The rise of the non-fungible token from a speculative asset class into a high-value commodity has generated widespread attention both in the press and on social media. While the growing acceptance of digital art has helped propel NFT ecosystems to new heights, there are many members of the crypto community who remain skeptical about the immediate value of NFT projects.
Critics of non-fungible tokens often express frustration about the pricing of most NFTs, which they believe are hard to understand and prone to speculation. The truth is that the value of an NFT is determined by thousands of buyers and sellers in the free market who judge the worth of a specific NFT based on defined values.
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Rarity – NFT Valuation
The most important metric when thinking about an item’s intrinsic value, rarity has the potential to make or break the price of an individual NFT, or its underlying project. The iron law of supply and demand dictates that the scarcer an item is the greater its price will be, which means that highly coveted projects will cost more than their more plentiful counterparts.
The Wrapped Strikers collection currently listed on OpenSea illustrates the relationship between pricing and supply. The project is a continuation of the CryptoStrikers series that was released in 2018 and features soccer players from the World Cup played that same year. Because these NFTs have an incomplete implementation of the ERC-721 token standard, they are not compatible with OpenSea and need to be wrapped in the ERC-721 wrapper to be bought and sold on NFT marketplaces.
Because CryptoStrikers was the first sports NFT project on the Ethereum blockchain, there are virtually no other sports cards minted during the same period, making them extremely rare and expensive. At the end of May, a gold-edition card of Kylian Mbappe sold for 20 ETH, equal to around $36,000.
CryptoStrikers is an excellent example of the concept of a rarity in NFTs because the project not only retains scarcity as a whole (there are only 3,600 cards listed on OpenSea, compared to 10,000 for most other collections), but because individual cards have their hierarchy of traits that affect a card’s value.
While the vast majority of cards (3,318) were minted as “Originals,” there exists a smaller subset of cards (277) created as “Iconics.” As these cards are rarer and contain more intricate design features, their value is substantially higher than other cards in the series of the same player.
Although CryptoStrikers is technically defined as an NFT trading card series and not digital art, the same principle can be applied to other famous collections. Certain characters in the RTFKT Clone X project possess clothing called “TM RNBW FLOWER PFA,” which can be identified as a ring of multi-colored flowers around the figure’s neck. When looking at the “Properties” section of the NFT profile on OpenSea, it can be seen that only 0.83% of the clones in the collection have this trait – making the flowers extremely rare and highly coveted.
Investors who wish to find the correct NFT valuation for a digital item can navigate to an NFT value estimator site such as https://app.flolio.com, and find your asset listing to look up individual traits.
Additionally, many projects will release a ranking site either on their Discord page or on their mint site to allow investors to see which NFTs are more valuable.
Utility is defined in the dictionary as “the state or quality of being useful; usefulness.” For many outside the crypto community, this is one characteristic that NFTs almost certainly lack. What can be the usefulness, critics say, of a cartoonish digital image that can only be stored using the blockchain?
What these skeptics miss is that not all NFTs are created equal. While some collections only exist for their artistic value, other projects include pieces that come with major perks such as voting rights, ownership rights, and access to resources in virtual lands and games.
Two of the largest gaming platforms include Decentraland and The Sandbox, where players can roam a vast, interactive universe on their Mac or PC and complete tasks with their friends or fellow players.
Players can buy NFTs from these sites in the form of wearables, collectibles, and virtual land that will improve their in-game utility by providing a more enjoyable gaming experience.
Other virtual games allow their players to buy NFTs that act as governance tokens, which retain value as they give owners voting rights and the ability to influence decisions inside the game.
One of the most famous virtual worlds in existence is that of the Otherdeed for Otherside, a metaverse game world owned by Yuga Labs. The virtual world will bring together Yuga’s various NFT projects that including the Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, Meebits, and Cool Cats.
The Otherside land plots currently for sale are valuable not only because of their unique designs but also for their connection to Yuga’s metaverse. Investors who own these land plots will be able to claim the digital property in an interactive game that features some of the most popular NFT collections to date.
