Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are reaching deeper into the mainstream, garnering more and more hype as they do so. But for those of us sitting outside the echo chambers of Web3 and the metaverse, there’s a lot of questioning over the exact purpose of NFTs and what benefits they provide.
Scepticism around NFTs is understandable, given that most regular folks have only ever been exposed to a stream of headlines about the sky-high prices they have fetched. People are paying multi-million dollar amounts to acquire what appear to be pixelated avatars with no perceived utility. If the ownership of digital art is the only advantage NFTs provide, then surely the buzz around the technology is only hype that will eventually fizzle out.
The answer to these questions is that there’s a lot more to NFTs than meets the eye. The digital assets are incredibly being implemented for all kinds of use cases. There are NFTs that provide their owners with exclusive access to metaverse-based events, others are used to enable gamers to play video games where they can earn cryptocurrency rewards, and yet more that provide holders with the rights to rent a car.
One of the great things about NFTs is their ability to ensure that original creators can earn royalties for their work. Because NFTs are programmed with smart contracts, a digital token that represents an image, content, song or something else, will automatically pay royalty fees to the wallet of its creator, each time it’s sold.
This is one of the concepts being leveraged by the creator of an NFT-based comic book series. Macroverse is the Web3 entertainment studio behind the Darkland comic series, which was written by Evan Shapiro and is hosted as an NFT on the Macroverse platform. According to Shapiro, it’s a story set in Hell that’s populated by characters like Satan, the Seven Princes of Hell and the Archangels, but the experience of reading it is likely to be heaven for Web3 fanatics.
As an NFT-based comic book series, Darkland offers a multi-page reading experience across devices, enabling creators the chance to launch their own books on the Macroverse platform. It’s a digital collectible comic book series sold as NFTs, which function as “source files” for a mobile subscription app. So NFT owners will be able to stake their NFT editions of Darkland and make them available for subscribers to read. Both the author and the NFT owner receive royalties, and as the series’ profile grows, so too will its readership and the value of those NFTs.
A similar idea, albeit one with more of a community focus, is being pursued by Strider DAO, which is creating a Web3 platform that allows content creators to utilize decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, to spread the word about their projects and increase membership.
Strider claims to be a kind of decentralized version of the crowdfunding model, one that leverages blockchain technologies to enable more inclusive and diverse creation of content that provides greater value to both creators and their fans. Strider’s platform gives users an easy way to create a DAO, and from there they can create NFT-based content with contributor payouts, creative bounties, a programmable treasury, voting mechanisms, proposal submissions and more. Fans of the project need to acquire tokens to become a member of the DAO, providing it with the funds it needs to take its ideas forward.
An even more novel take on this idea comes from The Quest of Evolution, which has pioneered a unique “write-to-earn” model for storytellers that’s based on NFTs. The concept is one of “collaborative storytelling”, in which each NFT represents an unfinished novel. By acquiring one of its NFTs, creators unlock the ability to add words to the ongoing novel. Basically, they are tasked with writing the next chapter of the story. The community aspect is enhanced as the NFTs provide access to an exclusive Discord channel for each specific novel, where writers can discuss their ideas with other contributors.
Once the NFT holder finishes his or her contribution, the updated token can then be sold to someone else. And this is the clever part, for the proceeds of the NFT sale are then distributed among all previous holders, meaning they earn royalties as the story progresses.
The Quest of Evolution explains that it’s motivated to evolve NFT storytelling as an alternative to the “rigid and centralized” existing paradigms for collaboration among creatives. It provides creators with royalties and ownership rights previously impossible with Web2 technologies.
In some ways, the Quest of Evolution’s concept mirrors the story of NFTs thus far. It’s a tale told by multiple authors, evolving into an epic saga as more ideas for utility are imagined and implemented. We’ve already moved far beyond the original concept of NFTs as digital avatars, yet the story has only just begun.