A little over a year ago, NFTs burst into the digital world, showing their relevance to industries as diverse as art, games and investments.
Although large companies such as Meta, Twitter and Adidas are working heavily on NFTs projects, little is known about the subject, especially in the Brazilian scenario. What is known is that NFTs application possibilities are endless.
With that in mind, I went after international sources and gathered 11 NFT trends that promise to transform the integration between the physical and digital world in the coming years, showing how web 3.0 is here to stay. Check it out!
1. NFT Games
In 2017, the first successful game that allowed you to collect, breed and sell NFT kittens (that’s right, kittens) appeared: CryptoKitties.
Five years later, we reach 2022, and there are hundreds of games built entirely around NFTs, as well as the integration of NFTs into existing games.
Blockchain technology and NFTs have huge potential for the gaming industry. There are already games like Axie Infinity and Blankos Block Party that are applying play-to-earn (P2E) models that are making players gain real money. They’ve become very popular over the past year – particularly in developing countries – after all, who doesn’t want to make money while playing videogames?
But the trend really rocking the gaming world goes beyond play to win, and has implications far past traditional gaming: the metaverse, a digitally shared space that blends virtual and physical reality.
And it is in this new reality that NFTs become even more relevant! After all, the more we live our lives online, the more we will need secure ways to prove ownership of our identities and digital assets.
Think of the metaverse as the real world, but as a digital representation. You can interact with others, explore, shop and complete challenges to earn real money. What NFTs allow in this space is the same non-fungibility of assets that we see in the real world.
What drives asset value is scarcity and utility. And NFTs allow creators to introduce scarcity and utility into the metaverse, which means that a unique economic system can grow within it.
Metaverse’s leading companies — Decentraland and Sandbox — are using NFTs for just that, tokenizing everything, from usernames to in-game wearables and real estate. And it looks like Twitter and Facebook (Meta) are planning to do the same.
Take the real estate industry, for example. At Decentraland, properties are limited and can be purchased as NFTs. Just like in the real world, the land you buy from Decentraland belongs to you. You can do whatever you want with it: build a house, a business, an art gallery, or run ads.
And just like in the real world, your land is valuable not just because of its usefulness to you, but because of its scarcity and potential usefulness to other people. This means that the more interest in an area, the more valuable the property in that area becomes. Factors such as location, square footage and market trends affect the value of properties. And since you own the property as an NFT, you can sell it for a profit and transfer the property to someone else.
Transforming the market with games
What’s interesting about NFT-based games is that they represent an alternative to the current system for gaming markets, where around $50 billion is spent annually on in-game purchases.
The current system typically limits purchases to just one game and one user, making them essentially useless once the user loses interest in the game. By turning these in-game items into NFTs, they have value in a secondary market and can be transferred to other games and people.
With scarcity, transferability and proof of ownership, players can view their in-game purchases as an investment with potential for future cashback, rather than just temporary entertainment.
2. NFT Tickets
Another NFT trend is the creation of NFT Tickets. It gives more control over the resale market, more secure ticket storage and the opportunity to visualize the tickets as digital collectibles.
With that in mind, the value created for customers who buy event tickets via NFT will be twofold: they will be able to participate in their own live entertainment experience and will have an unique and personal digital asset.
But NFT ticketing goes beyond that. The future of NFTs in ticketing offers lifetime value opportunities, exclusive access and extra incentives for buyers.
There are already some innovative NFT ticketing applications, such as:
- The band Kings of Leon now sells NFTs that give buyers lifetime front-row seats on their tours;
- DC Comics began distributing comic book NFTs along with tickets to the DC FanDome event;
- Sale of an NFT of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon 2021 win, which included two VIP tour experiences and center court tickets to the 2022 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s final, as well as a 30-minute tennis match with Murray himself.
Going even further, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, has announced that he wants to bring NFT tickets to the NBA.
3. NFT Avatars
Profile Picture projects (PFP), also known as NFT avatars, are among the most successful items in the history of NFTs. The stage for these projects was set in 2017 with the launch of an experimental project called CryptoPunks.
