Standing on the heels of 2022 and looking forward to 2023, feels different. Reminiscing over 2022, I can’t find words other than, what a damn schizophrenic year it has been! It got us all on our highest tiptoes second-guessing and anticipating the market’s death… Was it a bull or bear market? Why were all those collections launching like an apocalypse? Full of drama full of conspiracy. Many people left the space, and many people joined. Many still hate NFTs and many still don’t know what the hell N, F, and T stand for! It has without any exaggeration been a rollercoaster ride. Let’s kickstart 2023 with a fun NFT recap of every major highlight in the year 2022. The events are categorized in major headlines, so feel free to skip to the segment you’re interested in (or enjoy the storyline).
Major NFT Collections
According to the crypto analytics platform Into The Block, the number of NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain rose by %104.5 in 2022 alone. Now if we wanna talk numbers, at the beginning of 2022 the total number of NFT collections was 38.71 k and by the end of 2022, it increased till reaching 229.1 k collections. In simple English, 190.39 k NFT collections were created in 2022 ALONE! (NFTs were dead? Is there a new definition for death I didn’t know about?) Now let’s have a brief NFT collection recap on those that got the most hype this year :
Hyped and Successful
- Moonbirds – launched in April and had an August overnight mysterious success.
- Otherdeed – launched in April and ignited the bull market.100,000 Otherdeed NFTs were sold and people paid millions in gas for them.
- Goblin town – launched in late May and won over the market.
- Reddit Digital Collectibles – Launched in July and became a major sensation! Many people got introduced to NFTs from this collection.
- RENGA – launched in August and still maintains a decent floor price.
- Azuki Skateboard – launched in October and broke the market with Dragon emblem Golden Skateboard selling for 309 ETH.
- Valhalla – launched on November 22 and is set on becoming a big gaming x culture brand.
- KPR – launched in early November and grossed huge success.
- The Eternals – Anothony Hopkin’s Masterpiece
- Mother of Creation – Beeple x Madonna launched a controversial NFT collection that got everyone talking!
Hyped & Flopped
- Street machine – launched in October and made it to the headlines by breaking the bear market, then somehow drastically failed to live up to the hype.
- Akutars – launched in April and the hype was real. However, things went sideways as a mistake in the smart contract ended up causing 11,539 ETH (worth about $34 million) to be locked up. No one could access them, not the buyers nor the sellers.
- Art gobblers – This was a rollercoaster ride of its own!
- The Legend of Cockpunch – Probably the biggest surprising flop of the year! This collection got up to 3.7 ETH and down to 0.88 ETH in just 10 days!
NFT Recap in Numbers
NFTs had a very good start this year and then went downhill from the peak. It’s like inflating a balloon too much till it popped. According to Google’s statistics, the worldwide interest in the term NFT reached its peak at 100% at the end of January 2022. From that high people gradually lost interest till reaching an all-time low between October and December. Sad but true. Google’s statistics also show that the countries that showed the most interest in NFTs were China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao, and Gibraltar. Fun fact, the U.S. and Europe didn’t even make it to the top 10 interested countries. Cool but why?
NFT Market Cap, Trade Volume, and Traders Activity
Looking back at this year is very confusing. How can NFTs do so well and so badly? We can see from NFTGo’s year analysis that the NFT market cap at the beginning of 2022 was approximately $9 M till reaching its peak in mid-February at $12 M then maintaining itself above the $8.9 M margin for the rest of the year. This is not that dramatic, however, the trade volume tells a different story. It peaked in January then lost some traction till literally booming in April at almost $13M. What the hell happened in April? (Spoiler alert: Otherside and Moonbirds). From there the trade volume just gave up on life fluctuating under $7.6M.
Now if we take a deeper look into which NFT category had the highest market cap we notice that PFP, Collectibles, Utility, Land, and Games were at the forefront. PFPs remarkably beat all the other categories. Hmm… why? ( It’s psychological, google it).
