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How Digital Horse Racing Became an NFT Favorite

Chris Laurent, co-founder of Zed Run, tells how their virtual horse-racing game has swept the crypto world.



It all started with a poster in Chinese restaurant in Australia.

Chris Laurent, co-founder of Virtually Human Studio in Sydney and inventor of the NFT horse-racing game Zed Run, was picking up his dinner one night in late 2017 when he noticed an advertisement on the wall for a local stud farm. It provided a stallion for breeding for a cost of $15,000 Australian dollars.

Laurent, a horse-racing fan who was working as a consultant for an Australian bookmaker at the time, examined the poster more closely and found a caption beneath it that said that this specific horse might reproduce up to 200 times each year.

Laurent had dismissed CryptoKitties, a Pokémon-style digital trading game based on the Ethereum blockchain, as “kind of silly” at the time, but seeing this poster made him realize that a version of CryptoKitties’ breeding system could be used to democratize racehorse ownership and share more of the money made with the average punter.

A few months later, Zed Run was born.

Zed Run co-creator Chris Laurent. Image: Virtually Human

The non-fungible token, a provably unique crypto asset that may be connected to digital content, lies at the heart of Zed Run. Images, video, music, or, in the instance of Zed Run, a digital horse can all be used as material.

Laurent and co-founder Rob Salha couldn’t think anyone would pay money for their non-fungible gee-gees at first, especially since the game’s racing and breeding components had yet to be released. Within a few weeks, horses purchased from Zed for $80 were selling for as much as $10,000 on secondary markets. That’s when the two recognized they’d hit upon something.

“The greatest method to bring in new consumers when it comes to blockchain adoption is to give them something they’re comfortable with,” Laurent says. “You don’t have to explain why Zed is doing well: you buy a horse, pay to join a race, and take home a share of the pot if you’re successful—simply that’s it.”

Zed Run races take place on a neon-tinged, futuristic course. Image: Virtually Human

Zed Run events take place on a floating track that slices across a Tron-style retro-futurist landscape, unlike the actual thing. Each race is decided purely by the inherent abilities of the dozen contending horses, with the outcome determined by an algorithm that considers thousands of conceivable outcomes.

Those abilities are based on the horse’s DNA, which is determined by three factors: the horse’s bloodline (Nakamoto, Szabo, Finney, or Buterin, each with its own set of characteristics), genotype (a number that indicates how far removed it is from its ancestors, with 1 being the minimum and 268 being the maximum), and breed (Genesis, Legendary, Exclusive, Elite, Cross, or Pacer).

Digital Thoroughbreds

Only 38,000 Genesis horses—the game’s quickest and purest digital nags—will ever be available, but breeding two of them together gives you one of the others. For example, given their combined genomes, the progeny of two Genesis Nakamotos will be Legendary, while a Genesis Nakamoto and Legendary Szabo coupling will produce an Exclusive Szabo, and so on.

The purer your horse, the better your chances of owning a winner, but entering the appropriate races is the key to Zed Run success. Each horse is given a rating based on its performance after their first benchmark event, which decides which class it belongs to. You can enter races above but not below your horse’s class, with points earned or deducted based on performance in subsequent races. The higher your horse’s victory rate, the higher its secondary market value will be, and the more you may charge other owners to breed with it.

And that’s where Zed Run stands apart from most other NFTs: it genuinely provides investors something to do with their money. Owners of NFT art can hold on to their investment and hope for a price increase over time, but they can’t compete with a JPEG. “We’re one of the first NFTs to provide a positive user experience,” Laurent claims. “Not only can you use your NFT as a store of value, but you can also play with it and earn a profit without losing ownership of it.”

Races in the Zed Run are notoriously tight, with apparently ‘lesser’ horses regularly defeating those with purer bloodlines. Watching one presently has limited appeal for those without a stake in the game—but betting is only one of many things in the Zed pipeline. “We’ve spoken to the bulk of large wagering operators throughout the world,” Laurent says, “and we’ll collaborate with them in the future once we have the framework and regulations in place to be able to do that.” “We don’t want to hurry into it.”

