Depending on who you ask, NFTs are either the first step into the next stage of digital connection in the metaverse, or they’re a total sham, and a waste of money, with little immediate or longer-term value.
Personally, I would lean more towards the latter, especially given the precedent we have for how people actually use digital avatars in current online environments. Part of the broader concept of NFTs, which are mostly focused on profile pictures for social media profiles (PFPs) at present, is that these unique character depictions will eventually be available for use as 3D, full-body skins in the theoretical metaverse, expanding their value beyond static images. But in reality, in existing 3D game worlds like Roblox and Fortnite, where people can already purchase their own character skins, having a unique or individual look isn’t the biggest focus.
The highest selling skins on Fortnite, for example, are not the most unique looking, they’re the ones that look the coolest, or represent something about each players’ real-world affiliations. Fortnite’s NFL team skins, for example, which are a basic NFL jersey on a character wearing a football helmet, have been purchased over 3 million times by players, becoming one of the most popular skins ever, while on Roblox, its Adidas branded virtual clothing has been a major seller.
Based on this, it’s probably safe to assume that, when the metaverse is developed, it’s likely that users will be looking to create virtual depictions of themselves along similar lines and trends, which is why projects like Ready Player Me are set to be more impactful than Bored Apes or pixelated characters. Snapchat’s new ‘Avatar’ Lens also probably provides a more realistic window on what people will gravitate towards on this front.
But NFTs, at least right now, are hugely popular, and with so many people switching their profile images to PFPs, it’s worth, at the least, getting an understanding of the trend, and why people are so excited about the concept of supporting digital artists and building community around these projects.
Maybe they take off, maybe they fall flat. Time will tell – but to provide some more insight, the team from Visual Capitalist have put together this overview.