Now taking a look at the NFT holders and Traders’ Activity from NFTGo, the first thing we notice is an obvious increase in the number of NFT Holders. All in all, there was a general increase in the holder, trader, buyer, and seller activities. We can also see how in the first half of the year the buyers’ activity was very high, while the seller’s activity increased at the end of the year. This shows that many people lost interest in NFTs, as many people joined and still believe in them. So basically, everyone kept really busy. Which is ironic in a way, isn’t it?
NFT Marketplaces: Blockchain Game of Thrones
It’s not a proper NFT recap without the drama NFT marketplaces brought. OpenSea has been taking the reins since 2017 and this year four brave warriors ought to challenge it for the throne, Looksrare, Gem, X2Y2, and Blurr.
- X2Y2 marketplace launch
- Looksrare marketplace launch
- Gem aggregator launch
- X2Y2 pulled a vampire attack on opensea. (such a Sersie move).
- OpenSea acquired Gem ( so one down three to go?)
- Blurr marketplace launch
- Blurr’s 24-hr trade volume Exceeds OpenSea for two days!
The efforts of the new marketplaces are to be applauded, however, when we look at the numbers throughout the year, OpenSea’s weekly trade volume remained topping the charts. Blurr marketplace is insanely hyped and sought after by professional traders, so the outlook for 2023 is: will Blurr outrun OpenSea? We have to wait and see. (pun not intended)
NFT Creator Royalties: The Cockpit Fight
The debate over creators’ royalties is like a cockpit fight between traders and creators. Creator royalties are probably the favorite part of every artist in the blockchain, unlike traders who dread paying for that extra money. If creators are getting paid on the primary sales, why should every trader keep paying them a cut every time their work is sold? The blockchain protocol doesn’t yet force paying royalties (as it’s almost impossible), so it’s up to the secondary marketplaces. It’s a moral issue at this point, so let’s recap the NFT marketplaces that took their stand.
- August: The First Shot
- Sudoswap was the first to poke the bear, attracting the NFT trader community by completely removing royalty payments on their marketplace. (Traders 1, Creators 0)
- October: Jealousy
- Magic Eden and LooksRare joined the hype and opted to make royalty payments optional at the sale, so the decision was up to the buyer. (Traders 2, Creators 1)
- November: The Climax
- X2Y2 found the move interesting and also made paying royalties optional. However, a major backlash from the creators’ community made it take a step back and continue to enforce royalty payments. (Traders 2, Creators 2)
- (November) OpenSea was watching the newbies experiment, until opening up its cards. It created its own on-chain royalty enforcement tool for every collection to add to its contract. This way there is no escape from paying royalties, and that’s how it’s done royal flush- style. (Traders 2 Creators 3 )
- (November) Now Blurr has its eye on OpenSea and it wants to look like a savior too, to both traders and creators. That’s why it made creator royalties optional on its marketplace while incentivizing traders who choose to pay royalties by Blurr tokens or airdrops. (Traders 3 Creators 4)
What’s the Verdict?
It seems like for the year 2022 the royalties debate can’t take a proper side between traders and creators. All marketplaces, except OpenSea, are trying to please both parties, so we just have to wait to know the ultimate fate of these royalty fees – who’s keeping score anyway? However if the common consensus is to eliminate creators’ royalties altogether, this leaves the future of NFT creators and collections in jeopardy.
NFT Spotlight Recap: Brands on the Block
Despite common rumors that “NFTs are dead”, this year witnessed some of the biggest names hopping into the NFT rabbit hole. Almost all your favorite brands are on the blockchain. Here’s a brief recap of new NFT brands on the block this year:
Social Media & Search Engines
- January – Opera Web3 Browser launched and Google dedicated a digital assets team for web3 in-depth ventures which lead to many promising collaborations.
- October – Twitter announced tiles.
- November – Instagram launched its NFT marketplace.
- December – Opera instant mint feature.