Skins In The Game

Skins are a more recent addition to the Zed Run stable. Horses are presently available in a variety of colors, including black, pink, and green, but Zed will soon begin auctioning skins in conjunction with “some of the best companies in the world,” according to Laurent. These will be delivered via collectible NFT cartridges in line with the ’80s style, with the first ones coming as part of a cooperation with Atari.

These skins will initially be purely decorative, but you’ll eventually be able to limit races to only those who own a specific type of skin, as part of a larger effort to give the Zed community more control over how everything works, beginning with a ‘party mode’ that allows users to create private events that only their friends can attend. Laurent explains, “We want the timetable to be more organic and user-driven.” “That, we believe, is the first step towards handing the torch to our community.”

Staying On Track

Zed will also add track conditions, weather, gate preference, weariness, tiers within classes, and possibly avatars in the coming years, though Laurent thinks the latter would likely necessitate a new game mode. “We had jockeys in our first mock-ups, and then we put the game together, and the horses looked fantastic by themselves,” he explains, before detailing how owners will be able to hire specific jockeys to help their horses win. “Another reason we left it out was because cross-pollinating two NFTs that are based on performance is difficult,” he continues. “It may come in the future, I’m not too sure just yet, but it certainly sounds like a really interesting area to explore.”

Laurent has a lot of additional ideas that he wants to try out, including fences and jumping, racetrack ownership, and even 1,000-horse races, but it’s a long-term goal. Laurent has even greater ideas for the future than Zed, who recently purchased a plot of land in the crypto-based virtual world Decentraland, where users will be able to socialize with other owners, find new horses, and watch races. “We’ve been talking about AR and VR since the beginning,” he explains. “You could put on a headset and watch some horses galloping across the Las Vegas strip, or you could take out your phone and simulate them galloping through the real world in front of you.”

While limited public acceptance of that technology means that those kinds of executions remain niche, Laurent is confident that we’ll get there eventually, which is why a Zed Run horse has a jaw, teeth, and tongue, as well as blinking and moving its lips and nostrils. He describes his idea of a Zed Run horse being passed down through families like an antique watch or cherished ring, eventually emerging in a Ready Player One-style metaverse. “Thinking about that is mind-boggling, and a lot of people won’t get it, but things will proceed in that direction.”

Meanwhile, Laurent wants to reassure anyone who thinks they’ve already missed the Zed train that it’s still early days. Only around half of the 38,000 Genesis horses have been released so far, and there’s a reason why the game is still in beta.

“There are a lot of factors in the coding that haven’t been activated yet,” he explains. “One of the most crucial aspects of the ecosystem is guaranteeing that every racehorse has a home, and that if you enter the game in five years, you will still have a shot. If you’re here right now, you’re not too late, in our opinion.”


In the Last Month, Sales of NBA Top Shots NFT Have Increased by 72 Percent

After a $305 million fundraising round in early 2021, DapperLabs’ NBA Top Shots NFTs have been gaining traction since June 2021.



#nft #nfthours #nbatopshot

Despite the current crypto market downturn, NFTs are still thriving. In January 2022, OpenSea had $3.5 billion in sales. In addition, NBA Top Shot NFTs, a Dapper Labs NFT collection, debuted in October 2020. Top Shot was created to be purchased with money. To put it another way, collectors didn’t need to understand cryptocurrencies or blockchain to acquire these NFTs.

According to CryptoSlam, Top Shot NFTs raised $53.8 million in the last 30 days, increasing 72 percent. This week, NBA star Kevin Durant starred in a new TV and social media campaign. First-time Top Shot purchasers will receive a free Durant NFT moment. In addition, Durant just became a Coinbase ambassador, while Stephen Curry joined FTX as a worldwide ambassador.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Strike NFT Collectibles are Dapper Labs’ first foray into NFTs. These will primarily consist of video material from UFC events and Packs, which was released on January 23.

