Trend Highlight – NFT Rental
In-game spending is a massive market, estimated at $65B.
But in-game assets have traditionally been very illiquid. Millions of gamers spend hours every day accumulating everything from swords to custom skins. Though unlike in the real world, where work often can be traded for value, gamers are usually unable to monetize this work.
But converting the assets to NFTs finally brings liquidity, likely growing the market even more, as millions of gamers can start to monetize the hours they spend.
And with the growth of NFT renting, there’s even more liquidity.
More broadly, new products and services are constantly making previously-illiquid markets more liquid – like Hipcamp which brought liquidity to millions of landowners who were land rich but cash poor, by letting them rent their land out to campers.
Trend Highlight – Physical IRL collectibles meet digital collectibles
The most expensive painting ever sold was priced at nearly half a billion dollars, yet it’s free to look at for anyone with an internet connection. This is because there is, and will only ever be, one true version and because scarcity drives value. To date though, there hasn’t been a tool to create scarcity for digital products. Blockchain allows this and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are the new asset class everyone is now talking about, exemplified by the explosive growth of NBA Top Shot and the recent $69M purchase of a piece of virtual art at a Christie's auction. Since digital assets can be freely copied and viewed, everyone has access to them, but NFTs represent a secure, verifiable way to give exactly one person ownership.
Sorare is a company that produces licensed NFT-based sports cards for fantasy sports. This combines the addictive nature of fantasy sports with the speculative excitement of buying, selling, and trading scarce digital assets.
Because NFT transactions are recorded on a blockchain, they can be viewed and tracked by anyone. This creates a market for data aggregators adjacent to every major NFT. Soraredata.com is growing as fast as sorare.com, albeit from a smaller base, and alongside the widely-talked-about NBA Top Shot is the domain topshotdata.com, which has already been registered and is awaiting a landing page. There's a precedent for this working: CoinMarketCap.com, a site that tracks cryptocurrency valuations, is one of the 400 most-visited sites in the world. Data sites use the picks-and-shovels-in-a-gold-rush model: while any given NFT might be under or overpriced, the aggregate behavior of all of the NFT buyers and sellers creates business opportunities.
Trend Highlight – What Horse Racing has to do with NFTs
Horse racing, once a massive business, was the only legal form of gambling in the US outside of Las Vegas until 1978.
But the sport shrunk over time. Other forms of gambling later became legal and grew in popularity and the proliferation of cable TV plus the remote control meant horse racing’s slow pace cast it out of favor. As well, the lifespan of star racehorses compared to their human counterparts in other sports led to lower momentum around particular horses, and general concerns for animal cruelty made viewers less interested.
Zed Run is a rapidly growing company that brings horse racing back in digital form. Rather than focusing on gambling, Zed Run lets users breed digital racing horses. The horses have traits that affect their odds of winning races, and they can be bred to create new horses which inherit some of these traits in a partially randomized way, similar to real-life racehorse breeding. Zed Run charges a percentage of the "stud fee" for breeding, a mechanism that allows them to monetize a part of the game that both involves wagering on randomized outcomes and doesn't look like gambling.
The game hosts continuous races, where players pay to enter their digital horses and then collect prize money if the horses win. As the NFT space heats up, it’s reviving many forms of entertainment and collectibles that were previously declining in the face of more engaging digital options.
Zed Run exemplifies another modern business model: instead of selling a product directly, Zed Run operates a platform and takes a cut of other participants' economic activity. The hard part about building platforms is that they're two-sided markets, so they're useless to each side until the other has critical mass. In digital goods, it's possible to fix this by creating the goods and then encouraging users to trade them. Since it's a platform for exchanging virtual goods rather than physical ones, the default gross margin approaches 100%, meaning that Zed Run can take the kind of cut that more traditional platforms spend years to achieve.
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