Unless you were completely unplugged for all of 2021, you probably noticed crypto and NFTs, in particular, had quite the year.
The largest NFT Marketplace, OpenSea, saw over $10 billion traded in 2021 alone. But in case you were hanging out all year in a cabin on Savary Island, let’s review what happened and where I’m placing my bets for 2022.
2021 The Year of WAGMI (We’re All Gonna Make It)
For many, 2021 was the first time they heard about NFTs; however, they have actually been around for quite some time. In fact, local Vancouver company Dapper Labs has been building NFTs for years. One of the earliest NFTs was a cute cat-themed collection called CryptoKitties, which launched in late 2017. Dapper Labs also launched NBA Top Shot in late 2020, which is arguably what made NFTs mainstream for the first time by bringing thousands of basketball fans into the fold.
Shortly after NBA Top Shot started taking off, you had an explosion of interest in one of one NFTs by artists. Beeple made headlines by selling the first-ever NFT auctioned by Christie’s for a whopping USD $69 million. Numerous established artists like Damien Hirst launched NFT collections. Emerging artists like Ghxsts made NFTs that ultimately sold for millions as well. Even some of the most famous memes like the Overly Attached Girlfriend and Charlie Bit My Finger sold for USD $411,000 and $760,999, respectively.
NFTs also made their impact known in the gaming world. Perhaps none are more significant than Axie Infinity, where players battle cute characters. Today it has 2.8M daily active users and $3.6 billion has been traded on their marketplace. Other games like Skyweaver launched offering players the ability to battle cards, like Magic The Gathering and earn NFTs as they level up.
However, if any trend dominated 2021, it was that of the 10K collection. In short, it is a collection of 10,000 NFTs with a similar theme. For example, the now-iconic collection Bored Ape Yacht Club “BAYC” launched with an initial sale price of .08 ETH (USD $235). Today, a single BAYC NFT resells for a minimum of 93 ETH (USD $226,435). The success of collections like BAYC, Cool Cats, and World of Women lead to thousands of new collections launching before the end of 2021 (Image above is Cool Cat #3424 and World of Women #507 owned by cocoNFT).
With so many projects launching, the community became critical for projects to succeed. Typically, these communities emerge in Discord servers and on Twitter. NFT traders even began calling themselves “vibe analysts” as they needed to decipher the strength of one community from the next.
WAGMI (pronounced wag-me) became an almost rallying cry for the space as a way to demonstrate the community spirit behind NFTs being more than just purchasing a JPEG. This WAGMI spirit and the focus on community make NFTs intriguing and are one of the key things that developed throughout 2021.
What’s in Store For 2022
With all of that in the past, let’s turn our attention to what’s likely going to happen and the future of NFTs in 2022. These are the three key themes I expect we’ll see with NFTs this year.
1. NFTs Will Become Useable
While buying and selling JPEGs stored on the blockchain makes sense for some people today, for NFTs to truly make it to mainstream adoption, they’re going to need to deliver real-world value for holders. From the metaverse to real-life benefits, we’re going to see projects that bring value to holding an NFT and ones that go above and beyond the hope of its prices increasing in the future. We saw efforts to do this in 2021, but even big events like NFT NYC were unable to do their ticketing through NFTs. Sign me up for that VIP ice cream NFT!
2. Big tech gets on board
We’ve seen brands get in on NFTs like Budweiser, Adidas, and Pepsi; however, the real trend is going to be set by big tech. TikTok did an NFT drop in 2021, but it wasn’t a product that millions of users could use. Clearly, Facebook is on board since they renamed the whole company to Meta, and recently, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube announced that they are exploring ideas for NFTs. The most significant move so far has been by Twitter which recently allowed users to verify they own the NFT that they set as their profile picture. As big tech gets on board with NFTs we’ll see acceptance for the medium grow exponentially and help fuel the useability of NFTs.
3. Going from Hundreds of Thousands to Millions
One of the things that makes me most excited about NFTs is how early everything still is. It’s easy to lose sight of these when you’re in a Discord with 15,000 other people who are already bought in. But I believe the most significant thing that will change the NFT landscape in 2022 will be the continued onboarding and adoption of new users.
This is why we started cocoNFT, a tech platform giving creators the ability to sell their Instagram posts as NFTs, monetizing their feeds in a simple and streamlined way and removing the barriers to entry for people who are new to the NFT space and want to get involved. Currently, only a few hundred thousand wallets are buying and selling NFTs. It’s a very small starting point when you compare that to the larger creator economy and even social network user numbers.
New entrants to the NFT space will bring about all new ideas of NFTs and who they’re for. It’s this innovation that I’m most excited for because there are endless possibilities for what can be created. It’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about what we’re doing at cocoNFT to onboard millions of non-crypto familiar creators to NFTs.
These are just my thoughts on where the NFT space is headed in 2022! I’d love to hear from you and get your perspective. Send me your thoughts on Twitter @HootReid.
Reid Robinson is the co-founder of cocoNFT.