NFTs had an interesting year in 2022 as the world saw numerous emerging NFT trends. Major companies got involved with non-fungible tokens, crypto exchanges ventured into the NFT space, and many projects tried to find an audience with music NFTs. There is no guarantee of what the future will hold for non-fungible assets, but there are several trends we're sure to see more of in 2023.
Big brands and NFTs
NFTs are an obvious choice for well-known companies looking to reward customers for brand loyalty. The assets are unique, traceable, and don't have shipping costs like physical goods.
In September 2022, Starbucks announced Starbucks Odyssey, an extension of its rewards program that uses blockchain technology to reward customers with digital assets. The beta experience officially launched in December 2022, allowing selected participants to make "journeys," like a virtual tour of a coffee farm. They also could take part in trivia quizzes and interactive games. Starbucks customers earn NFT assets for completing these journeys.
Brady Brewer, Starbucks executive vice president and chief marketing officer, says: "We are leveraging web3 technology to reward and connect with our members in new ways, such as offering collectible, ownable digital stamps, a new digital community, and opening access to new benefits and immersive coffee experiences — both physically and digitally."
Starbucks isn't the only major brand to embrace web3; Nike, Stella Artois, Wendy's, Adidas, and Walmart are just a few of the big names getting involved with blockchain technology and NFTs.
NFTs as a ticket to unique experiences
Non-fungible tokens are becoming a popular option for tickets and entry tokens to experiences and events. For example, Casa de Campo Resort & Villas announced a partnership with Pinktada in June 2022 to sell "room-night tokens" that grant access to discounted room rates. Customers can buy and sell these tokens if their plans change, offering travelers a flexible way to find accommodations.
"Pinktada has created a visionary booking model that allows for both price optimization and flexibility at the same time, and we are honored to be one of the first hotels featured on the platform," says Jason Kycek, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Casa de Campo.
NFTs in music
In 2021, Jack Dorsey announced that his crypto-centric company Block is interested in using NFTs to compensate artists on Tidal. It's one of many ways this new technology is being used to create new revenue streams for musicians.
In March 2022, Limewire announced it was coming back as a music-focused NFT marketplace. According to Paul Zehetmayr, LimeWire Co-CEO: "The biggest challenge with digital collectibles and the broader crypto market in general is that it's really limited to a small group of savvy users ... We want to remove all those obstacles and make it easy for people to participate, while at the same time offering an exciting platform for crypto natives."
Music NFTs enable artists to monetize their music in new ways by selling NFTs and earning royalties from secondary sales. These benefits can be passed on to NFT collectors as well. For example, 3LAU, a famous producer and DJ, co-founded a company called Royal that lets users invest in NFTs that earn them streaming royalties on associated songs.
Music NFTs are still in their infancy, but we're sure to see them evolve in the coming years. Music might turn out to be a form of digital content that's particularly well-suited to the NFT space.
NFT and gaming
NFTs could revolutionize the gaming industry, allowing players to own a unique digital asset representing an in-game item. Still, the gaming community has yet to embrace this integration. For example, Ubisoft was hit with considerable backlash when it announced it would be adding NFTs to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. Fans were completely uninterested in the NFT collection, forcing Ubisoft to abandon the plan after only a few months.
Ubisoft isn't the only gaming company to be met with criticism over NFTs. In July 2022, Square Enix announced it would release NFTs tied to physical merchandise to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy 7. The game is about a character joining an eco-terrorist organization to prevent an environmental catastrophe. Hence, fans were furious when it was thought the NFTs would be released on the Ethereum blockchain, which, at the time, was known for its bloated energy requirements. After learning of the backlash, the company decided to release the NFTs on a Polkadot side-chain with lower energy requirements.
Despite the lackluster response from fans, we're sure to see more gaming NFT collections released in the coming years. On the other hand, play-to-earn games explicitly built for NFT enthusiasts, such as Gods Unchained, remain popular. This gaming NFT project saw roughly $8 million in NFT sales volume through December 2022.
According to DappRadar, gaming NFTs have a greater number of unique active wallets and transactions than any other NFT category by a significant margin, making them one of the top NFT trends.
NFT and DeFi
NFTs are used in decentralized finance in numerous ways. For example, some decentralized exchanges let borrowers use NFT art as collateral for decentralized loans. Others allow users to buy and sell fractionalized portions of NFTs. Some companies even sell NFTs representing fractional ownership of real-world assets, such as real estate, gold, and diamonds.
Ready for NFT trends?
NFT creators are finding new uses for their digital art, collectibles, and utility tokens year over year. As time passes, we'll continue to see the NFT space evolve from a fringe community of blockchain enthusiasts to an everyday concept used by major companies, celebrities, and people with little-to-no blockchain exposure. People will talk about their favorite NFT personality and become quite comfortable in the realm of virtual assets.
The Hedera network is an ideal choice for those looking to create or trade NFTs. It offers low, predictable fees that don't change from day to day. Also, according to the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies, Hedera has the lowest carbon footprint of any public network, so you'll never have to worry about harming the environment with your superhero NFTs. Hedera's NFT infrastructure provides the tools that developers need to get started, from minting solutions like MintBar to NFT-storage solutions like HashPack.