Introduction: The Art of Collecting
Collecting is above all a passion for many people, in theory, it’s possible to create a collection of just about anything: stamps, beans, perfumes, clothes, postcards, garden dwarfs..you get my point!
As long as it remains a pleasure, as long as it makes the collector happy then collecting is not a problem. As soon as it becomes an obsession to the point of becoming harmful to the collector or his entourage, passion becomes an addiction. Digital collecting is now becoming categorized as “a new addiction” in the same way as compulsive shopping or cyberaddiction is.
Collecting requires being rigorous and setting clear goals before moving on to the purchase. This practice has existed since the dawn of time and has become an art. Thanks to digital scarcity made possible due to the blockchain, what do NFTs in the “collectibles” segment really represent to people today?
Collectibles are not Art
To avoid confusion with the rest of this article, it is necessary to clarify that collectibles should not be categorized as art. Although it is possible to collect works of art, the use of collectibles in the NFT ecosystem is far removed from what art is.
It’s a fine line, but it does exist. To fully understand what differentiates collectibles from art, we invite you to read our two previous articles:
If virtual collectibles are to be separated from art, it is for a reason: they have a use and are usually attached to a project. Even if artists have previously worked on the visual aspect of the collectibles, the purpose of its existence will not only have the purpose of existing for art.
Examples of Collectible NFTs
So, what are NFT Collectibles? We have seen several ways to develop projects around this segment, some have the sole purpose of serving as a collector’s item, others belong to other segments such as video games.
Here are some projects and experiments that can be used as a reference to define this segment.
Profile Pictures : Meebits, Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks
In 2021, shortly after the success of the sale of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, LarvaLabs’ Meebits project was also sold out in less than a day. These two sales were the prelude to a fashion that would last all summer: Profile Pictures.
Profile pictures (PFP) are avatars that have been generated through an algorithm. The characteristics that constitute each avatar are created upstream and can take several forms:
- Skin color
- Species (alien, robot, zombie etc..)
Some of the features are rarer than others, so avatars that possess them will be more sought after, for BAYC and Meebits, the characteristics were defined randomly during the mint.
Before BAYC and Meebits, it was mostly CryptoPunks that served as Profile Pictures signifying OG status in the NFT space. Displaying these made it possible to publicly show your inherent belonging to the NFT community. But with the arrival of newcomers to the ecosystem since the 2020 lockdowns, the desire to “be part of an NFT community” has broadened.
Then came the “NFT Summer”, with so much PFP-type project creation that it ended up flooding the market. We were able to see in our NFT Q3 2021 report the trend of selling, at a loss, some NFT projects such as collectibles.
Collectible Cards and badges
Collectible card NFTs have only one purpose: to be collected, they can represent players of well-known sports, key moments in life or historical events.
On the Wax blockchain for example, it is possible to find IPs known as Hot Wheels or MLB. On Ethereum, the Oncurio project offers Collectibles from Mars Attack, Heavy Metal or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Badges are also collectible NFTs but have a different purpose other than just cards. They are usually used to reward users after completing a number of tasks.
This is the case, for example, with the Microsoft Azure program that distributes NFTs to reward learning efforts on its platform. Before them, it was Gitcoin who were already doing this with the Kudos.
Blockchain Games and Collectibles
Generally, the NFTs that can be used in video games are equipment such as weapons or armor. But there are, however, some NFT use cases related to the video game environment.
The best example is the Trading Card Game Gods Unchained, where several card qualities exist:
- Meteorite : common
- Shadow : uncommon
- Gold : rare
- Diamond : very rare
The quality of the map will not change anything in the gameplay during the game, this feature is primarily for collectors.
Another interesting example of use comes from the game Illuvium. Illuvium aims to be a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) using NFTs and blockchain as the center of the game. For their presale, NFTs are promotional badges and emotes to use in the game!
Another form that NFTs can take as a collector’s item are “skins”. The appearances of certain weapons or characters are also assets to collect. In the game Lightnite inspired by Fornite, a marketplace allows you to exchange different appearances of weapons that can be used in the game. This is also the case for the Battle Royale style game Blankos which has its own marketplace.
NFT Collectibles are part of the digital identity
It is important to remember that “real ownership” is a notion strongly rooted in the identity of the crypto universe. Collectors like to own things as diverse as they are varied, so it’s natural to find this behavior in the NFT ecosystem.
Collectible NFTs therefore take many forms and are not just randomly generated avatars. They are as much part of the small as they are the big things of the virtual everyday lifestyle.