NFL to join the NFT party

After the current NFL season, NFL All Day will be available on the Flow Blockchain. In addition, digital video highlights will be available as NFTs. However, it’s unclear whether they’ll be as popular as the NFT Top Shots.

NBA Top Shot #16538716, which sold for $10,000 in the last 24 hours, was the most expensive Top Shot NFT sold, with $1.47 million in sales volume.

Surprising popularity of Top Shots

NFTs like the NBA TopShots haven’t gotten the same kind of attention from the crypto world as CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Meebits, and World of Women. On the other hand, Durant could be to blame for the recent sales uptick. NBA Top Shot NFTs reportedly outsold CryptoKitties, according to BeInCrypto. In the first week of June 2021, DappRadar detected over 70,000 traders purchasing or selling digital cards. Top Shot’s volume increased by 67 percent to more than $8 million at the time.

Dapper Labs secured $305 million in March 2021, with Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant among the major investors.

In October of 2020, Top Shot was released. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid for NBA Top Shot NFTs, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban owns 87 “Moments” NFTs.

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‘It’s Time’: NBA Top Shot Maker Dapper Labs to Launch NFT Platform for UFC

Following the UFC 270 pay-per-view event, NFTs from the Ultimate Fighting Championship will debut on Flow this weekend.



#nft #nfthours #dapperlabs #ufc #collection

Dapper Labs announced today that it would launch an NFT platform for the popular mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship later this week, following its success with NBA Top Shot and subsequent arrangements with the NFL and LaLiga.

UFC Strike will premiere on Sunday, January 23, immediately following the UFC 270 live pay-per-view event on Saturday. UFC Strike’s digital collectibles, like Top Shot’s, will be based on video footage from previous events and will be minted on Dapper’s Flow blockchain. However, unlike Top Shot, the UFC collectible moments will include the original soundtrack to match the video clip.

Furthermore, rather than having different tier levels, all packs—which contain a random selection of moments—will be sold at the same price (as with NBA Top Shot). NFT moments from fighters like Francis Ngannou, Amanda Nunes, Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, Derrick Lewis, and Justin Gaethje will be featured in the first pack.

Dapper’s contract with the UFC was signed before NBA Top Shot was out, which is interesting. According to statistics from DappRadar, the partnership was announced in February 2020, when the NFT sector was still small and niche—well before it grew to $23 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Dapper Labs’ head of partnerships, Caty Tedman, said that the company wanted to debut NBA Top Shot first and learn from the experience—which includes serious scaling issues early last year—before launching the UFC memorabilia.

She stated, “We’ve come to the stage where we feel ready to [launch].” “We’re ecstatic to provide UFC fans with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as well as the utility that comes with this type of product. We’re finally ready to launch this as the industry, and we grow together.”

Tedman stated that the UFC Strike platform would be heavily promoted during this weekend’s pay-per-view event, including appearances by UFC President Dana White and fighters.

Because the UFC’s timetable is mainly based on pay-per-view fights every few weeks, UFC Strike will plan its releases to coincide with those significant events. As a result, the portal will first focus on fights from the previous year but ultimately include highlights from older UFC fights. The first fight in the promotion took place in 1993.

Despite the roughly two-year gap between the original announcement and this week’s launch, Tedman said the UFC—which already has a crypto fan token through the platform—was keen to make a big statement in the NFT industry.

“Every company has its personality, and the UFC’s approach is to test with us and try new things with us,” she explained. “It’s fantastic to have a partner that doesn’t say, ‘Well, let’s try it little and see how it goes,’ when you’re talking about how to launch a product. It’s like, ‘Let’s make it as huge as we can.’ ‘Let’s do it in a UFC-style fight.'”

