Oh, 2022 we hardly knew ya, and yet at the same time it feels like you’ve overstayed your welcome just a tad too long. As we transition out of 2022 and look back, it can feel like the year was quiet with nothing exciting having occurred. But 2022 was a year of growth for the space where some projects cemented their spot in the space while others faded into oblivion - and no, not just Coinbase NFT Marketplace.
With that, I am happy to bring you MVHQ’s first annual NFT Year in Review; The Good, The Bad, and The Confusing of 2022.
2022 saw many new projects burst onto the scene. Some came in the form of brand-new projects and collections whereas others were secondary collections built off the success of their inaugural mints.
Notable newbies to the space were Azuki and Beanz, Moonbirds and their Oddities, and the Memeland ecosystem’s MVP and Potatoz NFTs.
Azuki launched at the start of the year in January and hit the ground running. They have what many consider to be arguably the best PFP art in the entire space, and I don’t disagree. Their strong anime style even incited an entire shift to “anime meta” spawning hundreds of projects trying to emulate their success.
Moonbirds released in March as the official PFP for the Proof Collective, a group founded by serial entrepreneur Kevin Rose. The “birbs” as they’re so lovingly called, skyrocketed to nearly a 40 ETH floor shortly after mint in what was dubbed as the “VC meta” with founders bringing in VC funding to bootstrap their project instead of relying on minter’s liquidity.
While many other projects sprung up to great success such as Renga and dozens of generative art projects, no brand-new collection got as much traction as 9GAG CEO’s Memeland. Memeland currently consists of two NFTs, a 690 count “You The Real MVP” NFT collection, and a 10K count “Potatoz” NFT collection. 9GAG has brought an infectious energy to Web3, fully diving into communities to learn the finer nuances and not just to shill his project. After 7 months, Memeland is still pushing all time highes as their main collection mint, the Memeland Captainz, is on the horizon for a January 4th mint.
Along with the new kids, several “Blue Chip” projects released secondary collections such as Cool Pets, Beanz, Oddities, and even taking a trip into The Otherside with Yuga’s Otherdeeds. Even during the growing pains of 2022, we saw plenty of new collections take grasp and excel in the space.
2021 saw some real Web2 giants dip their toes into the waters of Web3 with Nike and Adidas both making fashion-forward plays and 2022 continued the trend in full force. Many brands looked to move towards Web3 friendly branding via licensing deals with notable collections such as BAYC and Moonbirds.
Perhaps one of the more unexpected entrants were Tiffany & Co. who partnered with the legendary Cryptopunks to offer jewelry backed by one of the world’s most reputable dealers themselves. This partnership offered a glimpse of what real-world high fashion and luxury can creatively bring to digital space.
We witnessed another giant entering the space when Starbucks released plans for a massively revamped loyalty system that will replace its current “Star rewards system”. The new system will feature NFT “Stamps” as well as NFT rewards in the form of both virtual and physical experiences and products. While this may not make tomorrow’s episode of Morning Joe, it certainly shows that more giants of Web2 have taken note and are making their moves for the future.
With each new project looking to carve out its own niche and find their own meaning for “utility”, many established projects found success IRL community-building this year. As fun as it may be sitting in discord with your friends 24/7, it’s just not quite the same as enjoying a shared experience at a one of a kind event specialized around your interests.
Conferences were a mainstay again this year with NFT NYC, NFT LA, and Art Basel all having extremely memorable experiences in 2022. The biggest projects all had strong showings such as Azuki’s Enter the Alley event reimagining a NYC area into an Azuki-themed district teeming with nightlife and food vendors all in character.
Cool Cats brought the fun and colorful world of Cooltopia to life with an entire experience fit for the whole family complete with merchandise and cute goodies to remember the time spent with Blue Cat and friends. Our very own Jarvis had a large hand in planning this amazing event.
The Doodles team took their turn at branding by transforming a mini-golf course for their Doodle Putt event in Florida. Fans raved at the depth and care poured into every detail.
Bright Moments was another standout with its IRL activations traveling from London to Mexico City and even further continuing their global, in-person Cryptocitizen mints. Likewise they continue to onboard local residents into Web3 and NFTs with their boots on the ground approach as well as expanding their collective of generative artists with the likes of William Mapan, Monica Rizzolli, and even Snowfro.
