As we continue to see crypto prices fluctuate and plunge with relative volatility, as well as observe the occasional demise of entire blockchain projects, it’s understandable to see why bullishness in the NFT space- whether that be from venture capitalists (VCs) or general consumers- is also taking a hit.
Although it seems like the crypto winter has been with us for an eternity (for some of us anyway), substantial dips in the NFT market came relatively recently, with DappRadar reporting that OpenSea’s overall transaction volume over the last 30 days has reduced by 13% (to $252 million), whilst more staggeringly, CryptoSlam totalled August’s global NFT sales to be $634 million – an amount which pales in comparison to the $4+ billion figure of August 2021.
Despite such market conditions being a convolution of many factors, there’s no reason why the non-fungible scene can’t look inwards to see how it can optimize, or in-fact, accelerate its ‘rebound’ out of the crypto winter. The need for such reflection can be exemplified in many ways, none more so than the fact that most non-crypto natives still perceive NFTs as mere images or JPEGS that live on this thing called a ‘blockchain’. That being said, and in getting to the premise of this article, it appears that corners of ‘NFT Twitter’ have already begun such self-reflection journey, as a new meme format which pokes fun at the lack of utility in the NFT space has arisen.
Here, the key word is ‘utility,’ a buzzword which many NFT projects don’t hesitate to use, despite the fact that in practice, the term could mean as little as ‘gaining access to an exclusive Discord server’. Furthermore, you’d be correct in thinking that such mistreatment (and perhaps borderline-fraudulent) use of the term shouldn’t sit right with a Blockster, which is why we believe it’s our duty to highlight the true potential of legitimate and tangible utilities in NFTs.
As with the limitless scope of NFTs, we could hypothetically cover countless ‘versions’ of useful utilities that could be embedded into NFTs, however instead, we’ll take the pragmatic approach of exploring some of the already-existent use cases. In doing so, we can see how early-adopters have already begun laying the foundations for a more productive non-fungible future.
One of the most predominant mediums for adding access-enabled and realm-transcending utilities into NFTs is in the niche of music festivals.
For example, Lost Village, which is one of the most infamous events of the UK’s relentless festival calendar, has ventured into non-fungibles by way of a NFT membership card concept. Here, and in partnership with NFT event ticketing start-up SeatlabNFT, festival goers who claimed an NFT membership card were given clues on how to locate a secret area of the festival. Overall, the concept induced a heightened level of interaction, excitement, and immersion for participants, as not only did the path to discovery incorporate all of the festival’s mysterious features and props, but the destination itself was an exclusivity-oozing, one-of-a-kind audio-visual experience.
On perhaps an even more innovative scale, the FestivalPass project launched NFTs which unlock $1200 worth of credits on its website (per year that is), which can then be redeemed for over 80,000 live events, such as, festivals, concerts, sports events, Broadway theater shows, hotel nights, and more.
Such examples are two of many instances of NFTs being leveraged within the hospitality and events industry- with the likes of Coachella, Universal Studios, and many other mainstream and web3-native organizations also getting in on the act. As inferred, the assets can offer an unlimited scope for enhancing the immersivity and interactivity of events- all of which can be tailored to the specific tone of each.
In addition, NFTs can unquestionably be used as an astute ticketing solution for near-enough any IRL event, as exemplified by Italian football club Lazio, which launched NFT season tickets to avoid disastrous ticketing fiascos like the one at the 2022 Champions League Final.
Although some decentralized titles make NFT purchases mandatory (as they may serve as necessary playable characters or weapons etc.), the realm also hosts ample other NFT-induced utilities, mainly through adding unprecedented flexibility, control, and interoperability to player’s experiences.
Examples of innovative gaming NFTs are in abundance, with high-grade decentralised titles such as Splinterlands, Alien Worlds, MOBOX: NFT Farmer, Bomb Crypto, Axie Infinity, and others, all allowing users to earn in-game tokens (known as play-to-earn mechanics) through simply playing the game via their NFT playable character. Here, it goes within saying that for many gaming enthusiasts, playing an AAA-grade game to earn tangible rewards is the epitome of ‘utility’.
