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.
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 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).
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.”
Sorare, a Fantasy Soccer NFT Platform, has Raised $680 Million in a Round Led by SoftBank
The $4.3 billion financing values the Paris-based NFT firm.
It follows a period of fast expansion for Sorare, which now has 600,000 active users.
SoftBank led a $680 million Series B funding for Sorare, a soccer-focused NFT trading platform.
Since May of this year, there have been rumors about the investment. The transaction, which is now complete, values Sorare at $4.3 billion.
SoftBank, Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, and Liontree are making their first investments in the firm, with existing investors Benchmark, Accel, and Headline also participating.
Sorare is an Ethereum-based platform that allows fans to exchange NFT trading cards of great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. The Paris-based business, founded in 2018, has sold $150 million in cards so far this year.
Between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of this year, the platform’s monthly active paying users increased 34 times, while quarterly sales increased 51 times. It already has 600,000 registered users and has licensed players from more than 180 soccer clubs, including Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Juventus.
The money will be used to help the platform expand into other fantasy sports, hire more employees, run marketing campaigns with partners and athletes, and create its first office in the United States.
Another fintech startup is backed by SoftBank
SoftBank has financed several fintech companies this year, mainly through its Vision Fund 2.
Revolut, a $33 billion neobank; DriveWealth, an infrastructure firm that supports fractionalized investing in U.S. stocks; OPay, a Nigerian payments firm; and Mercado Bitcoin, a Brazilian crypto exchange, through its Latin America Fund.
“Sorare sits at the confluence of two incredibly fascinating markets in digital collectibles and fantasy sports,” according to Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International and COO of SoftBank Group.
“It’s clear from Sorare’s phenomenal growth this year that football fans all around the world have been eagerly anticipating the ‘game within the game’ that Sorare provides,” he continued.
Biggest NFT Marketplaces
We take a look at the marketplaces where you can buy and trade these unique digital art tokens as their popularity and price is exploding.
NFTs had been around for a while, but in the year 2021, they became widely known.
The cryptographically unique tokens indicate a title of ownership over digital property such as art, music, or videos—but it was the digital art scene that sparked the NFT market, with record-breaking sales like Beeple’s $69 million Christie’s auction drawing headlines around the world.
Since then, fans have jumped on every new NFT craze, spending hundreds (and in some cases millions) of money on games like CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Loot.
But, you might wonder, where are these NFTs being purchased. NFT marketplaces have become like a vibrant virtual high street, selling digital art and collectibles at every price point imaginable. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular platform.
OpenSea was the first and by far the largest peer-to-peer NFT marketplace. According to analytics platform DappRadar, it has a total trade volume of over $6.5 billion at the time of writing, allowing NFTs of anything from in-game items and collectibles to artwork, music, GIFs, and more.
Connecting your MetaMask wallet is the simplest way to sign up; however other wallets like Coinbase Wallet, Bitski, Formatic, and others are also supported.
After you’ve connected, purchasing an NFT is a straightforward process; you only need to browse through the various collections or search for something that catches your eye, then submit an offer and wait to see whether it’s approved.
It’s also simple to upload your NFT work. Go to the “Create” tab, connect your wallet as a creator, upload your NFT, complete the description, and wait for the millions to pour in.
2. Axie Marketplace
The second-largest NFT marketplace is hosted by the NFT-powered video game Axie Infinity, with a total trade volume of more than $2.1 billion on Dappradar. However, it only deals in Axies, adorable Pokémon-style digital pets that gamers can buy and sell on the Axie Marketplace.
You can also use the game’s built-in breeding mechanics to make new Axies, which you can then sell on the Marketplace. Unlike art NFTs, which are collected for the sake of collecting, Axie Infinity’s NFTs have a purpose: they may be used in-game to fight monsters and other players, earning tokens that can be used to create new species. Axie Infinity’s NFTs have proven so profitable that some players in the Philippines and Indonesia make a living breeding and trading them.
However, Axie Infinity is one of the most difficult NFT services to use for new users, and you’ll have to jump through a few hoops before you can even start playing the game.
You’ll need to set up a Ronin wallet, transfer ETH into Ronin, and acquire a minimum of three Axies from the Axie market in addition to an Ethereum wallet like MetaMask (which will set you back several hundred dollars). This isn’t ideal for casual passers-by, but it’s not beyond a seasoned crypto user’s capabilities.
CryptoPunks is a series of 10,000 randomly generated characters with pixel art aesthetics and distinct traits that were one of the first demonstrations of NFTs on the Ethereum network. Unfortunately, while they were once available for free, the only way to obtain one today is to purchase one.