At the time, 10,000 CryptoPunk NFTs were algorithmically generated and distributed free of charge to any interested party with an ETH wallet. Fast forward to 2021, the cheapest of the 10,000 is worth over $400,000 and over $4 billion has been traded in the NFT series.
Today, you can find CryptoPunks on Twitter pages of Jay-Z, Visa, Snoop Dogg and Odell Beckham Jr. and even on the red carpet, at the Met Gala, as did the tennis star Serena Williams.
The truth is that NFT avatars have become much more than just a series of JPEGs.
For thousands of people, they act as digital identities and grant admission and participation in highly active communities.
Many of these communities have exclusive member benefits, access to exclusive chat rooms and offer copyrights to the images they purchase. Changing your Twitter PFP to an NFT icon and posting about it attracts community members who will welcome you with open arms, following and interacting with you.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a highly successful NFT avatar series, launched a $200,000 scavenger hunt for their consumers, which was resolved by a team of expert code breakers.
The NFT avatar trend shows no signs of slowing down, and Twitter’s recent announcement about its move to make NFT avatars verifiable should only accelerate its growth.
This is a big step in legitimizing NFTs, when it comes from one of the biggest social networking websites in the world. Giving Twitter users proven ownership of their profile pictures allows people to have a distinct and unique digital identity and assert their membership as part of the NFT community.
4. NFT Fragments
We already know that some NFTs are prohibitively expensive. But there is a new trend that is making high-value NFTs more liquid and accessible to investors: fragmentation.
Fragmentation is essentially splitting an NFT into smaller pieces (ERC-20 tokens) so that people can buy small parts of an expensive NFT.
It’s easier to think of NFT sharing as stocks in a company. When you buy a stock, you own a small part of that company.
Likewise, when shredding an NFT, it can be split into millions of pieces, or fragments, and people can buy their share of the NFT at a lower price.
The strange thing here is that non-fungible token shards are actually fungible, meaning they can be exchanged or replaced with an identical item.
Going back to the analogy of a company’s stock, while there isn’t an identical company out there that Microsoft can be exchanged with, your shares in Microsoft are the same shares that Bill Gates owns – although you almost certainly have less of them.
While companies and NFTs are not fungible, shares of companies and NFT fractions most certainly are.
The infamous Doge meme was purchased as a NFT for $4 million earlier this year. Its owner has sliced the NFT into billions of pieces, allowing users to buy their share of Doge for less than a dollar.
Investors can vote on future NFT decisions, trade fractions of $DOG and own a piece of internet history:
“Doge ownership gives you access to a unique set of activities, both online and offline. Consider this your lifetime ticket to a perpetual festival of entertainment brought to you directly by the Doge community.”
Even Picasso’s artwork was fractionated as an NFT, allowing 4,000 lucky bidders to acquire part ownership of the Fillette au beret piece of art.
5. Digital Twin NFTs
“All consumer products in the next 10 years will have digital twins and this will only be possible through NFT trends.”
This is the bold claim of Tether co-founder, William Quigley.
So what is a digital twin and why does it belong on this list?
A digital twin is a digital copy of a physical product or asset. Essentially, it allows for a digital record of ownership of physical assets.
You might ask why anyone would need an NFT when they have the actual physical version of it.
The answer lies in the question: how can anyone be sure their asset is the real deal?
In 2019, trade in counterfeit goods accounted for 3.3% of total world trade. A recent report found that up to 20% of all paintings owned by museums may be inauthentic. As far as the sneaker market is concerned, this problem is so big that StockX, a shoe verification and resale platform, is now valued at nearly $4 billion.
Aaron Aguilar, UL’s brand protection manager, told the New York Times:
“The quality of counterfeit products has vastly improved from what it used to be and in pretty much every industry you can imagine. If you can earn a dollar, then a counterfeiter will find a way to exploit that demand.”
The history and authenticity of a real-world item is always uncertain, especially when purchased from retailers. Sure, the new shoes you bought on Amazon look like Nikes, but if you’re not buying them directly from Nike, how can you be sure?
In short, it is getting more and more difficult to identify real assets from fake ones.
