As they near the end of a blockbuster year for NFTs that saw more than $10 billion in transaction volume, today’s NFT project developers are finding themselves facing a dilemma — whether to chase today’s dollars or tomorrow’s users.
Dapper Labs, maker of one of the year’s more mainstream breakout NFT hits NBA Top Shot, has been looking to convince investors that it can court developers to bet on the latter. Today, the startup recently valued at $7.6 billion is showcasing some of the fruits of this pursuit, debuting the product of its partnership with avatars-for-the-stars startup Genies — an ambitious NFT storefront which the startups hope will serve as a hub for web3 digital identity, allowing users to create animated avatars and outfit them with NFT accessories.
The new platform, called The Warehouse, is launching today to a small network of invite-only users before gradually going out to a wider audience in the coming months, both startups tell TechCrunch.
The new platform will allow users to outfit 3D cartoon avatars that they create inside the Genies app with masks, shoes, backpacks and other digital accessories minted on Dapper’s blockchain network called Flow. Genies tells us that the majority of items in the store will be sold for less than $20, though that’s notably just for primary sales; owners of those goods will decide the market for secondary sales of individual items. The Warehouse notably won’t have its secondary marketplace enabled at launch, an effort the Genies team hopes will give the community some time to focus on the product rather than resale values.
Genies has notably already experimented with selling digital apparel and accessories inside its native mobile app, though that venture did not include a blockchain or NFT-related element. Genies’ foray into NFT economics is a bet on Dapper’s particular brand of blockchain, one that may be less decentralized than networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but one which offers a number of baked-in user benefits, including lower fees, higher transaction capacity and a developer platform that’s friendly to web3 “luxuries” like processing credit cards and users forgetting their passwords.
Flow is certainly not the only bet on a more consumer-friendly blockchain with lower fees and friendlier onboarding, though Dapper has raised some $600 million from investors on the promise of its future success. Competing Layer 1 chains like Wax and Solana have seen more action from native NFT projects in recent months as developers aim to tap into the platform’s strengths and the wallets of coin holders. Venture investors have also minted several new crypto unicorns this year that are aiming to scale the Ethereum blockchain with “rollup” products that allow developers to leverage the network’s security while processing and bundling transactions on a secondary chain.
NBA Top Shot’s meteoric rise earlier this year brought a lot of attention to Dapper, which saw monthly transaction volume go from less than $1 million in December 2020 to nearly $225 million in February 2021. These days, Top Shot’s network of buyers and transactions sits …….