In 2021, NFTs were both the unstoppable force and the immovable object, driving people, brands and creators head-first into the inescapable world of Bored Ape PFPs.
In fact, it probably changed the way we thought about art and cryptocurrency forever.
But in 2022, NFT trading volume has slid 97% since the beginning of the year, according to Gizmodo. While the cryptocurrency crash can certainly be part of the reason, this can also symbolize the end of the one-off half-baked project meant to solely cash in on the craze.
So, what can we expect in 2023?
Collections of every kind are still popping up, as NFTs have started to become more decentralized, away from the grips of the CryptoPunks and BAYC and towards more specific niches. However, there’s still plenty of buzz-worthy and bizarre standouts to keep on your radar.
Here’s our roundup of some of the most impactful NFTs we noted in 2022 that we’re still keeping an eye on in 2023:
Azuki NFTs exploded onto the scene in January of 2022. A PFP project with 10,000 digital avatars, holders could receive access into an elaborate online metaverse community called The Garden, and a slew of other perks, including exclusive live events, collaborations for products and more.
While PFP projects come and go, Azuki has garnered a strong response from the start with the first drop selling out for $30 million within just three minutes. Since then, it’s continued to find success with both physical and digital collaborations. Starting in April, Azuki announced they were partnering with legendary Korean hip-hop group, Epik High, and designing the posters and on stage visuals for their Coachella performance. Then in October, Azuki auctioned off eight golden skateboard NFTs. These boards could be burned in exchange for a physical board instead, the first implementation of what they’ve dubbed, a Physical Backed Token or PBT. These bridge the digital tokens with physical merchandise.
Their most recent project has been a collection with AMBUSH, featuring two hoodies and two pendants. Each item features a bean shaped PBT that can be scanned via phone and then minted and transferred to the owner’s wallet.
The Azuki Golden Skateboard auction is live: https://t.co/6lmiMUCkd7
The Golden Skateboard is the first implementation of the Physical Backed Token (PBT) and marks the beginning of a new era of interactive storytelling. 🧵 pic.twitter.com/SUF1a0PK1k
— Azuki (@AzukiOfficial) October 22, 2022
Perhaps one of the most influential multiverse projects to date belongs to Adidas Originals.
Last December, Adidas began its foray into the web3 world with the launch of The Adidas Originals NFT Collection. Created in collaboration with the BAYC, PUNKS Comic and Gmoney, a total of 30,000 were sold (and a whopping 20,000 were minted early access).
Now in November 2022, Adidas introduced Virtual Gear, its first collection of NFT wearables featuring 16 jackets. Ranging from puffer coats to hoodies to leather jackets, the digital designs are heavily inspired by real life fashion. Owners of previous Adidas Originals: Capsule NFTs could burn their previous NFTs in order to generate new ones in the most recent collection. Those who hold both a virtual wearable and an NFT from either the BAYC, Mutant Ape Yacht Club or Inhabitants “can use a forthcoming PFP tool that enables them to wear their Adidas digital fashion.”
Adidas mentioned they’ll continue to explore web3 possibilities within every platform and experience for their wearables. While they didn’t mention specifics, speculation is that this means avatars could wear or bring these items with them to certain metaverses, like the Sandbox where Adidas owns 144 parcels of land.
INTRODUCING ADIDAS VIRTUAL GEAR
Unveiling the genesis collection of adidas Virtual Gear 🧵👇1/6 pic.twitter.com/FUt9Qhj8VO
— adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals) November 16, 2022
Otherside is one of the most anticipated metaverse projects to date. Founded by Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), the Otherside is an MMORPG within the BAYC universe. The platform includes everything from NFT playable avatars to land buyers can own and sell and plenty of open-world game mechanics.
While there were 200,000 parcels of land within The Otherside for sale during the initial April drop, 55,000 were actually released for sale for those not currently a part of the BAYC community. Parcels sold for a total value of over $300 million, significantly more than the value at launch of the two other most well-known metaverse platforms: Decentraland and The Sandbox.
By July, the beta test had started for 4,500 Bored Ape and Mutant Ape owners, giving them a sneak preview of the upcoming metaverse.
While the project is still in progress, the ability to host thousands of users at once holds great promise.
Image: Outside Magazine
Dubbed the “anti-metaverse” web initiative, the Outerverse is Outside Magazine’s web3 project and its goals are lofty: it hopes to use technology as a way to motivate people to go outside. That means rewards like NFTs and calls with athletes and photographers when users track their runs, skis and hikes.
This is just one of the ways Outside Magazine is continuing to move towards a digital first approach. CEO of Outside Magazine’s parent company, Robin Thurston, says he hopes the Outerverse will bring in younger and more diverse audiences to the company’s media outlets and new outdoor activities.
The response has been mixed. Some athletes are excited about the idea of rewarding outdoor participation in exchange for gear or supplies. Others are less optimistic about “gamifying” the outdoors.
WORLD OF WOMEN
World of Women is an NFT project started by artist Yam Karkai in 2021. She too wanted to join in on the PFP wave of early BAYCs and CryptoPunks but didn’t see any that actually looked like her…or other women at all.
She decided to change that, by launching a collection of 10,000 diverse NFTs that portray women of all skin colors, hairstyles and features. Today, the community is over five thousand strong and celebrates “representation, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for all.” The community also has some large names in entertainment and business, featuring the likes of Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria Baston and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Aside from its mission of women empowerment and education, WoW sets itself apart with its philanthropic efforts. A portion of each sale of a WoW goes to various initiatives, such as Too Young to Wed, (a charity aiming to end child marriage) or She’s the First (an educational nonprofit). Earlier this year, they partnered with climate nonprofit Code Green on a charity NFT drop, raising over $262,000 or 84 ETH and received a 25 million dollar grant from the Sandbox Metaverse for National Women’s Day “to lead and support women into NFTs & the metaverse.”
World of Women x @TheSandboxGame
What better day than #InternationalWomensDay, to announce the launch of
🌷 WoW Foundation 🌷
kicking off with a 25 million dollar grant from The Sandbox to lead and support women into NFTs & the metaverse! 🤩👇https://t.co/cMjVKs7Be7 pic.twitter.com/NDYEAhvLzS
— World of Women (@worldofwomennft) March 8, 2022
Identity 20XY is bringing AR to the blockchain. It grants NFT users the ability to create a mask via filters to use during online meetings, streams and for social media. These masks can hide user identities while creating a unique social persona. Because the masks are NFTs, they’re individual and one of a kind. Even better, users can change the look of their current masks if they want to try something new. Identity 20XY had a robust roadmap planned out from September 2022 to the end of the year, which included everything from the initial drop to the creation of private communities. Much more is said to be in store for 2023.
What’s next for 2023?
2022 has seen a large consolidation of projects. Established names like the Bored Ape Yacht club or Cryptopunks are no longer new but have emerged as leaders within the NFT space.
Other niche and increasingly unique PFPs continue to pop up and appeal to a much more targeted segment of web3 enthusiasts, but NFT use cases have also expanded aside from just art PFPs. NFTs have become everything from membership cards to marketplaces or even accessories for your other NFTs. We’re seeing more and more ways to use NFTs vs yet another collection launch.