Today at gotechbusiness.com’s crypto-focused event in Miami, OpenSea CEO Devin Finzer discussed his company and the future market for non-fungible tokens.
The digital assets, better known by the acronym “NFT,” saw their stock soar during the crypto boom of 2021. NFTs became synonymous with neo-wealth that bubbled up from the blockchain economy, as a number of image collections representing the digital asset format used, achieved pop culture status and eye-watering prices.
However, as gotechbusiness.com has reported, the developing market for crypto-related activities and products is currently on a downward spiral. NFT trading volumes are low compared to levels a year ago, and chaos can be found elsewhere in the decentralized economy as the implosion of exchange FTX continues to reverberate.
This made Finzer’s appearance at the event potentially illuminating: In the midst of a recession, where does OpenSea see the future for its core product category?
Given that he runs a company in the space, we naturally expected optimism from the tech executive. He delivered. Within his perspective, however, some key themes emerged that caught our attention. (gotechbusiness.com has been discussing the idea of how it’s reviving consumer interest in NFTs, it’s worth noting).
Game first. Finzer argued with ours early in his conversation Anita Ramaswamy that the world of NFTs is “quite diverse”, then states that NFTs in games are a place where his market is seeing an “explosion in innovation”. The CEO also mentioned gaming as a market opportunity for NFTs to generate more consumer enthusiasm (OpenSea is busy assisting games and game companies store NFTs).
The combination of gaming and digital assets has proven to be a popular theme for press coverage and founder activities. However, much of the focus during the last crypto boom has been on play-to-earn (P2E) games like Axie Infinity. But while Axie has seen its fortunes rise and fall, OpenSea still seems optimistic about gaming-related NFTs. As a person who has spent a reasonable amount of time on games like the Diablo franchise, I can envision certain use cases for the pairing, even though I remain a bit skeptical about bringing real-world economics into most video games.
The magnitude of Finzer’s excitement about NFTs and gaming indicates to this publication that perhaps this is what we should focus on most as we discuss what the asset variety can do next.
Looking more broadly at the NFT market space itself, Finzer argued on stage that platforms like Instagram entering the industry will be net positive. In his view, the inclusion of NFTs from social companies can be a stepping stone to the crypto market for ordinary people. Given that such entry points have historically been criticized as too steep, new methods of getting consumers to NFTs are likely to be welcome on its platform.
The future of NFTs may be less cryptocurrency-focused than before. Finzer cited Reddit’s recent NFT efforts in a discussion about trust, consumers, and crypto in general. Many Reddit NFT users are unaware that it is a crypto-powered product, he explained. If consumers are willing to interact with crypto products outside of a crypto-native experience, it’s easier to see how gaming and crypto can eventually find common ground.
What awaits the company? Not a native token, at least not yet, according to our chat with OpenSea today. The company also declined to talk about potential fundraising, though we expect it to raise more capital in 2023.
After listening to the chat, it felt like the era of expensive profile pictures had faded into the background. Now we need to see if the potential use cases for NFTs in other areas of the digital economy – and maybe even IRL – can make the leap from possibility to reality.