Soaring both in growth and interest in 2022, the Open Web movement has become a cultural zeitgeist. Cryptocurrency and blockchain, critical to reimagining the web, are together championed as the remedy to our currently broken global economy. Without argument, 2021 was the year of the non-fungible token, more commonly known by its now ubiquitous acronym, NFT. Sales of NFTs surged to $17.7B in the last year, up from $82.5M in 2020 — a 200-fold increase.
NFTs have permeated all corners of today’s society and are here to stay. According to Google Trends, “NFT” surpassed “crypto” in search queries in December 2021. Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs continue to sell to a slew of celebrities for millions; footwear and apparel behemoth NIKE acquired a dedicated NFT team in 2021; Saturday Night Live even featured a skit on the subject.
While it’s clear that NFTs are mainstream culture, beneath the hype lies a powerful piece of malleable technology. NFTs are so much more than exclusive pictures recorded on the blockchain. They are also more than collectibles hung on the digital gallery walls of their owner’s wallet.
Developers are leveraging NFTs on NEAR to create artist storefronts, power gaming platforms, release music, and fund vertical farms in urban spaces. And that’s just the beginning.
Minting NFTs cheaper, faster, and securely
Every NFT starts as an idea. The journey that idea must take to become an NFT used to be a convoluted one. It required technical prowess from the end user and was costly to mint. This journey was elegantly simplified by Mintbase, a global platform that allows anyone to create NFTs without developer skills.
As the “Shopify for NFTs,” people use Mintbase’s platform to create and sell music, art, memberships, photography, and so much more. Event organizers can even create NFTs to sell tickets for their next event.
Creating a digital storefront is the first step to minting NFTs on Mintbase. To do so, a user creates a smart contract and pays a gas fee. This is typically the most costly part of the process, especially on Ethereum, where gas fees are high from network congestion.
NEAR gas fees are impressively lower than Ethereum’s. NEAR features a more efficient contract execution model that requires less computation and uses the Nightshade dynamic sharding approach, making the network infinitely scalable. On Mintbase, deploying a store and minting NFTs is now significantly cheaper and more accessible to a diverse population of creators.
Building the future of gaming, one block at a time
OP Games, a Web3 gaming arcade platform, combines the worlds of gaming and NFTs. The fusino is creating a radical transformation in gameplay that gives both power and control back to the players. Using fractionalized NFTs, OP Games’ HTML5 arcade allows the community to effectively own a piece of the games they play.
With this type of collective ownership, the OP Games community will see NFT price appreciation as any game grows and becomes more successful. This effectively monetizes their time and attention during gameplay. Furthermore, the OP Games DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) establishes a relationship between the players and developers, giving the former a voice in how the game evolves over time.
Through the OP Games DAO, the community can ask a game’s developers to create different levels and new in-game assets that they can buy, own, and trade while playing. Whereas most gaming platforms lock digital collectibles in their own ecosystem, OP Games users can bring in accomplishments and skins from other games. This gives players more meaningful rewards for the time they invest in virtual worlds — all made possible through NFTs.
Reinventing the record label with NFTs
DAO Records uses NFTs to drastically reimagine what a record label can be. Building tools to help write the future of the music industry, the label is pushing the not-so-radical idea that musicians should be fairly compensated for their songs. DAO Records disrupts the antiquated recording industry on multiple fronts. Its founders see the organization as an audio NFT distribution platform and virtual event service for artists of all kinds.
Founders Vandal and DJ Lethal Skillz are encouraging artists to release and package new music as audio NFTs, whose smart contracts allow for an entirely more equitable royalty structure in perpetuity. Indie artists of any genre can easily mint audio NFTs and release their music. DAO Records sees the future of the music industry as a place when musicians control their work as well as their relationship with fans.
The label released its first audio NFT in February 2020: a gold edition of a cover art collectible and unlockable WAV file. Two months later, DAORecords pushed audio NFT boundaries even further with the release of their first official interactive audio NFT. Titled Mint Tape Vol 1, the NFT is a USB cassette of 25 songs and 30 accompanying artworks. Since its inception, DAO Records has released 350+ NFTs from over 100 artists.
Beyond NFT releases, DAO Records has held over 50 virtual events in their cryptovoxelspace, “The Playground.” Their goal is to build a lively, dynamic metaverse community for music and art-related virtual events in The Playground and other custom-built virtual venues.
Changing the way we connect with food
Lisbon-based Raiz uses NFTs to help fund vertical farms — the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers — in under-utilized urban spaces. Its mission is to transform urban areas into epicenters for the growing and harvesting of foods for local communities and restaurants. Founded by Emiliano Guitterez, Raiz is ardently opposed to the agriculture industry’s stagnant business model, which ships harvested food across global markets.
Raiz is bringing renewed focus back to the local community while maintaining incredible taste and nutrients in their crops. With this approach, the team thinks it can disrupt the current unsustainable model. Raiz’s vertical farming model also incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, optimizing plant growth through sustainable technology that directly impacts our planet.
Raiz uses NEAR-powered NFTs to generate yield and offer “tokenized impact for the bold.” Through NFTs, Raiz makes and releases digital artworks of plants linked to impact metrics such as carbon emissions and water savings — significant issues in traditional agriculture and industrial farming markets.
Raiz is transforming local hydroponic, vertical farming, and solar energy systems into investable crypto assets by linking the physical with the digital. Raiz’s NFT model can be used for other local food-growing efforts as well, giving people greater access to tokenized environmental and local impact.
NFTs as a gateway, not a barrier
People, ideas, and projects built on NEAR operate on the new frontier of Web3 technology. Now creators, developers, business owners, and individuals can leave their legacy in the digital world through NFTs. Low gas fees and fast transactions combined with a no-compromises approach to security make NEAR Protocol the ideal platform. NEAR empowers these creators, who can directly engage with their fans and end users, accomplishing new feats through NFTs.
NFTs are producing a giant leap in transparency and accountability when distributing content, running a business, or supporting a cause. All of the backend accounting is done transparently on the blockchain. It is visible on NEAR Explorer, allowing for transparency paired with an actual ability to illustrate the flow of funds.
Royalties on NEAR follow the NFTs in perpetuity, allowing for royalty enforcement across different marketplaces and into secondary sales. With the royalties embedded in the NFT token, they must be respected to complete the transfer of the NFT. With complete customization, royalties can be split between multiple contributors, beneficiaries, and DAOs. This standard is the first of its kind and a key differentiator for NFT developers, artists, and users alike.
Thanks to NEAR’s robust framework and infrastructure, the greatest barrier is the capacity to innovate instead of the technology itself. Supporting documentation and open source repositories for building NFT marketplaces on NEAR are available to all. Any developer can build on these concepts and choose different elements to get brand new ideas off the ground. Any user can translate an idea to an NFT seamlessly. A low barrier to entry for developers and creators translates to massive exposure and accessibility to users.
Beyond the hype, NFTs are transforming multiple industries across today’s landscape. Creators are gaining momentum and disrupting the status quo through seamless and easy tech, all powered on NEAR.