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Are NFTs Dead? A Look at the Surviving Projects in 2024

By Evan Jones04/02/2024

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During the 2021 crypto bull run, non-fungible tokens or NFTs became the hottest phrase in the sector. Artists were able to sell NFTs of their art for somewhat outrageous prices, while NFT projects that featured games and loyalty programs became increasingly popular. When the bull run ended though, so did the popularity of many of these NFT projects, but did these projects die? Let’s look at some of the hottest projects from the last bull run and how they’re doing on this new one. 

Notable NFT Projects from 2021 Bull Run

Below we’re going to examine three of the most notable NFT projects that exploded during the 2021 cryptocurrency bull run. We’ll discuss their price action during the last run versus now, the overall use of each project then versus now, and assess their viability for the future. Let’s start with everyone’s favorite pictures of apes.

Bored Ape Yacht Club

Bored Ape Yacht Club or BAYC might be the biggest NFT project from the last bull run. The NFTs of apes did so well that they later also launched ApeCoin (APE) as an added bonus to the NFT holders. BAYC was a run of 10,000 unique NFTs with apes featuring a variety of traits with various rarities launched by Yuga Labs. They launched some subsequent NFT projects such as Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC). 

Owning a BAYC NFT gave holders access to a variety of benefits such as invites to exclusive events, while APE is the governance token of the BAYC ecosystem. 

At their peak, in August-Oct 2021, BAYC NFTs were selling for an average of 45 ETH, with ETH being around $3k USD at the time. This means to buy a BAYC NFT would have cost you well over $100,000 USD. ApeCoin topped out at about $39 USD per APE in March 2022.

The market for BAYC has somewhat predictably dropped, with the average sale price now closer to 20 ETH, if not lower, with much lower sales volume. ETH is still about $3k, meaning that it now costs about $60,000 USD or less to buy a BAYC NFT. If you bought one at the peak, you’ve lost half your value. APE isn’t doing much better, as it now trades at under $2 USD a piece, down 95% from its all time highs. 

The fact that BAYC NFTs are still selling at all means the project isn’t dead, but it will likely take some sort of injection to their utility in order for them to start going up in value again rather than down. 

CryptoPunks

Before Bored Ape Yacht Club took the NFT scene by storm in 2021, CryptoPunks paved the way. Launched in 2017 as a collection of 10,000 NFTs with varying attributes and rarities, the collection made headlines with articles in The New York Times and sales at Christie’s of London. CryptoPunks was created by Larva Labs but was sold to Yuga Labs (BAYC creators) in 2022.

At their peak in 2021, their average sale price was over 100 ETH per CryptoPunk, which was almost half a million dollars per NFT. Though they don’t sell at the same volume they were during the last bull run, they still get bought and sold more than 20 times a week with average sale prices of over 50 ETH (over $150,000 USD). For a collection with just 10,000 items, this is pretty good sales volume.

Notably, one of the rarest CryptoPunks, Punk 3100, a rare alien variant, just sold for $16 million at the beginning of March. It was originally sold for about $2,000 USD, before being flipped for $7.5 million in 2021.

Due to their status as one of the original NFT collections, CryptoPunks may hold value better than some of the other NFT projects that cropped up during the last bull run. 

Axie Infinity

Axie Infinity is a blockchain-based game where you collect and battle creatures called Axies, which exist in the form of unique NFTs with varying traits. As you play the game you earn Axie Infinity Shards (AXS), which is a governance token for the game and can also be traded/used for purchases on the Axie Marketplace.Essentially every aspect of Axie Infinity is an NFT that can be bought and sold, which makes it a community-driven game where players buy and sell from each other. 

At its peak in 2021. Axie NFTs were selling for anywhere between 0.1-0.2 ETH if not more, which was about $300-600 USD depending on when you bought. It’s worth noting that to actually play the game you need a team of 3 Axies, meaning you’d need to buy 3 NFTs at that price point. AXS as an asset topped out in November 2021 at over $150 USD per, but it now trades around $9 USD per, down 95% from its high. 

Axie NFTs still sell on a pretty regular basis with over 175k sales of various ecosystem NFTs being sold on the marketplace in the last 30 days. However, the average price is about half of what it used to be, if not less, meaning you can buy 3 for just about the price that 1 would have cost at the top.

The game is still being played fairly consistently, so it’s definitely not dead. But, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to be making a living playing the game as they could have during 2021. 

STEPN

One of the hottest NFT projects during the last bull run was STEPN, an NFT based game built on Solana (SOL). You purchase pairs of sneakers in the form of NFTs and then simply have the app running as you walk, jog, or run around during your day to day life. There are a variety of sneakers, each with specific uses such as walkers, joggers, and runners. 

Apart from the sneaker and sneaker component/upgrade NFTs, the app also uses two fungible tokens in the form of GMT and GST. GMT is the governance token, while GST is the in-game reward.

At its peak, buying a pair of sneakers on STEPN would cost somewhere around 12 Solana (SOL) to buy, with SOL being about $100 at this time. This means to buy a pair of sneakers previously would have cost over $1,200 USD. 

Even though Solana itself has more than recovered from its lows, STEPN sneaker NFTs have not, as the average price is about 0.2 SOL ($30-40). GMT also topped out at over $4 USD per, but is now about $0.26 a piece.

Much like the other two projects we’ve looked at, STEPN isn’t dead, but it’s not likely to ever be what it once was.

Closing Thoughts

NFTs aren’t dead, but some of the original projects that brought NFT technology into the mainstream limelight aren’t exactly thriving after being on the market for a few years now. It seems like many of these projects are driven by hype with little actual long-term viability for users, as evidenced by the decline in prices of both the NFTs themselves and the various cryptocurrencies associated with them. 

That’s not to say that NFTs have no place in the sector, as they are extremely useful, but their use cases for art and games are less viable than their use as tickets or representations of real world assets. It will be interesting to see what NFT project takes hold next.

Article tags

Beginner
cryptocurrency
nft
Evan Jones

Author

Evan entered the crypto scene in 2017, attracted to the many disruptive possibilities that blockchain could have on current world systems. He has a keen interest in decentralized services, payment processing, and viable NFT use cases such as event ticketing. He spends his days writing with his dog Kobe under his feet, if not on his lap.

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