Unlike Top Shot and the impending NFL All Day platform, UFC Strike will be released without a closed beta period to the general public. According to Tedman, Dapper is investigating live activations at future UFC events, as it has done with the NBA, and added value for UFC NFTs, such as potential community or gaming features.

Top Shot in 2022

The UFC announcement comes on the heels of NBA Top Shot’s first major commercial campaign, including Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets player and two-time NBA champion debuting yesterday.

In October, Durant and his Boardroom media group signed a deal with Dapper Labs to give him “a starring position across NBA Top Shot,” according to the company. According to Tedman, Durant, an early investor in Coinbase who has invested in other crypto firms, is familiar with the Top Shot concept.

“He’s a world-class athlete. He’s a top-tier human. He’s a tech entrepreneur,” she explained. “It’s been a long time since he’s been with us. He’s been interested in the crypto world for quite some time. Therefore, he ticks all the boxes. But isn’t he also swaggering? There’s nothing about him that wouldn’t make him a fantastic candidate for this type of campaign.”

ACCORDING TO TEDMAN, the NBA Top Shot team is “very focused on raising participation in the product and increasing accessibility” for 2022. Following the early 2021 boom in demand and Dapper’s time spent improving platform reliability and customer service, the business feels Top Shot still has substantial growth potential ahead of it.

“This sector is still in its infancy,” she explained. “There’s no such thing as ‘tried and true,'” says the author. “We’re going to attempt a lot of things, but we’re going to do a lot of things to make sure that current collectors feel valued—so they don’t feel like we’re creating an experience where they don’t feel valued.”

And NFL All Day, which Dapper promised would debut by the end of the current NFL season, is still on track to do so—for reference, Super Bowl LVI is on February 13. The NFT platform is now in closed beta testing, and given the recent nature of Dapper’s NFL partnership, Tedman said they’re concentrating on polishing it before going public.

“We’re much newer to the NFL,” she added, “in the same way that every organization has a different personality and every partnership has a different pace. So as a result, we’re taking our time with it.”

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Meta’s Instagram Experimentation With NFT Marketplace

Meta, formerly Facebook, is said to be working on a feature that will allow users to display their NFT collections on Instagram.



#nft #nfthours #meta #facebook #instagram #marketplace

According to the Financial Times, Meta, formerly Facebook, has new intentions to enter the fast-growing non-fungible token (NFT) market.

The Financial Times stated, citing unnamed sources, that the social media company is working on a tool that will allow users to mint and trade NFTs and display their collections on their Meta and Instagram profiles. In April 2012, Meta, formerly Facebook, paid $1 billion for Instagram.

The blockchain network on which these capabilities would be developed is still unknown. However, NFTs are currently available on several blockchains, including Solana, Tezos, Ethereum, Flow, and WAX.

According to two sources, an NFT marketplace similar to OpenSea is also in the works.

OpenSea has been a cornerstone of the burgeoning NFT industry. Despite a more significant market decline, the platform set a new monthly volume high of $3.5 billion two weeks before the end of January. According to a report by analytics firm Chainalysis, the total market for digital collectibles will reach $41 billion in 2021.

The $69 million auctions by digital artist Beeple at Christie’s, monthly million-dollar sales of CryptoPunks, and a slew of celebrities endorsing the craze in one way or another capped off a spectacular year.

This publicity has piqued the curiosity of non-crypto companies as well.

Instagram, Meta and NFTs

In December, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, said that the company is “actively studying NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience.”

The company organized a session for NFT makers earlier this year to raise awareness about how to use the technology. However, artists said they “need more information on how to [use NFTs], not just from us, but from other creators,” according to Instagram’s VP of global partnerships, Charles Porch.

NFTs are also expected to play a significant role in the metaverse, a persistent digital world where individuals interact through virtual avatars. Therefore, establish non-fungible ownership of objects inside a wholly digital environment.

With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform. Facebook’s recent rebranding as Meta signaled CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intent to move “from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first.” With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform.

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