NFT Trends to Expect in 2022

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone’s editors or publishers.

2021, for many reasons, has been a year for books. It’s almost impossible not to feel like you’re living in a complex time loop. GameStop is still trading nearly 10x higher than at the peak of the year, with little change in the company’s fundamental outlook. Former President Donald Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter, demonstrating the effective control claimed by centralized mega-corporations. To top it off, the world finally understood how Britney Spears got her life back. And while neither of us had any of these events planned, two things, in particular, remain a priority for me as we head into the new year:

1. Covid-19 and its variants continue to be elusive (much like Psycho Mantis in Solid metal gear);

2. Blockchain and cryptocurrency continue to change the way we interact with each other.

Tokenize everything?

While the merits of blockchain technology are still being vindicated, crypto has really come into its own in 2021 thanks to bitcoin hitting an all-time high. Tesla flirted with bitcoin, adding large positions to its balance sheet, to send mixed signals once climate concerns were raised. As other big companies consider accepting crypto as payment, we see how slowly digital assets are being validated. For the first time in its existence, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies were finally introduced to an audience of discovery by trustworthy faces.

Soon after, images ranging from digital cats to LeBron James flagship reels saturated our timelines, inciting a new wave of crypto hype. The difference noted this time was the inconceivable fortunes spent. We were fed an almost endless stream of headlines telling us about these items selling for almost immeasurable fortunes, each breaking the previous record. But it left many wondering: what’s the problem anyway? Why can’t you just right-click and “save image”?

Alas, we finally got to the part where we are talking about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). For context, 2018 only saw $41 million in NFT sales while the first half of 2021 alone saw an incredible increase to $2.5 billion in volume.

We saw a number of awesome pieces hitting the market in 2021, some of which really changed the way we thought this technology could not only be used, but also how it could bring communities together. For example, the sense of belonging and status that has been built around the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunk movements is truly unfathomable. While we’ve seen a number of celebrities launch their own collections, there have been a few brands that have put together some jaw-dropping deals. One of my favorites is Pixar’s Timeless Collection where fans can purchase NFTs featuring golden statues of iconic characters from Disney’s catalog. Fans will not only have the opportunity to purchase the parts of the characters they admire the most, but they can also try their luck at stumbling across verifiable rarity parts through “Blind Box” offers.

What to expect in 2022

Based on my experience in this space, here are the top trends I expect to see take shape in 2022.

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Increased NFT utility

Utility is starting to take shape in the industry, especially in terms of enriching diverse experiences, whether it’s fan engagements for collectors or exclusive access to events, under ownership of these digital assets.

For example, in September 2021, we saw Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott post a collection of NFTs where buyers could unlock items such as autographed cleats or game jerseys. Intertwining the physical and digital worlds of In this way, NFTs are becoming increasingly relevant to audiences that reside outside of hardcore early adopters. Essentially, by making the art more than the digital rendering itself, we’re just beginning to figure out what the possible use cases for this technology might be.

We have also seen more virtuous applications of NFTs. Namely, Deepak Chopra recently launched Seva.Love, an altruistic NFT platform. Through wearable digital collectibles, Chopra aims to equip artists, philanthropists and brands with the tools to build communities around important causes. Social benevolence and inclusion are the underlying philosophy of blockchain, and despite some teething problems related to environmental effects and cybercrime, I see a bright future in projects committed to doing good.

Tight posture around crypto

As attention to crypto projects has continued to grow over the past year, I imagine we are seeing an increase in the scrutiny of different coins hitting the market. With the rise in the number of projects seeking to benefit from the relatively standard anonymity that exists in the space, I expect investors to take a more disciplined approach when evaluating the merits of any potential investment.

Most notably, an unknown group of people were able to defraud millions of investors through the popular K-drama, squid game. As such, 2021 has seen a regulatory sword of Damocles hanging over the crypto markets, leaving the legal framework open as we continue into 2022. I would like to see stronger leadership from financial regulators, for the current approach has been disharmonious at best.

Metaverse Consolidation

Along with teaching us all the benefits of what could be an even more connected world, I think we’ll start to see some metaverse projects separate themselves from the rest of the pack. In what could be a saturated market, we’ll see investors, creators, and general users begin to gravitate towards the metaverses with the most traction. There are only so many instances where digital investors will turn a blind eye to investments that never quite materialized due to insufficient growth in the wider ecosystem. Likewise, groupthink isn’t just a disease that lives in Web 2.0. People want to be where others are. So I imagine that the metaverses capable of building the largest communities will be those that survive the inevitable consolidation.

Overall, given the explosive growth that NFTs have seen in 2021, I expect we can bank on the market continuing to grow at exponential rates.

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