Food & Beverages
- November- Orbitel International Corp released their very own Boba Man NFTs.
- September- Starbucks announced Starbucks Odyssey and launched in December.
- Paris Hilton is still the Crypto Queen.
- Snoop Dog still dominates the space
- Johnny Depp flaunted his court victory with an NFT Collection. It launched in January and peaked in June after trial- smart.
- Stephen Curry filed for a Curryverse trademark in October.
- Donald Trump released his NFTs in December because… why not?
- Anthony Hopkins found major success in his The Eternals NFT collection in October.
- Gucci (first project in 2021, second March 2022),
- Louis Vuitton (Louis the game in 2021, NFT collection in April 2022)
- Tiffany & Co. made a sensation with its Cryptopunk necklace (august 2022)
- Prada (June 2 2022)
- Nike + RTFKT swoosh (Nike releases Cryptokicks in 2019, acquired RTFKT in 2021, Announces Nike Swoosh on November 14 2022 > launches December 2022)
NFT Drama Recap
It’s not an NFT Recap without the drama! 2022 was fully loaded with controversies, scams, failures, and successes. I’ll split this section into three categories: Drama highlights, Market Crash, and Blockchain Scams.
Highlights: Love, Hate, and War
- GTA and Minecraft announced a ban on NFTs. What happened to NFTs? Well as Taylor Swift put it best, haters gonna hate I’m just gonna shake shake.
- Apple made major restrictions on NFTs and Coinbase felt the urge to stand up to it by stopping iOS transfers.
- Frida Kahlo is probably turning in her grave as a shady businessman burned her art for the sake of an NFT.
- Azuki creators were exposed to have launched scammy NFT projects before. When Valhalla launched, the links to Azuki were rapidly formed and conspiracies about Azuki and Valhalla founders and motives dominated the space.
- November was the month of reveals with Gmoney and DeGod’s founder showing their identity.
- CNN tried to launch its own CNN Vault NFTs in October, but got shut down and accused of a rug pull. Sad.
- Yuga Labs cemented itself as the one-to-beat by acquiring CryptoPunks and Meebits NFT collections in March.
- Pixelmon’s NFT collection launch gave the space some memorable hate/love memes.
NFT Market Crash: SBF To The Stake!
The most groundbreaking thing that happened in 2022 is the NFT market crash. So we must mention it in this 2022 NFT recap in a section of its own. It is the juiciest and most problematic “friend” feud. What exactly happened? First things first, it all took place in one cursed (or blessed?) November month.
What Caused the Market to Collapse?
- Binance’s CEO CZ attacks FTX’s CEO SBF via Twitter (Binance and FTX were head-to-head competitors)
- News scares investors and they start pulling their money from FTX
- FTX’s value drops 15-20% overnight
- CZ then says Binance will acquire FTX
- Information rises about FTX and Alameda being involved in a ponzi scheme and FTX technically has no funds
- CZ pulls out of the deal
- News rise about SBF transferring money (billions worth) from customer funds
- Investors demand SBF to get jailed
- He gets arrested, yay! But, right before testifying… fishy.
- He gets bailed out when his family and relatives put their houses as a collateral
All of this led to a domino effect of everything falling apart in the market.
FTX Crash Consequences
How big was the FTX contagion? As big and deep as a black hole. All cryptocurrencies’ values dropped. All we saw in November were red charts pointing down. And, as a result, all NFTs prices surged. You can tell how hard the hit was from the blue-chip NFTs’ market cap crash.
1- BAYC : Yuga Labs Under the Microscope
Even blue-chip projects were affected. For the first time since 2021, BAYC’s floor price dropped under $100K. And, cryptopunks’ floor price surpassed BAYC’s after a head-to-head competition for a while.
In fact, the bored ape collection took a huge hit this year. While the floor price managed to bounce back up, a lot of people lost money. For example, Justin Bieber’s $1.3M Bored Ape NFT is now worth $69k only.