Digital twin NFTs.
With digital twin NFTs, physical items would be linked to an NFT and stored on a decentralized blockchain, which is virtually impossible to manipulate.
Again: NFTs are not the physical items, but a tool for verifying these items. Think of it as a secure, publicly accessible receipt or certificate of authenticity that contains the item’s complete history.
Even this certificate would completely change the resale markets.
This means that when Nike makes shoes, the brand also mints NFTs to go with them. When you buy a pair of shoes, you get not only the shoes, but the NFT digital twin as well. You can then sell the shoes and NFT to someone else, who can clearly see the full history of the product.
You can easily imagine high school kids in 2030 showing up to school in new shoes, right? Along with their Jordans, they would need to show the contents of their digital wallets in order for people to believe them.
However, that could be before 2030, with brands like Nike and Louis Vuitton already jumping into NFT trends to fight increasingly sophisticated counterfeiters.
6. AI NFTs
Along with blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big thing in technology. So it should come as no surprise that those two are being combined.
The first big trend here is the creation of NFTs by AI.
This is not a first. In 2018, Obvious Art sold a piece of art created by an AI called GAN at Christie’s for over $400,000. But the introduction of NFTs has made the value of digital assets widely recognized, and today new AI projects are releasing new works of art and creating them as NFTs every day.
The art below, Arlequín, was created by an AI named Alicia.
Alicia studied over 9,100 paintings by renowned artists, completing 300,000 machine learning drills to understand the artists’ patterns and techniques. This produced Arlequín, just one of many unique paintings Alicia created.
It was purchased as an NFT for just over $400 (0.1 ETH) on AI Made Art.
Imagine explaining that to your parents. The artwork is not only digitally stored on the blockchain, but also created by artificial intelligence.
The second major intersection of NFTs and AI is smart NFTs (iNFTs).
iNFTs are NFTs that are given an AI personality. You can chat with them, they can learn new things and change their personality, and they “live” on the blockchain.
A company called Alethea AI is driving the iNFT trend. They sold the iNFT below, Alice, for nearly $500,000 at Sotheby’s.
Alethea AI recently received $16 million in funding from major players in the NFT market. They used this to create their own metaverse called Noah’s Ark, filled with iNFTs.
At Noah’s Ark, they plan to introduce a new revenue model called “train-to-earn”, allowing players to train their iNFTs to become smarter and earn money by participating in a “battle of the minds”.
These iNFTs could one day be released into other metaverses like Sandbox and Decentraland, where users can interact with them as if they were other players in the game.
In the future, your iNFT will be able to live in your virtual home in the Facebook metaverse. When you’re not online, your friends can drop by your virtual home to chat with your personal AI, which is imbued with your personality. It will explain to them where you are and tell them a little about what you’ve been up to lately. The next time you log in, it will be waiting for you and will tell you that James visited and asked about your family – or something like that.
7. NFT Streaming and Entertainment
NFTs are often praised for establishing a creative economy. They have given thousands of artists the chance to produce and sell their creations on their own terms. But the potential for the NFT creator’s economy goes far beyond empowering visual artists and changing the art world.
DJ 3LAU was the first musician to tokenize an album, earning $11.6 million from the 33 NFTs of the album he sold. His next project, Royal, seeks to shake up the music streaming world.
With $16 million in funding, Royal aims to enable music ownership through tokenization. These music NFTs can be fractional by musicians and can sell part of the music ownership to fans and investors while retaining their majority ownership.
The royalties for streaming the music would then be distributed among the many owners of that fractional asset.
Imagine this: an artist you love creates a new track that you think will be the next big thing. You see they created this as an NFT, split the NFT and are selling shares of the song through Royal. You buy up to 30% of the music. A month later, the song goes viral. Everyone is streaming, TikTok influencers are dancing, and Coca-Cola wants to use it in their new commercial.
Along with the artist who made that song, you would earn money from the song that became a hit. You could play the song at parties and tell your friends that you own it. You could even sell your share of the music for a profit.
