The year 2021 was a watershed year for NFTs. Although non-fungible tokens have been around for a while, sales grew from just $41 million in 2018 to $11 billion in 2021, reaching nearly 60 times growth in three and a half years.
That said, even compared to 2020, NFT growth in 2021 was overwhelming. In 2020, total NFT sales volume reached $340 million. And with still a month to go, NFT sales volume has already surpassed $11 billion in the third quarter of this year.
One of the factors behind this surge in demand for NFTs is that an increasing number of blockchain companies (and traditional companies) are integrating these non-fungible tokens within their existing business models. For example, 2021 is witnessing the explosive growth of blockchain-based games that are primarily based on NFTs. From Axie Infinity, Splinterlands and Gods Unchained to several new and promising games, all have contributed to the growing dominance of NFTs.
Data from DappRadar indicates that while early NFT sales were driven by collectibles like CryptoKitties, Cryptopunks, and The Bored Ape Yacht Club, among others, NFT games are quickly taking over the market. By the end of 2019, in-game asset NFTs have gained mainstream popularity as active player bases have begun to expand across gaming platforms such as Gods Unchained, Decentraland, and dozens of other dApps.
Since then, blockchain games have single-handedly contributed to the majority of NFT transactions, including in-game collectibles and metaverse assets.
Not only do NFTs ensure 100% ownership of gaming assets, but they also allow players to monetize these assets. Moreover, the gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries. The fusion of blockchain and games has opened the door to a whole new world of opportunities for both game developers and players. In addition to this growing technology, the metaverse is simultaneously expanding into new horizons. As more and more projects align for the metaverse, the demand for NFT is expected to grow significantly.
That said, let's take a look at some of the most promising NFT-related projects that will play a crucial role in shaping the future of the NFT market.
First, we would like to discuss a decentralized content sharing platform. Creaton, based on Polygon, aims to provide the infrastructure for creators to easily monetize their content directly without any centralized authority.
Unlike other content sharing platforms, particularly those in the Web2 ecosystem, Creaton gives creators full ownership and control over their content, allowing them to accept paid subscriptions from their fans and engage in various other monetization avenues. Creaton accomplishes this by tokenizing all content in NFT, before storing newly created creations in a decentralized database powered by Arweave and encrypted by the Lit protocol.
Using NFT, smart contracts and Polygon's speed, interoperability and cost efficiency, Creaton has pioneered the concept of "decentralized and cryptographic" membership. The platform recently completed a successful fundraising round, raising $1.1 million from a group of investors.
Infinity is the next project designed to express the powerful potential of NFTs to a mass audience. As a decentralized, community-driven NFT marketplace, Infinity introduces the unique concept of InfinityDAO, a DAO-controlled NFT marketplace, protocol and treasury that also supports programmable NFTs.
If you're not already familiar with the trends, experts say programmable NFTs are the future. Ideally, any NFT is programmable, but for now this feature is largely underutilized. Programmable NFTs can offer many operational advantages because they can be "programmed" to adapt and change over time.
The platform has emerged as the potential alternative to OpenSea, which has come under harsh criticism for data leaks and high fees. Infinity offers lower transaction fees of just 1.5% (OpenSea charges 2.5%). In addition, all transaction fees on Infinity are transferred directly to a community-controlled InfinityDAO, unlike OpenSea, where all profits are distributed among the platform team.
In addition to the exclusive monetization avenues that NFTs are opening up for creators, consumers and players will also benefit. The first ever mafia metaverse to bring the legendary syndicate-themed gameplay to the blockchain, SYN CITY, is another promising NFT game project to keep an eye on. Developed by Roy Liu, former Head of Business and Marketing at TRON, and Mihai Pohontu, who was a vice president at Samsung and Disney, the game is also backed by Justin Kan (co-founder of Twitch) and Goat Capital (founded by Zynga co-founder Robin Chan).
SYN CITY is a 100% free-to-play, play-to-earn blockchain game that embraces real-world non-fungible token (NFT) utilities and decentralized finance (DeFi) functions. Because every asset within the game is an NFT, it has real-world value both within the game and in secondary markets. Players can buy, sell, and trade their NFTs to generate additional revenue. In addition, SYN CITY also introduces the first Mafia-as-a-DAO (MaaD) concept to automate decisions and facilitate transactions. The MaaD system will also ensure fair play, transparency and near-instant payments.
The game alone is not pushing the boundaries of NFTs. After flying under the radar, Space is an emerging metaverse-centric project that aims to establish itself as the next frontier of social commerce experiences in the metaverse. As a result of the team's extensive research, Space addresses social and economic aspects, with the seamless integration of services that will enable eCommerce to thrive in the metaverse.
With its fully customizable features and immersive experience, the Space team has already attracted many new users and support from several Tier-1 funds such as Coinfund, Dapper Labs, Digital Currency Group, Animoca and Hof Capital and others.
Simply put, Space is a realistic 3D world where anyone can build a life (and career) however they want. The platform features hyper-realistic graphics and more accessible creation tools with commerce features to ensure that everyone can participate in the virtual ecosystem. Since coming out of stealth mode, the platform has already acquired more than a hundred brand partnerships, spanning the arts, music, and fashion.
Another promising NFT project is Ipermatch, the fantasy management game that combines soccer, fintech and fun in a single video game app, that on August 22 has officially opened registrations to players for the first Initial Item Offering (IIO) ever made by an Italian start-up.
Considering the NFT growth trajectory that has already materialized along with the growing presence of blockchain and metaverse games, it is no exaggeration to say that NFTs are the future. The year 2021 simply showed that the vast potential of NFTs has not yet been realized. The next stage of this trend will undoubtedly unleash new and valuable use cases that can further the innovative potential of this new architecture.