have the advantage of beauty and functionality in one package, as it combines cutting-edge fidelity screens with up to 8k resolution.
They can then preview and trade NFTs, as well provide an educational material on this new digital asset class. Furthermore, Samsung’s Smart Calibration is capable of automatically adjusting picture settings for NFT display, just as the original artist specified in the NFT’s metadata.
More importantly, Samsung’s NFT foray means that other brands will have to step up their game, providing a ramp for millions of new NFT traders.
Coca-Cola’s Loot Box
The iconic sugared beverage company launched its humble NFT in July 2021, raking in $575,000 on OpenSea NFT marketplace. Named Friendship Loot Box, the piece consists of four NFTs, including a cooler.
The single loot box features a high-fidelity vintage 1956 Coca-Cola cooler, animated and exposing three other NFTs:
- Coca-Cola bubble jacket as a wearable item in the Decentraland metaverse
- Coca-Cola Friendship Card containing reimagined artwork hailing from 1948
- Sound Visualizer invoking iconic Coca-Cola sound
The winner of the 72-hour auction, NullAddress, also gained a fully-stocked Coca-Cola fridge as a physical item. All the proceeds, 217.4 ETH, went to the Special Olympics International. Later on, Coca-Cola held a can-top party inside the virtual space of Decentraland. Utah-based Tafi startup made the whole event possible, having already worked with Coca-Cola on physical collectibles and digital wearables.
For Coca-Cola’s future drops, Tafi Chief Operating Officer, Ty Duperron, hinted that the company wanted to launch NFT wearables beyond a single bubble jacket, but opted for a more meaningful launch as its first NFT venture.
Pepsi’s the Mic Drop
Ever a counter to Coca-Cola, Pepsi was far more ambitious with its Genesis NFT collection, titled Pepsi Mic Drop. Interestingly, Pepsi gave it away for free, minus the gas fees. The collection consists of 1,893 NFTs, signifying the company’s founding year.
To receive the pieces, those who got on Pepsi’s waiting list had to simply connect their wallets. The collection was a standard generative one, revolving around 50 unique attributes covering six categories. The result came out as anthropomorphic mics with different backgrounds, styles,, and attitudes.
The company in charge of developing the Mic Drop, VaynerNFT, dug into Pepsi’s history by borrowing color schemes from its most popular brands: Red Pepsi Wild Cherry, Classic Blue Pepsi Silver Diet Pepsi, Black Pepsi Zero Sugar, and others.
Moving along with the times, Pepsi also launched a carbon offset program to counter the electricity usage in deploying Mic Drop NFTs.
Do Corporate NFTs Have a Future?
Big business has to tread a delicate tightrope. People tend to be attracted more to personalities rather than company brands. This is why the current crop of NFT offerings dug deeper into nostalgia, as demonstrated by both Coca-Cola and Pepsi. After all, these brands accompanied most of people’s lives, through multiple generations.
The parallel approach is to make NFTs an integral part of metaverse gear, for whatever form that may end up coalescing into. People keep forgetting that Metaverse, as such, is a platform of platforms, connecting every one into a seamless virtual experience. We are nowhere near that level of Ready Player One setup, as metaverse platforms, such as Roblox, The Sandbox, or Decentraland, are still disjointed.
However, companies will have a vital role to play in establishing The Metaverse. By staking their claim on virtual spaces, and tying NFTs to physical items and rewards, they build up these platforms. Those with an already established status and more tangible products — Nike, Adidas, Louis Vuitton — will likely have more traction than others like McDonald’s or beverage companies.
After all, you can neither drink nor eat in metaverses, but you can wear NFTs on your avatar.
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