This allows fans to invest in and support artists, and artists to give back to their strongest supporters by sharing their income – when (and if) the music makes money.
NFT Movies and TV Shows
It might look like this isn’t real, but a recent star-studded NFT animated series called Stoner Cats included voiceovers from Mila Kunis, Chris Rock, Jane Fonda, Seth MacFarlane and Vitalik Buterin (the creator of Ethereum).
It’s a show about a group of cats who become self-aware. I would say more about this, but you can’t watch the series unless you buy a Stoner Cat NFT.
Stoner Cats cost around $1,000 (0.3 ETH) at the moment, and there are only 10,400 left. There are almost 5,000 cat owners, and those are the only people who have access to the show.
You might ask why someone would pay $1,000 to watch an animated series. But buyers get more than that.
By purchasing a Stoner Cat, you are helping to finance the future of the series. As a cat owner, you can vote on the show’s plot for future episodes. You become part of the Stoner Cat community. And you have an asset that can grow in value if the program and project grows in popularity.
Just like in the world of NFT music streaming, Stoner Cats is removing the middlemen, creating a new space exclusive for the animators and their fans.
And this is just the beginning for NFTs in the entertainment world:
- Fox Entertainment is investing $100 million in NFT projects, including a new animated series on the blockchain;
- Warner Bros. released collectible NFTs along with the premiere of the movie Dune;
- Vuele recently released an Anthony Hopkins film as an NFT;
- Steve Aoki secured funding for a new NFT show;
- Disney is releasing digital collectible NFTs combined with Disney Plus subscriptions.
8. NFTs and Fine Art
Anyone who knows anything about NFTs knows that they revolutionized the concept of digital art. We’ve already seen fractional Picasso NFTs and AI-generated art, but there are a few other trends in NFT art that show potential to shake up the traditional art world.
NFT Art Backgrounds
Last year Justin Sun, founder of cryptocurrency platform TRON, raised $30 million from Picasso, Warhol and Beeple and turned the artworks into NFTs – a bulletproof way to capture the attention of the art world.
“We estimate that 50% of the world’s best artists and artworks will be registered as NFTs in the next decade. And that’s where JUST NFT can come into play,” said Sun in an open letter to the community.
If Sun is right, we will likely see not just new digital artwork created and sold as NFTs, but galleries and private funds minting twin digital artworks.
QR codes can appear next to all paintings in the galleries to verify their authenticity. Art investors can demand NFTs along with the purchase of classic artworks. Virtual galleries can keep up with those in the real world, allowing people to visit the Louvre in the metaverse.
Metaverse Galleries and Auction Houses
Sotheby’s, the 250-year-old art auction house, is already moving in that direction. They recently launched their own Sotheby’s Metaverse, where they showcase NFT artwork that is for sale and hold auction events.
Its latest event, Natively Digital 1.2, had a whopping $18.6 million in sales.
These NFT trends show that digital art is not just for new and young artists, but is entering the traditional art world and could replace them in the long-term future.
9. NFTs and Health
Everyone who works with the digital economy knows that data is the most valuable asset in this market. However, most people still don’t see ways to monetize their personal data.
Aimedis is working to change that. They launched the world’s first medical and scientific NFT marketplace, allowing medical data to be bought and sold as NFTs.
Through Aimedis, patients could turn their medical data into NFTs to be sold to pharmaceutical companies. This allows patients to own and monetize their personal medical information, providing new revenue streams for those willing to participate.
But medical NFTs get even weirder.
Singapore-based start-up Engin created an NFT project called Health Hero, which has a simple mission: to bring health and happiness to over 1 billion people.
How are they planning to achieve this? Through wellness NFTs, known as W-NFTs.
When you sign up for Health Hero, you get a W-NFT that links to tracking devices and apps like Apple Health, Google Fit, and FitBit.
By exercising, meditating and eating well, you can grow and develop your W-NFT, giving it new unique traits and making it increasingly rare.
These W-NFTs can be bought and sold. So the more you exercise, the rarer and more valuable your W-NFT becomes.
Before you ask: of course, they have their own metaverse, Health Hero City.
