What’s Next for NFTs after Profile Pictures?

What’s Next for NFTs after Profile Pictures?

by Justin Perri

8/30/2021

Without a doubt, randomly generated avatars have been the focal point of the rapidly growing non-fungible token (NFT) market. We’ve seen a literal zoo of options; apes, cats, dogs, birds, elephants, chickens, koalas, whales — you name it and it has probably been the form of some recent avatar project. 

These projects have started many people down the NFT rabbithole, and introduced them to digital ownership. But NFTs are going to expand into experiences and forms of art other than collections of randomly generated avatars intended as a profile picture. 

That’s not only an objective truth if the industry is to survive but it’s also what I expect is going to be the next wave in this infant landscape. I know we hear the word “utility” used so often with NFTs that one can become numb to it; but uses for collectibles that foster growth and connections amongst creators and owners are the clear way forward for NFTs.

I want to note that everything moves quickly in the theater of blockchain backed collectibles and markets are mostly speculative. So as I discuss what I expect will be on the horizon, remember to always do your research and operate within your own personal financial means.

Why Do We Collect NFTs?

There’s a few reasons that anyone might collect an item, digital or physical. You might want to own something because:

a) it is appealing to you personally

b) you think it will appreciate in value

c) you want to be a part of the group of those who also have collected the item in question. 

All three of these are valid and demonstrated constantly — often all at once — through NFTs. As the space becomes more and more saturated with options for buyers to purchase, the emphasis is going to shift towards innovation upon the aforementioned reasons that might drive someone to make a purchase. 

Decentraland Metaverse
Screengrab from Decentraland

The Future of NFTs: Play-to-Earn Gaming and Metaverse

So what’s this going to look like? The likelihood is this new form of digital consumerism is going to mimic the patterns of the movements before it, just at a decentralized and accessible scale, with just a crypto wallet.

There are going to be the creators who stand out visually and technically with a never-before-seen product that captures the interest of collectors. These projects are going to push the boundaries of what digital ownership can be and masterfully use the technology of NFTs to create something eye opening and inspiring. 

Play-to-Earn Gaming

One of the most exciting revolutions that NFTs will surely bring about is going to be within gaming. I think of my years growing up playing RuneScape and how cool it would have been to actually own the items I was playing with. Moreso, for it to be encouraged (rather than illegal) for those digital items to be bought and sold for value outside of the game.

Play-to-earn gaming becomes a true possibility with NFTs and we are already seeing that come to life in games like Axie Infinity. Combine this huge potential with a generation of young people who love Roblox, who have a natural grasp of digital ownership, and it becomes clear to me that NFT gaming is going to be the next generation. 

The Metaverse

To go along with gaming will be owning and developing digital land and the virtual interaction that accompanies it in the metaverse.

Consider what Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, will do with their $1 billion to build their “vision for the Metaverse.” There are already reports of Facebook diving into metaverse development with projects like Horizon Workrooms, where you can interact in a virtual conference room to conduct meetings and presentations. 

Meanwhile, established platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox Game offer a glimpse into what owning digital property could mean. NFTs provide the foundation for this ownership that can be used to create all types of interactive virtual experiences as technology becomes more available. Everything from shopping to co-operative gaming and club hang outs will be possible. 

Why Does This Matter for NFTs

What allows for this all to work is the digital verification of assets, whether it is owning the deed to virtual land or a high-powered sword in a video game. The magic of NFTs creates a trustless confirmation of ownership.

This gatekeeping mechanism allows for only those who can digitally confirm what they own being included in certain communities, or subsets of them. This creates a desire to reach those staring in from the outside. It’s these types of community-centered aspects and future innovations on the boundaries of these person-to-person interactions in the metaverse that will shape how we view NFTs going forward.

NFTs can sometimes go through tumultuous times; some profile picture projects can turn out to lose a good deal of value, and others can raise $90 million selling generative renders of mutant apes. 

However, don’t let this occasional uncertainty in one genre of NFTs steal the potential that this new technology has. 

We will continue to see innovation in blockchain-verified digitally-scarce assets and how they can apply to our society. 

We will see truly passionate creators bring new applications and uses for NFTs. And we will look back at this time similarly to when we first learned about AOL.