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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.

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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.”

Projects

Enjin is Working on a Digital Version of Egypt’s Pyramids

Collectors will be able to deploy iconic Egyptian monuments, such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, on virtual platforms as part of the NFT’s limited edition.

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According to the press release, Enjin, a leading participant in the virtual artifact and NFT market, it would develop NFT versions of the most iconic Egyptian landmarks, including the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx.

Virtual Worlds, Enjin’s project partner, has more than 20 years of experience digitizing historical objects. This will be the first time major historical monuments have been used as NFT tokens, allowing for new ways to engage with painstakingly authentic replicas of landmarks all across the world. The Unreal Engine will be used in the NFT renditions of the Egyptian monuments, along with photogrammetry scans of 60K resolution, to create the most accurate digital duplicate of the artefacts.

NFT Gaming Industry

Enjin and Virtual Worlds intend to use the knowledge gained from copying Egyptian monuments as NFT to create 3D worlds in which users can search for new NFTs that will be instantly transferred to them via smart contracts, as well as participate in treasure hunts that will reward them with Enjin tokens.

Real-world item models, such as the Picchu Mast, will have its own collection of NFT relics in addition to the typical computer game artifacts like sarcophagi, chariots, scepters, and sculptures. The NFT will then be integrated into Enjin’s VR and AR apps, as well as other 3D games.

They’ll be exchanged on unique NFT marketplaces based on the JumpNet Enjin blockchain, as well as more traditional analogs like Ethereum, Polkadot, and Efinity.

Expanding

They’ll be exchanged on unique NFT marketplaces based on the JumpNet Enjin blockchain, as well as more traditional analogs like Ethereum, Polkadot, and Efinity.

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Marvel NFT Marketplace Binance Smart Chain is the Newest Addition to the Binance Smart Chain Family

The Marvel Non-fungible Token Marketplace Aims to Bring Together Cryptocurrency Dealers and NFT Collectors.

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Fans of Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) can now trade and collect on a new NFT marketplace. NFT Marvel is the world’s first and only token designed particularly for Marvel Comics fans who wish to interact with the characters while also earning investments.

The NFT Marvel Marketplace is a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange based on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC). Assets can be converted into NFT tokens by creators. The marketplace’s universe revolves around Marvel fan tokens (MV). Each engagement on the platform earns you MV tokens.

Interactions can include the creation of digital artwork and its dissemination to the general audience. Users can also send the NFT art they’ve developed as a gift. MV tokens are earned for each gift sent. The platform has stated that it will deliver MV token holders bespoke NFT presents at random.

While not hired by Marvel, the NFT Marvel founders anticipate that the Marvel community will help to keep the project going and expand it further. To reflect this, they created the token metric technique.

The transaction is subject to a 6% tax levy, which is divided into three parts, for each trade. MV will allocate 2% to all holders in order to increase the value and ownership of the company. To ensure the long-term viability of MV, 2% will be contributed to the liquidity pool on Pancake Swap. The remaining 2% will be incinerated at the end.

BSC enables the marketplace to provide low-cost, near-instant transactions. This is significant since NFT fees have been identified as a significant barrier to mainstream adoption.

Crypto-comic Books are on the Way

As interest in crypto grows, so does interest from new genres of popular culture. Comics and comic book collections are one of the most recent subgroups to emerge. Artists have a practically limitless number of options thanks to the large variety of comic books and characters available. When you consider that many true Marvel and DC artists are entering the NFT space, things start to look quite interesting for fans.

Despite the widespread interest in comics and nonfiction books, not all of it is favorable. While former Marvel or DC artists releasing new work of their famous topics pleases the fans, the businesses themselves are not thrilled. In reality, both Marvel and DC have gone to considerable lengths to punish artists who profit from their characters.

Jose Delbo, an 87-year-old artist who previously worked on Wonder Woman and Transformers, is the clearest example of this. Delbo built an NFT collection featuring largely Wonder Woman art, which he sold for approximately $2 million.

The artwork was described as a limited-edition, signed digital production, with non-commercial rights granted to the winner. While both Marvel and DC agree that in the past, comic book artists were permitted to earn from pencil and ink drawings as a professional courtesy, selling digital art for millions of dollars may be overstepping the mark.

“The offering for sale of any digital photographs incorporating DC’s intellectual property with or without NFTs, whether rendered for DC’s publications or rendered outside the limits of one’s contractual engagement with DC, is not permitted,” said Jay Kogan, senior VP of legal affairs at DC Comics.

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As New NFT Collection Drops Art Blocks Surges 500%

In the last seven days, sales totaled $1.4 million.

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Art Blocks, an Ethereum-based digital storefront for programmable art projects, has seen a tremendous increase in sales and transaction volume. The introduction of a collection in partnership with Sotheby’s auction house, which contains digital art from the first 19 selected projects on Art Blocks, has sparked the initiative.

The platform’s NFT sales have surged by about 200 percent to 952, resulting in $1.4 million in transaction volume. According to DappRadar, this surge in activity has pushed Art Blocks to 7th place in the overall NFT collection rankings. Surprisingly, the average price of an NFT sale on Art Blocks in the last seven days has been roughly $1,500. Importantly, Art Blocks is coming closer to Rarible, the premier NFT collections platform, as a result of the recent surge in traders and sales.

Natively Digital

Natively Digital is the name of the NFT art auction event, which is one of four high-profile NFT sales by Sotheby’s in 2021. The 19 pieces of art sold for a total of $81,900, with each item selling for roughly $4,300 on average. Looking at the individual component floor prices on Art Blocks, it appears that objects were sold for a low price. On OpenSea, a Ringer art NFT would sell for at least 4.5 ETH or roughly $9,000, while Nimbuds has a floor price of 0.49 ETH or roughly $1200. The winning bidder in the Sotheby’s auction appeared to have gotten a good deal on all 19 pieces.

Drops Run Activity

Each of the 19 artworks in the Sotheby’s collection is unique in its own right because it was one of the first to be created on the Art Blocks platform. The NFT marketplace has certainly benefited from the attention of both the crypto art community and the Sotheby’s art community.

Importantly, sales of digital art at Sotheby’s are not tracked on-chain, therefore the data displayed on DappRadar does not reflect this. What’s happening is that the high-profile collection is causing a domino effect, with another drop driving awareness and usage of the platform.

Another cause for the uptick in traffic could be a drop released in conjunction with Tyler Hobbs on June 7th. The Fidenza collection, created by a visual artist from Texas, is said to be the artist’s most adaptable algorithm to date. “While the program maintains focused on organized curves and blocks, the variety in scale, organization, texture, and color utilization it can employ creates a vast range of creative possibilities,” the creator adds.

As a surge of interest in digital collectibles swept the globe in 2021, we saw both Sotheby’s and Christie’s connect with NFT art collections. Sotheby’s was also engaged in the recent sale of a rare Alien CryptoPunk, which sold for more over $11 million. More intriguing is the fact that, despite the fact that the cryptocurrency market appears to be entering a bear market, NFT sales are still strong. Last week, sales of NBA Top Shot increased by 50% week over week, but digital collectibles on Wax appear to be untouched by the price drop.

What is Art Blocks?

Users choose a style they prefer, pay for the job, and an algorithm creates a randomly generated version of the content that is transferred to their Ethereum account. A static image, 3D model, or interactive experience could be the end product.

Each output is unique, and the sorts of content that may be developed on the platform are virtually limitless. The generative script is written to the blockchain, which distinguishes the Art Blocks platform from others. The NFTs that are minted as a result are not controlled or curated by the artist, and the program’s output is a complete surprise to everyone.

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