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How do NFTs have to evolve to survive beyond the hype?

As NFTs penetrate deeper into the mainstream, including their recent cameos in Super Bowl ads (registration required), they are reaping more and more hype. But beyond the metaverse and Web3 echo chambers, critics still question the usefulness of NFTs to the average person. Dominating headlines and increasingly over-the-top sales figures for what amounts to: pixelated avatars can only get the technology so far before the hype dies out. And once the NFT bubble bursts, only serious projects are left standing.

To weather the storm, legitimate NFT projects will need a serious change in the way they approach average users, especially in industries like gaming and entertainment.

Creating real value

Talking about NFTs in gaming feels like walking on eggshells – every step can be a avalanche of recoil from regular gamers. Developers risk getting caught up in the hype and novelty of integrating NFTs without considering their usefulness within a game’s universe. Selling NFT collectibles in a game where they ultimately make no sense will inevitably backfire from the public who see these collectibles as greed-fueled money grabs.

So developers and companies that create NFT or play-to-earn projects natively end up somewhere in the middle, choosing to either step into a broader gaming market lightly or stick with their niche audience.

For NFTs to penetrate the mainstream gaming arena, developers must run and build NFTs that have usability and meaning in the game’s larger ecosystem. From an RPG character that grows stronger with each adventure, to a weapon that gains new functions through use, non-static NFT assets provide players with renewable novelty and value. Importantly, this value is clear and tangible in the game itself and is obvious even to someone who has no idea what NFTs actually are.

While you might argue that a Bored Ape is more than a pretty Twitter avatar with a cool hexagonal outline, this sermon will likely be lost on the average gamer. However, an element that provides an organic and moving gameplay component is quite different as it helps to create the entire user experience. Made a bigger shift to renewable NFTs value can attract a wider audience skeptical of games to earn, and keep them once the initial novelty of a static NFT dries up.

NFTs that go beyond the use of games

NFTs already have practical applications in gaming, with projects such as Axie Infinity and CryptoKitties at the forefront of this market, but this approach can in fact absolutely apply outside of games. These NFTs have infinite potential as a cornerstone for wider adoption because of the sheer value and practicality they bring to the table. NFTs are more than bragging rights in the chain.

New technological developments do not necessarily have to captivate the public; mainstream adoption often has more to do with convenience and accessibility. Digitizing simple, everyday routines could emphasize the usefulness of NFTs and foster a broader shift in public sentiment about the technology.

A rewards program can be an easy way to make NFTs practical. Just like an RPG character gets stronger with every adventure, an NFT can get stronger with every trip to the grocery store with an ultimate reward. By integrating them into everyday life, instead of an image on a screen, they become alive, accessible and practical.

Another example of experience-based usage is as a subscription service. Imagine a restaurant group or a platform like ClassPass. By offering redeemable NFT passes, users can take weekly reservations or classes, customize subscriptions based on personal taste, or gift them securely.

Developers should not take this wave of interest for granted. Public attention is fickle, and such a large magnifying glass can reveal vulnerabilities that confirm prejudices and assumptions about technological innovations. Encouraging the shift to practical, malleable digital assets can bridge the gap to create sustainable adoption, rather than constantly convincing an average consumer to assign value to something static.

Umberto Canessa Cerchi is founder and CEO of Kryptomon

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