That involves going to the marketplace run by CryptoPunks founder Larva Labs, where most sales are made. And buying one is expensive: the cheapest Punk now costs 94.99 ETH (about $285,000), while the most valued one sold on the marketplace (number 3100) sold for an incredible $7.58 million. That explains Larva Labs’ $1.3 billion in all-time trading volume.
First, connect your MetaMask wallet, browse the available Punks (those with red backgrounds are for sale), and place your bid.
The most challenging aspect of the procedure is persuading yourself to spend such a large sum of money, but hey, that’s on you. After all, the worth of art is in the eyes of the viewer.
4.NBA Top Shot Marketplace
NBA Top Shot is a set of digital trading cards using NBA video highlight clips, and it was one of the first NFT series to find momentum with the general public. Clips are stored in your safe, encrypted blockchain-verified wallet when you purchase a pack, where you can view them or resell them on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace.
The popularity of NBA Top Shot can be attributed to the fact that its makers, Dapper Labs, have made it simple for the average user to get started. Linking your Google account to Dapper is the simplest method to sign up for NBA Top Shot, after which you’ll be asked to input your phone number for SMS authentication.
After that, you must complete a few account creation processes, including picking your favorite team. After that, you can join a drop on fresh packs, which will put you in a virtual queue before grabbing a bag. Then, following another SMS verification, you can pay using an existing crypto wallet, a Flow wallet, your Dapper money, or, more conveniently, a credit card.
Rarible is a community-owned platform that offers a wide range of digital art and collectibles. It is one of the significant NFT marketplaces on Ethereum. Dappradar presently has the fifth-highest all-time trading volume, with $210 million changing hands.
You can buy and sell all kinds of material, just like on OpenSea. Sellers can also make many NFTs for a single image to sell it multiple times.
Users who have dabbled in comparable NFT marketplaces like OpenSea will feel right at home with Rarible’s user interface, which is easy enough for relative crypto newbies to utilize.
You can log in using MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, MyEtherWallet, or any mobile wallet that supports WalletConnect. You can use funds in your wallet to buy, or you can top up your wallet with fiat cash by bank transfer or debit card once you’ve signed up.
Where Rarible’s design overwhelms you with a dizzying selection of flickering GIFs and live auctions, SuperRare’s UI is far more pared-back and straightforward.
It’s also a lot more curated, as it bills itself as a social network that promotes the development and collection of crypto art. In addition, it collaborates closely with artists, requiring work to be submitted and vetted before it can be listed; in other words, quality above quantity.
A compatible wallet, such as MetaMask or Formatic, is required to sign up for SuperRare. An additional step requires you to create a username and password linked to your wallet address, but it just takes a few seconds, so you’ll be browsing the platform’s exclusive NFTs in no time.
KnownOrigin, like SuperRare, promises to deliver a more curated, gallery-like experience for the discerning NFT enthusiast. Its all-time trade volume is under $6.9 million. All of its artwork files are stored on IPFS, which gives the underlying assets some protection. With a heavy focus on digital art, this marketplace avoids the wackier features of the NFT universe; therefore, no wacky avatars or charming monsters will be found here.
KnownOrigin is straightforward to use, at the risk of sounding like a broken record. Simply link your wallet, such as MetaMask or Formatic, and you’ll be bidding on your own desired NFT assets in no time.
Foundation, which bills itself as a “creative playground” for artists, currently has a total trading volume of slightly over $79 million. The NFT of popular Internet meme Nyan Cat, Edward Snowden’s debut NFT, and an audiovisual digital collectible made by producer Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, have occurred there.
Foundation’s marketplace is straightforward to use once you’ve connected your MetaMask or other software wallet with WalletConnect. You can put bids on timed auctions just like you would on a standard auction site.
MakersPlace is another niche NFT marketplace that prides itself on having several exclusive digital fine art collections. Although its total volume is minimal ($23.5 million at the time of writing), it contains many one-of-a-kind items that add to its exclusivity.
It’s simple to become a buyer on MakersPlace, and you can even save time by logging in with your Google or Facebook accounts.
As part of the registration procedure, you’ll have to choose five artists to follow, and you’ll be able to buy their creations with either your MetaMask ETH balance or (more conveniently) your credit card. Then, if you’re a creator, you’ll need to fill out an online form to request an invitation to join the platform, which the curators will review.
One of the first waves of large NFT marketplaces, Nifty Gateway, has a significant supporter of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, which purchased the site in 2019. Nifty Gateway made waves during the NFT boom by brokering the sale of Beeple’s CROSSROAD for $6.6 million in February 2021, which was one of the first multimillion-dollar NFT deals. By May, the platform’s gross sales value had surpassed $300 million.