The array of other objects that can be seen in games can also be NFT-ified and (therefore) owned, where, through altering metadata, they can also be upgraded, staked, burned, traded, and more. In an even more creative sense, metaverse platform Decentraland has added a feature to its ‘Emotes’ system which allows users to meticulously create their own ‘Emotes,’ which they can then use or trade as an NFT. Here, through the ability to digitally manifest, own, and trade particular ideas that were once merely abstract, users are truly rewarded for their engagement on the platform.
In certain cases, gaming NFTs can also offer utilities outside of games’ immediate ecosystem, such as through serving as access tickets to virtual/IRL events, or being interoperable with other titles launched by the same team/ platform (such as the REVV Motosport ecosystem), or alternatively, titles built on the same blockchain.
Virtual Real Estate
It would be truly wrong to explore the endless utilities of NFTs without acknowledging the underestimated opportunities that come with virtual real estate NFTs. Such assets, which are commonly described as virtual land plots, reside in metaverse platforms such as The Sandbox, Silk and Decentraland, and can be traded and owned just like any other NFT.
As with the dynamics of IRL real estate, they can be leveraged in many different ways- with the metaverse platform in question determining how so. For example, virtual land owners in Silk (a metaverse ecosystem based on breeding and racing horses) can use a number of tools to cultivate their properties for the betterment of their horse breeding ventures, whilst The Sandbox users can use the platform’s VoxEdit, Marketplace, and Game Creator features to create an endless variety of gaming, multimedia, or entertainment experiences on their land, which themselves and visitors can then enjoy.
Corporate companies can also look at using virtual real estate NFTs to not only expand their presence across the metaverse, but also to buy, sell, or rent advertising spaces.
The New Creator’s and Owner’s Economy
On the topic of ownership, NFTs are also poised as the backbone behind the new web3 creator’s economy, whether that being in regards to art (better known as CryptoArt), music, fashion, or any other realm of creativity and expression.
For example, new web3 music label ‘Probably A Label’ is a project which allows its NFT holders to sculpt the story, personality and music behind a virtual artist, where further, they will be credited for all of the work it produces, as well as the awards it wins. As the label is partnered with industry giants ‘Warner Records,’ the project is essentially bringing elite-level music production and acclaim to the masses.
In addition, the innate and streamlined proprietorship qualities of NFTs mean that ‘middle men’- i.e. corporate entities- can be skipped when it comes to distributing revenue to artists. Web3 icon Snoop Dogg has already been able to utilize this, as he was able to pay the artists involved in his audio-visual NFT project ‘Death Row Sessions’ Volumes 1 & 2 through a much more transparent, cost-effective, and fair means, as opposed to if the music and art was to be released via web2 means.
As already inferred by the proficiencies of virtual land NFTs, blockchain technology is also responsible for a new owner’s economy. Here, collectors can not only authenticate and enhance their ownership of illustrious physical items through the augmentation of ownership-proving NFTs, but they can also own fragments of highly coveted creations through owning a ‘fractionalized NFT’- for example, Banksy’s famous ‘Love Is In The Air’ artwork is owned by 10,000 different NFT holders,
In referring back to the thought that non crypto natives perceive the NFT industry as one which is saturated with PFP assets, we can also conclude that, as per the consistent state of OpenSea’s charts, such view isn’t necessarily inaccurate. It’s also safe to say that most of such projects don’t offer any of the aforementioned utilities in their NFTs, and rather in reality, their hype and perceived utility comes through their market value. Furthermore, in taking this onboard, and in acknowledging that we’re in a crypto slump, it’s no surprise as to why the NFT industry is in a recession.
Through making such consensus, it then becomes clear that for the NFT industry to experience a resurgence that isn’t strictly tied to the next crypto bull run, both inside and outside actors need to begin realising, adopting, developing, and leveraging the abundance of non-monetary-explicit utilities that NFTs can offer. In doing so, not only can a new era of utility-ridden NFTs start having a more substantial impact on the industry’s growth and stability, but it will also prompt other areas of society to start experimenting with the tech- as Romania has began doing with regards to storing citizens’ government documents as NFTs.
However, as simple as it sounds, we must also acknowledge that such enlightenment will undoubtedly be tied to the all-encompassing rate of web3 adoption.