Moreover, in the infamous 2022, Yuga Labs, creators behind BAYC, were investigated after all assets’ dropped in value. Then, A-list celebrities were accused of ruining BAYC’s value. They were accused of receiving compensation for those promotions without disclosing such deals to their followers. Yikes.
2- Solana Price Drop
It doesn’t end here. SBF was in fact a number one investor in the Solana blockchain. So, a lot of ‘liquidity’ Solana received was in FTX coins. Un, oh. What happened next? You guessed it, Solana’s price crashed dramatically. Just check the below graph, insane. Solana currently stands at $11.74 but it dipped below 10$.
Furthermore, due to the pitiful state of Solana, its two top projects, Y00ts and DeGods are leaving the blockchain in Q1 of 2023. Y00ts will be moving to Polygon and DeGods to Ethereum.
Will Solana ever recover from this in 2023? We can’t help but wonder if it’ll gain back its stability in 2023 or if it’s going to die out.
Major Blockchain Scams: Nobody’s Safe
The blockchain/crypto world is never risk-free, as this year witnessed some of the biggest scams. Of course, the FTX scam tops the charts and that’s why it got a section of its own. So without further ado, here’s an NFT scam recap for this year:
- February – Drainer monkey
- March – Axie Infinity saw its Ronin bridge hacked for $600M.
- April – Social media scams that were mainly on Twitter.
- November – Scammy Month
Most Expensive NFTs Sold in 2022
It wouldn’t be an NFT recap without discussing the most expensive NFT sales that happened this year. Although the excitement dialed down on NFTs since January, reaching $6 billion in trading volume to almost reaching $1 billion in the third quarter of this year, NFT sales still made it to the headlines. Here are the most expensive NFTs sold in 2022:
- Julian Assange and Pak sold the Clock NFT for 16,593 ETH (Approx. $20.1 million as of Dec. 2) back in February.
- Cryptopunk #5822 is a rare punk, featuring a blue bandana, that sold for a whopping USD 23.7 million in February. The Guinness Book of Records recognized CryptoPunk #5822 as the most expensive digital collectible of all time.
- CryptoPunk #5577 – Another Cryptopunk NFT was sold for 2,501 ETH (Aprox. $3.03 million as of Dec. 21) in February.
- Ukrainian Flag NFT – UkraineDAO sold the Ukrainian flag as an NFT for 2,250 ETH (Aprox. $2.7 million as of Dec. 21) in March.
- All Time High in the City – XCOPY sold a red and black animated graphic for 1,630 ETH (Aprox. $1.9 million as of Dec. 21) in January.
NFT Culture Recap
Now I bet you’re thinking we missed out on some of your favorite incidents this year, but No! Here’s a recap of milestones that impacted the NFT culture:
- January – Bud Light + nouns commercial.
- February – Pplplsr launched the Shibuya web3 platform.
- March – Decentraland hosted its first Fashion Week.
- April – Drift made photography history with +10k mints of First Day Out.
- May – ENS boom with web3 domain names.
- July – Snoop Dogg and Eminem Became Bored Apes in their Music Video
- September – The long-awaited Ethereum Merge took place.
- October – Elon musk took over Twitter because… he was bored?
- November – First Web3 Esports tournament
- December – Yuga Labs end the year with a comeback announcing The Trial of Jimmy the Monkey.
Projections to 2023
So you’ve made it to the end. How did it feel seeing this year in one shot? The biggest irony of 2022 is that NFTs were supposed to be “dead”, especially on sales and chart performances, but actually, NFT hustling was more alive than ever! This year was very experimental, many brands and celebrities tried their chances with NFTs. I think that 2023 is very promising mainly because people know about the potential of NFTs now. They are more than a PFP, it’s a technological advancement that can offer so many things. So what does this new year have in store for blockchain and NFTs?
I’ll leave you with this thought. Until next time, keep it up for your favorite Chainwitcher.