Of course we couldn’t write this section without mentioning the OGs with Yuga Labs and Ape Fest. Again Yuga showed how to get the job done with multiple nights of concerts for holders culminating in Snoop Dogg and Eminen performing on the final day. Never change, Apes.
And the best for last, MVHQ continued the tradition of gathering together around the world at numerous events throughout the year. Be it at the official MVHQ party at NFT NYC, a conference meetup in South Korea, or a quick dinner get-together in Australia, the MVHQ community has continued to show our true connections with each other inside and outside of the computer screen.
Not everything was bright and rosy in 2022. After a fantastic start to the year markets were hit by The Bear of 2022. The bear market we currently find ourselves in precipitated from a culmination of real world events, crypto shenanigans, and macroeconomics showing weakness across the board. These events caused crypto across the board to find lows not seen in months and in some cases, years. This had significant knock-on effects by liquidating many major Centralized Exchanges (CEX) due to the nature of their over-leveraged trading. Some of the casualties included BlockFi, Celsius, and perhaps the worst perpetrator of them all, Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.
FTX and Alameda were at the center of one of the largest crypto corruption scandals in recent memory. The story is ripe with backdoors, mingling and mismanagement of funds, and depending on who you ask, maybe one too many nights in the bean bag room.
Regardless of your ethics, seeing huge institutional players like this go down is never a good sight. It only makes it harder to onboard the masses when we confirm their opinions of the fraud and scams that are rife within our space.
Another year, another rug; some things never change. We can never hope to rid the space of rugs entirely - thanks Fame Lady Squad for showing the blueprint there - but even so there were entirely too many rug projects that tainted 2022 with their presence.
Scammers and rug artists got more sophisticated in 2022 and their projects reflected that. Some went to great lengths to project an air of legitimacy - looking at you, Squiggles - while others had its project’s founders arrested after finding evidence of their past rugs - cheers to you, Embers.
And then there was the Zagabond situation. It was revealed that the founder of Azuki was also behind past projects such as CryptoPhunks and CryptoZunks. Much was made about his past behavior, including masquerading as a female staffer in Discord servers and switching on royalties months after leaving the project for dead.
It is inarguable that more bad actors in this space will never bring in the masses. There’s no easy answer for how to solve this, but clearly apathy and inaction are not what your normie friends are looking to invest in with NFTs.
This one reared its head a bit more recently but is sure to be an issue as time goes on. With the proliferation of ChatGPT, Open AI, and Midjourney, everyone and their brother is suddenly an artist ready to mint their next project.
There are certainly legitimate artists experimenting with AI to perfect their craft such as Claire Silver, but ease of access to these powerful AI tools as well as simplified Ethereum contract-crafting tools has paved the way for nearly anyone with a hand and a keyboard to create a somewhat legitimate looking project.
AI will certainly change the space and the broader world as we know it in the coming years, some cases for better and some cases for worse.
2022 saw no shortage of new platforms vying for our attention and hard earned Ethereum. All year long we were drip fed new marketplaces with LooksRare, X2Y2, and Blur - and don’t forget your old pals over at Coinbase NFT!
Each platform offered seemingly new and novel approaches to markets to increase and incentivize activity. LooksRare introduced their platform by including its native token in airdrop for users based on past volume. X2Y2 introduced several new ideas including 0% royalties on private sales as well as their own proprietary token earned for trading on their platform.
Then Blur came along and really shook up the status quo by attempting to introduce optional zero royalties across all collections. That worked to some degree before causing the eventual royalty wars we see marketplaces suffering from as we speak.
Royalties. No royalties. Optional royalties. In order to differentiate themselves besides the native tools on each platform, they have turned to finding more complex means to pull majority marketshare of traders.
Unfortunately this has only led to a war of attrition as Opensea created its own registry filter, essentially drawing a line in the sand saying “Either you’re with us or against us.” This has resulted in a zero-sum game with most left confused as to where each marketplace stands and how it materially affects them.
2022 was a year where NFTs graduated from the up-only mentality to find some additional depth. While some of this may have been necessitated by the onset of the bear market we find ourselves in, it no doubt helped to galvanize the communities that have stuck it out. Growing community bonds, finding new and exciting ways to reward holders, and maturing beyond “just an NFT project” have all been highlights of the past year. And hey, if this is the worst that we see in NFTs then I think we may be in for a really special ride in 2023.