The portal hosts artists such as The Weeknd, Grimes, and Eminem and delivers a tightly curated selection of NFT drops on a tri-weekly schedule. It also features a marketplace where you may look through curated collections, verified artists, and a more extensive selection of work from unconfirmed artists.
Because of Nifty Gateway’s close connection with Gemini, getting started is a reasonably straightforward process. To begin, you’ll need to create an account on the site (and use Stripe to authenticate your identity if you wish to sell NFTs). Next, you’ll need to fund your account, either with a credit card or by sending ETH to a deposit address. After that, you’re ready to purchase NFTs from the marketplace.
You can also link your Gemini exchange account to your Nifty Gateway account, allowing you to make purchases and withdrawals using your Gemini exchange account balance (your Gemini account can be topped up using bank transfer, wire transfer, crypto deposits, and trades).
BakerySwap is a more miniature NFT marketplace than OpenSea, but that’s not surprising given that most NFT markets are built on Ethereum, while BakerySwap was one of the first to start on Binance Smart Chain (BSC). One site element is the NFT marketplace, which allows users to trade and swap liquidity assets directly.
The NFT marketplace is simple enough to use, requiring only a MetaMask connection. However, because this platform is based on the Binance Smart Chain, NFT assets can only be acquired with BNB rather than the more commonly used ETH.
12.Binance NFT Marketplace
Binance NFT marketplace is, as you might expect, an NFT platform provided by Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. The company intends to create an NFT marketplace with exclusive offerings and collaborations to entice the exchange’s large user base to its platform.
If you already have a Binance account, you’ll be happy to know that it will operate with Binance NFT instantly. It’s as simple as bidding on any items that grab your eye after you’ve gotten in. Depending on what the producers have specified, you can use ETH, BNB, or BUSD.
The most recent NFT mini-boom occurred on Solana, a blockchain that competes with Ethereum. On marketplaces like Solanart, collections like Degenerate Ape Academy, Aurory, and SolPunks have witnessed trading volumes of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Solanart, unlike OpenSea, is a selected collection of NFT collections, with a small selection of NFTs available for purchase.
To begin purchasing Solana NFTs on Solanart, you must first download a Solana wallet, such as Phantom or Solflare, and load it with Solana from your preferred exchange. Phantom has direct integration with the crypto exchange FTX, making depositing funds from that exchange a breeze.
It’s only a question of going to your preferred NFT, connecting your Solana wallet to the marketplace, and placing your bid from there.
Rarestone Capital Makes a Strategic Investment in Rainicorn to Strengthen the Play-to-Earn NFT Farming Industry
Rainicorn, a multifunctional platform that has established itself as a hub for innovation in the crossover between NFTs and DeFi, focusing on gamification, has received a direct strategic investment from Rarestone Capital, an active investment startup capital fund and accelerator.
The investment, which includes a direct purchase of Rainicorn’s native token (RAINI), is motivated by a shared desire to expand and enhance Rainicorn’s play-to-earn ecosystem in a community-centric manner. The contract includes hands-on marketing support under Rarestone Labs, the fund’s incubation arm, including community, social media, and viral marketing.
The popular play-to-earn trading card game The Lords of Light, which is presently completing its first public card pack drop thanks to significant community presales, is part of the Rainicorn ecosystem, termed the Rainiverse. Players can gather playable NFT cards and use them to build decks capable of decimating their opponents in turn-based combat in this competitive trading card game. The game also allows players to level up their cards and contains DeFi aspects such as the opportunity to stake high-level cards for passive income. Finally, players can acquire Photon, the game’s principal currency, by engaging in a range of strategic and competitive behaviors in-game.
“We are tremendously thrilled to develop a long-term partnership with Rainicorn. Even though the sector is still in its early stages, the top twelve play-to-earn games are currently processing approximately $1 billion in transactions. This cooperation is tremendously exciting for us, given the demand for Raini’s early releases and their team’s vision and execution ability.”- Charles Read, Rarestone Capital Co-Founder
“We envision our cooperation with Rarestone Capital as the game-changer that will push Raini to the next level,” says Rainicorn Co-Founder @Mindspheres. “The degree of assistance and contacts that Rarestone brings to the table are extremely beneficial to the Raini project and our goals.”
Rainicorn also has a cross-chain NFT platform, a launchpad, and a marketplace where participants may buy and sell NFTs. Raini’s mission is to build a broad and diverse interconnected ecosystem with a comprehensive roadmap of unique features and novel concepts to help drive the sector ahead, with staff across the globe, including Australian co-founders.
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