Deloitte predicts that blockchain technology can transform healthcare by “putting the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of healthcare data.”
With issues around counterfeit vaccination passports and concerns about vulnerabilities in centrally storing sensitive medical information data, NFTs and blockchain could be increasingly integrated into medicine and healthcare systems in the years to come.
10. NFTs and Finance
In the third quarter of 2021, NFTs sales volume was estimated at $10.7 billion. This kind of money cannot be spent without catching the attention of the financial world.
The NFT market is valued in billions of dollars, but NFTs are speculative and non-fungible assets. Just like real estate, you can’t make money from NFTs just by buying and holding them.
They need to be sold and moved around the market for the NFT economy to flow and for investors to profit.
New services are enabling this by using NFTs as collateral for loans. Like splitting, this allows NFT investors to regain the liquidity of their investments without sacrificing ownership.
Let’s say you have a million dollar NFT in your digital wallet, but no money in your bank. You see an investment opportunity that you believe will result in valuable returns, but you are not willing to give up your precious NFT. Services like Drops allow you to borrow money by placing your NFTs as collateral. Think of it like a mortgage: you leverage the asset you own to create liquidity.
The world of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance is booming, and NFTs definitely have a place at the table.
Among the speculations about the future of NFTs in finance are claims that NFTs can solve the problems of financing long supply chains.
Numerous venture capitalist companies are now only focused on investing in NFT and Web 3.0 projects.
Even Visa is getting into the NFT scene. They spent $150,000 on a CryptoPunk and announced that they “will lay the groundwork to enable the adoption of NFTs and other assets in the future.”
11. Scaling Blockchains, Scaling Websites
Scalability is a hot topic in the cryptocurrency world. As the acceptance of cryptocurrencies and NFTs increases, thought leaders in the crypto market are concerned that blockchains will not be able to handle the increase in data storage and transaction volume.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin has written extensively about this. Elon Musk tweeted about it. And scalability is the main selling point behind several new crypto projects.
There is a lot of focus on this and a lot of minds working to solve blockchain scalability, with a lot of hope for Ethereum 2.0. So here we are going to focus on the type of scalability that is a little simpler and more solvable: website and application scalability.
Just like blockchains, websites and servers are not infinitely scalable. Websites have limited capabilities and many new NFT projects are facing the problem of not being able to scale their systems to meet the high demand for NFTs.
NFT companies are quickly realizing that interest in NFTs often exceeds the capacity of their websites. With customers expecting fair, orderly and hassle-free product launches, NFT companies are looking for new ways to control the traffic spikes that tag along NFT launches. And virtual waiting rooms are playing an important role in this process.
Waiting room for the best NBA players
With a virtual lounge, when the capacity of a website or application is exceeded, visitors are redirected to a branded lounge on another server using a standard HTTP 302. They are then restricted back to the website on a first-come, first-served basis, allowing sites to control online traffic and create a pleasant user experience.
Marketplaces like NBA Top Shot, DraftKings, and Sandbox have implemented virtual waiting rooms to manage their traffic and ensure their NFT launches run fairly and smoothly.
As NFTs are adopted by big companies and celebrities and continue to make headlines and disrupt major industries, the demand for NFTs will continue to increase.
Developers are working hard to ensure that blockchains scale to meet this demand. Meanwhile, many NFT companies are not addressing the issue of scaling their own web services.
The future of NFTs
The NFT world is changing fast. While you’re reading this article, new NFT projects pop up every day. From the Busan Metropolitan Government in Korea announcing an NFT conference, to the International Cricket Council launching cricket NFTs, to CoinRunners crowdfunding a movie selling NFT.
The few consistent NFT trends over the past year have been their steady growth, growing interest in them, and their ever-expanding applications.
The future these NFT trends depict is interesting. While many people are concerned about the implications of the metaverse and the rise of AI, it’s a future filled with possibilities.
It’s a future that bridges the gap between consumers and creators, gives value and security to digital assets and that, for better or worse, will shake the world.
Did you enjoy reading about those 11 NFT trends for years to come? Do you want to get on this wave and become a reference on the subject?
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