Today at the Cryptocurrency TechCrunch event in Miami, OpenSea CEO Devin Finzer spoke about his business and the future of the non-fungible token market.
Shares of digital assets, better known by the acronym “NFT”, have surged during the 2021 crypto boom. NFTs have become synonymous with new wealth emerging from the blockchain economy as a number of image collections that used the digital asset format have reached pop culture status and sky-high prices.
However, as reported by TechCrunch, the emerging market for cryptocurrency-related activities and products is currently in decline. NFT trading volumes are down from last year’s levels and chaos reigns elsewhere in the decentralized economy as the collapse of the FTX exchange continues to reverberate.
This made Finzer’s appearance at the event potentially enlightening – in the midst of an economic downturn, where does OpenSea see the future for its core product category?
Naturally, given that he runs a space company, we expected optimism from the technical head. He delivered. However, within his perspective, several key themes emerged that caught our attention. (It’s worth noting that TechCrunch joked about the idea of how it would revive consumer interest in NFTs.)
First, gaming. Finzer objected at the beginning of the conversation with our Anita Ramaswami that the NFT world is “quite diverse” while continuing to state that NFT in games is where its market is experiencing an “explosion of innovation”. The CEO also mentioned gaming as a market opportunity for NFTs to generate more consumer enthusiasm (OpenSea is working to help games and gaming companies create NFTs).
The convergence of games and digital assets has become a popular topic for press coverage and founder activities. However, during the latest crypto boom, a lot of attention has been focused on play-to-earn (P2E) games such as Axie Infinity. But while Axie has seen her fortune rise and fall, OpenSea appears to still be bullish on gaming-related NFTs. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time on games like the Diablo franchise, I can imagine some use cases for the pair, even if I’m still a little skeptical about bringing real economics to most video games.
The scale of Finzer’s interest in NFTs and gaming indicates that this is perhaps where we should be focusing most on what this asset class can do next.
Looking more broadly at the NFT market space itself, Finzer said on stage that it would be positive for platforms like Instagram to join the industry. In his opinion, the inclusion of NFTs from social companies can provide access to the cryptocurrency market for ordinary people. Given that such entry points have historically been criticized as being too cool, new methods of attracting consumers to NFTs are likely welcome on its platform.
The future of NFTs may be less focused on crypto than it used to be. Finzer cited Reddit NFT’s recent efforts in discussing trust, consumers, and cryptocurrencies in general. He explained that many Reddit NFT users are unaware that it is a crypto product. If consumers are willing to interact with crypto products outside of the crypto-native experience, it is easier to see how games and crypto can eventually find common ground.
What’s next for the company? Not a native token, at least not yet, judging by our chat with OpenSea today. The company was also reluctant to talk about a possible fundraiser, although we expect it to raise more capital in 2023.
After listening to the chat, it seemed that the era of expensive avatars faded into the background. Now we need to see if potential use cases for NFTs in other areas of the digital economy – and perhaps even in real life – can move from possibility to reality.