The NFT revolution has created a new marketplace for digital art to be bought and sold. The history of NFT is just a year or two old.
CryptoPunks: The 24px x 24px wonders
At first sight, these look like those little junk images one found in system folders like relativized_files. Yet, these are algorithmically created artwork, made in punk style. The best among them, the cigar smoking punk, sold for $9 million. The images are mostly of guys and girls, with hardly any feature visible except large, square shape contours. There are also apes and zombies and aliens.
The NFT trend began with a fixed number of 10,000 cryptopunks stored on Ethereum. These are credited as the very first NFTs that started the CryptoArt movement. They also inspired ERC721 for creating more and more digital art.
Like many things, cryptopunks were free, and anyone could collect them. Their value slowly rose with auction and offers, from zero to a few cents, then to single and double digit dollars. The current Lowest Price Punk Available goes for 21.49 ETH ($62,733.61 USD).
The cryptopunks live here: https://www.larvalabs.com/cryptopunks
CryptoKitties: The Silly, Profitable Game
In 2017 at an ether hackathon in Waterloo, a team displayed some cute cryptokitties that could actually be bred on the blockchain. This was a game where the player could collect two cryptokitties and breed a new one that displayed some new properties or features. The game was basic, and the aim only to generate new cats of new varieties. The new crypto kitty however could be sold.
CryptoKitties was the first time perhaps that the financially driven blockchain was used to create a non-financial, entertainment product. The crypto kitties went on to make history. The Founder Cat #18 sold for 253 ETH ($110,000 at the time). Another kitty, Dragon was sold for $170,000 in 2018.
Here is the home of crypto-kitties: https://www.cryptokitties.co/
Post Crypto-Kitties: Hot Potatoes
After the hype cooled down, the cryptokitty app was re-used by several developers to create more games using its smart contract, like race the kitties, kitty hats, or create a new KittyVerse. A notorious app, Hot Potatoes, was a celebrity NFT game that attracted some criticism. Venture capital was however attracted to the NFT space, investing millions in CryptoKitties.
Many other NFT gaming sites that emerged included Rare Bits. Mythical Games. Immutable. Lucid Sight. They were followed in 2019 by Axie Infinity and Neon District, and the tracking site, nonfungible.com.
Digital Art, Games and Collectibles (trading cards) catch up
Digital art is a unique genre by itself. Think of DeviantArt. For tech savvy artists, NFT has come as a new breath of life and today for novices and those who aren’t tech savvy, several NFT minting platforms have taken birth.
Some early platforms: SuperRare, Known Origin, MakersPlace, and Rare Art Labs.
Cent: a social network with a unique micropayment system.
Digital Art Chain: Allows making NFT from any digital image.
Mintbase and Mintable
Kred: Made for influencers to make business cards, collectibles and coupons.
Enjin: Went for an ICO in 2017. Created a “multiverse” platform of games on ERC1155.
Immutable: Their Gods Unchained is a hugely popular game. Immutable had a $5 million pre-sale.
Crypto Stamp: Started by the Austrian Postal service. These physical stamps carried a private key to be scratched open, and the key came with a little ETH and a digital stamp that owner could list on OpenSea.
Ticket sales in NFT by events like NFT.NYC and Token Summit in 2019.
Today’s NFT minting platforms allow for more features, like creating bulk tokens and rich media. Thus today musicians too can create NFTs. There is currently no spot market for NFTs and the exchanges remain peer-to-peer. Given the way NFTs allow for digital art to be owned and traded, one can expect more growth for this nascent technology-inspired marketplace.