Learn: Why Meta Matters in NFTs?
In NFTs, meta refers to trends, styles and concepts that influence the direction of the space. In 2023, expect big-name dominance, physical and digital connections, and Layer 2 activity.
It would be inaccurate to claim that NFTs creators, collectors and traders don’t care about the value of their assets in dollar terms. However, there is, in part, an NFT outlook by which 1 ETH equals 1 ETH, meaning that NFT prices are tracked in crypto terms, rather than fiat amounts.
This perspective pays a little less attention to short-term crypto prices, preferring to focus on what is being built in the NFT ecosystem, while maintaining an underlying confidence in the long-term future of ETH, and some of the other cryptocurrencies in which NFTs are priced.
A major benefit to this mindset is that it’s more natural to maintain a relatively optimistic sentiment when that sentiment is not bound up with day-to-day price movements. Set free from endless market analysis, it becomes easier for NFT participants to hone in on creativity, art, and tech practicalities.
That last aspect, practicality, may seem counterintuitive, considering that NFTs are often disparaged by observers who haven't recognized what non-fungible forms of crypto might actually be used for.
However, utility is a constant point of discussion in NFT communities, with constructive debates around how NFTs can provide value, and what kinds of practical facilities they might enable, across sectors.
While crypto prices relating to the underlying blockchain are not always the most upfront part of NFT discussion, something that is sometimes tracked and speculated over more closely is the concept of meta.
The word meta has, in tech and crypto worlds, come to be associated with metaverse development, and may bring to mind the parent company of Facebook, which famously rebranded itself as Meta in 2021.
However, when it comes to NFTs, which, in true countercultural style, have incubated their own modes of speech and idiosyncratic terminologies, meta has its own distinct meaning. Within this context, meta refers to the concepts, memes and stylistic leanings that are driving the NFT space at any given time.
NFT meta can originate from a single project that becomes influential, and then shifts the direction that incoming new collections begin to take. Certainly, some meta-following newcomers are simple copycats, but, at other times, meta is played with and evolves in interesting ways, as newer collections pick up on what works and improve or adapt it.
There is an advantage to be had, then, in identifying patterns and trends in NFT meta, and picking up early on new pivots and paths before they have fully solidified.
Looking back, 2021 was a game-changing year for NFTs, in which, riding high on bull market exuberance, they crashed through into mainstream awareness, and the NFT space expanded tremendously.
We watched prices soar, and the 10,000 item PFP drop became a mainstay, while apes, punks and pixel art were dominant aesthetics.
In addition, the end of that year saw an explosion of interest in the metaverse, and while metaverse development had been ongoing since before then, it was in 2021 that an understanding of the relationship between NFTs, crypto and a working metaverse started to click beyond those involved in blockchain development.
In 2022, there were stylistic shifts in NFT collections towards Japanese anime themes, while a practical focus on the concept of storytelling became prominent. At the same time, we have witnessed a handful of projects establishing dominance as the major players in the NFT markets.
It also became apparent, particularly towards the end of the year, that NFTs were no longer the preserve of crypto obsessives and digitally-immersed online collectors, as major brands lined up web3 plans.
Although NFTs are still a nascent market, there are already several projects that have laid down solid foundations, established high prices that get bought up quickly when they dip, and appear likely to continue driving forwards.
Yuga Labs (the creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club) is currently unassailable as the NFT powerhouse of note, and may heavily influence metaverse innovation, with the assistance of partnered metaverse developer Improbable, over the coming years.
CryptoPunks is the originator of the 10,000 item PFP format, crossed over into the realm of prestige traditional auction houses, and has written itself a place in art history. On top of that, it should be noted that the rights to CryptoPunks were, in March 2022, acquired by Yuga Labs.
After those big hitters, the Azuki project looked to be in a strong position, and through its PBT (Physical Backed Token) developments, it is creating links between the physical and the digital.
This connecting of physical and digital items looks set to be a growing area of interest and could be further driven by traditional brands, based, of course, in the real world, entering the web3 sphere, which means putting a foot into a digital world that incorporates ownership.
Further innovation in 2023 is likely to involve not only Ethereum, but, increasingly, Layer 2 solutions such as Arbitrum and Optimism, and the Polygon sidechain is likely to play a substantial web3 role, as it is already picking up significant developer activity.
When it comes to blockchain gaming, web3 proponents are still waiting for a breakthrough title to convince the skeptics. Whether or not this occurs in 2023 remains a matter of speculation, high-quality games are not produced overnight, but it’s plausible that, over the coming year, we edge closer to a playable release in which gameplay is center stage, while NFTs and crypto add valuable new dimensions.