As of this writing, the floor price for the Otherside stands at 2.89 ETH, equivalent to just over $5,000. Other NFT land plots such as Voxels and Illuvium lack the star power of the Yuga NFT ecosystem and thus have floor prices much lower than the Otherside collection.
ENS Domain Names
The demand for ENS domain names, currently one of the hottest trends in the NFT market, has left many outsiders scratching their heads. Why they ask, would someone want to spend thousands of dollars on the ownership rights to a name that can only be displayed on the Ethereum blockchain? The answer lies in the utility that these names provide to those with Ethereum wallets.
Currently, anyone who wants to send crypto assets to another wallet holder must have the receiver’s wallet address, which is displayed in alphanumeric code and is nearly impossible for any mortal to memorize. An ENS name simplifies the process by allowing someone to set their wallet address as the name of their choice, making it easier to complete transactions.
The catch is that no two wallet names can be the same, which means that users must mint the name they want from the ENS App, or shell out cash to buy their desired name from OpenSea or other NFT marketplaces. Consequently, common, shorter names are more valuable, with three-digit addresses the most coveted of all.
There seem to be endless possibilities for NFT utility, but one of the most promising applications is that of event tickets. These NFTs have no aesthetic value and no connection to any virtual worlds, but provide access to exclusive events such as concerts, games, and shows.
Certain restaurants have even started using NFTs for reservations. By issuing tickets as NFTs, venues can let purchasers unlock benefits above and beyond the actual experience, creating more of an incentive to buy.
There remains a third class of NFT that retains its value simply because it is disconnected from the virtual world. Owners of these NFTs hold them for their tangible value, meaning that they can be used to obtain real-world objects and physical collectibles that would otherwise not be available for purchase.
Two well-known projects that have issued holders physical items are Puma’s Catblox NFT project and Adidas’ Into the Metaverse collection. As both of these projects are linked to major sports retailers, it’s not surprising that many investors purchased these NFTs for the possibility of receiving shoes, jackets, or other branded gear from Puma and Adidas. As more and more retailers launch their NFT projects, the allure of physical goods will be a driving force behind many sales.
No article on the value of an NFT would be complete without mentioning Bored Ape Yacht Club – the holy grail for NFT collectors and the most famous project in the space. Dozens of celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Snoop Dogg, and Seth Green have bought into the Yacht Club, spending hundreds of thousands on their ape. Despite the media attention, it’s not immediately clear why the intrinsic value of Bored Apes is so high.
The art itself is nothing spectacular, and there are dozens of other projects that seem to have more creative designs. The Yacht Club does have access to a highly publicized gaming system in the form of Otherside, but BAYC had achieved cult status long before any metaverse announcements.
The truth is that the Bored Ape Yacht Club is so famous because it offers high-net-worth celebrities the chance to enter an exclusive community filled with networking events, media coverage, and social opportunities. People often take on membership as part of their identity — even using their favorite NFT image as their public profile picture on social media.
Simply put, owning a Bored Ape is a status symbol and an asset class in its own right, whose price may appreciate in the future – but this is only a secondary concern.
Historical NFT Value
While almost all current NFT projects are judged according to the value they can bring to an investor today, there exists a subset of collections whose worth is based upon their historical value. As some of the first NFTs ever created, buyers of these projects have a long-term strategy that involves holding historical NFTs until the market realizes their true value.
Many of these NFTs are difficult to obtain and are not found on traditional NFT marketplaces, and when they are, they are often included in an unverified subsection, such as the Emblem Vault on OpenSea.
One of the first NFT trading card collections was released in 2016 under the name “Rare Pepes.” Although the main character of the collection, Pepe the Frog, was created as far back as 2005, the series saw Pepe’s rebirth in several different comedic situations that featured satirical takes on politics, culture, and finance.
In addition to the fact that the project gave rise to some of the first digital trading cards, the collection was significant because it was the first to demonstrate that blockchain technology could be used by a community of enthusiasts to create, own, and trade art simply as ‘art,’ and not for any gaming assets or any broader utility.
Other collections, such as Curio Cards and BitGirls, are also sought after due to their historical value. It’s important to keep in mind that the true value of these NFTs may not be recognized by the broader market for years to come – meaning you should buy them at your own risk.