While the crypto community is waiting to see how long the bear market lasts, there’s no question that the crypto industry is full of potential. From DeFi to GameFi, the space has many applications that are likely to change the way things work over the coming decade.
One such area is Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which have opened up new opportunities for creators to monetize their work in the form of digital collectibles, artwork, music, and more. They also offer buyers assurance that they are purchasing a genuine product while allowing ownership to be tracked securely without any risk of duplication or fraud.
With this in mind, learning about the best NFT projects is vital to identify the shrewdest investments, and here are the top picks for unbelievable returns in 2023.
- Metacade (MCADE)
- ApeCoin (APE)
- Axie Infinity (AXS)
- The Sandbox (SAND)
- Decentraland (MANA)
- EnjinCoin (ENJ)
- Quant Network (QNT)
Metacade is an ambitious new project that seeks to utilize blockchain technology to create the largest play-to-earn (P2E) virtual video arcade in the metaverse. It will be a hub for gamers to connect with other gaming enthusiasts, earn money from playing P2E titles, and contribute to the Web3 gaming revolution.
Alongside the core experience of P2E gaming, users can also gain passive income through several other methods, such as being rewarded for contributing and interacting with the community (such as writing game reviews or participating in live chats).
The project is powered by its utility and governance token, MCADE, which is used throughout the platform. The token can also be staked in order to earn its holders a passive income while benefiting the community. With staking rewards paid out in stablecoins to keep the circulating supply from increasing, steps are clearly being taken to keep the token value stable.
The Metagrants program is one of Metacade’s highlights. Game developers are able to pitch their projects to the Metacade community, with MCADE holders voting to determine which projects receive funding. This gives MCADE holders a great deal of control in the priorities of the games being integrated and starts in Q3 2023, with the first title released in Q1 2024.
While Metacade has yet to reveal the role of NFTs in the project explicitly, the project’s aspirations to become the metaverse’s largest arcade means that investors can expect there to be NFT integrations as the project develops. Alongside Metacade’s high GameFi potential, it means that many seasoned investors see Metacade as an early-stage contender for one of the best NFT projects which could yield astronomical returns.
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2. ApeCoin – A novel approach partnered with BAYC
ApeCoin is the native cryptocurrency of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) ecosystem, a growing network of NFTs and similar projects. Launched in March 2022, APE has a wide range of uses, including decentralized governance, acting effectively as a currency within the ecosystem for purchases, gaming, and access to exclusive events.
The APE token also fuels the APE DAO (a decentralized autonomous organization), which enables APE holders to vote on decisions relating to the protocol within the ecosystem, and the project encourages other projects to integrate, such as Web3 games or collections of NFTs in order to help drive adoption and benefit from both the fame of the project and its network effects.
The APE Foundation provides leadership while the project remains in its early stages by handling DAO processes that aren’t quite ready for online or on-chain. With its growing success since 2021 and support from Yuga Labs — who not only developed BAYC, but also acquired the rights to both CryptoPunks and Meebits popular NFT collections — ApeCoin is certainly a big name in the NFT category.
Whether ApeCoin is a good investment is tricky, though. It’s not yet clear whether NFT collections like BAYC will be able to hold their value, and if they drop significantly, that’s likely also to impact the price of APE. That said, APE may continue to grow if it is able to face the difficult challenge of growing adoption for its platform outside of the flagship NFT collections.
3. Axie Infinity – can it regain momentum?
Axie Infinity, created by Sky Mavis, is a gaming metaverse that uses Web3 technology to allow players to collect and breed their own digital pets, which are called Axies. Axies are themselves NFTs, making each pet a one-of-a-kind digital asset that also has its own unique traits. The game offers play-to-earn opportunities, enabling users to earn income from the metaverse.
To participate in the game, Axies can be purchased from the Axie Infinity Marketplace, with the game consisting of four primary features: battles with other owners, breeding, land, and the Axie Infinity marketplace. In battle mode, players use their Axies to compete in turn-based card games, with each side made up of a group of three Axies. Breeding enables players to create children that can be sold or deployed in battle for a fee. The home of the Axies is known as Lunacia, which has been divided into 90,601 individual plots of land. Each plot is an NFT that can be enhanced with items available on the marketplace.
The Axie Infinity token is AXS and is intended to reward users for their participation in the ecosystem, but another key element of the potential for price rises is the ongoing adoption of the platform. Following a strong run in 2021, the project’s growth has now slowed, and it remains to be seen whether it can attract enough new users to be able to drive the price increases holders are hoping for.
4. The Sandbox – Giving users ownership of their creations
The Sandbox is a metaverse and gaming ecosystem, built on the Ethereum blockchain, that enables users to create, share and monetize their own in-world assets. Created by Pixowl, it takes on the traditional gaming market where platforms own and control content generated by users, by allowing creators to have complete ownership over the content they create in-game.
The Sandbox consists of VoxEdit for creating 3D objects (ASSETS) using a token standard known as ERC-1155, the Sandbox Marketplace for publishing and selling ASSETS on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), and the Sandbox Game Maker for creating 3D games.
Transactions are powered by SAND tokens and like many of the best NFT projects, users can generate revenue, by selling NFTs on the Marketplace or creating games with the Game Maker while players can earn rewards from other users’ games or rent out their LAND plots. The Sandbox is trying to pioneer a big change in gaming, where creators are rewarded for their value generation to platform owners.
5. Decentraland – fully decentralized land parcel NFTs
Decentraland is another virtual world built on Ethereum, and is owned and governed by its users, with three native tokens: MANA, LAND and Estate. The tokens are used to access activities such as visiting the Crypto Valley Art Gallery to buy art, trading in Bartertown with other users, or learning at Decentraland University. MANA serves as Decentraland’s currency, while LAND and Estate are NFTs representing small pieces of digital land.
Decentraland offers a unique metaverse experience where users can own the value they create in the virtual world and transfer it directly into tangible assets. Through its design of having the project be decentralized, Decentraland has created a metaverse with a new approach, that allows users to explore a variety of digital places developed by the community, from an astrology center to car races, and even allows users to become digital landlords.
The ownership and governance structure of Decentraland is decentralized through a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization), which requires users to hold wrapped MANA, LAND, or Estate tokens in order to have voting rights for proposed changes that could be made to the protocol, giving further value to the token.
Like Axie Infinity, the biggest problem faced by Decentraland is the lack of momentum. Peaking back in 2021, the project has not yet been able to restore the hype that it once was generating, and the MANA token has seen its price plummet as a result. If it can win back users and build interest again, it could certainly be one to watch.
6. EnjinCoin – NFTs as a service
Enjin is a blockchain platform that enables its users to create and manage their own NFTs without coding. Enjin offers a range of tools, including the Enjin Marketplace, where over 2 billion tokens have been launched, most of which are NFTs usable in projects focused on virtual gaming.
By utilizing Enjin’s tools for creating blockchain assets without coding, businesses can unlock new promotional options for customers while developers have access to implementing digital assets hosted on the blockchain into their projects with ease. Enjin provides an open platform for anyone looking to experiment with new technology, which may open the door to many different future use cases.
The big challenge for Enjin looks to be whether or not it can establish itself as the go-to place for NFT creation and whether ENJ can rise much further than it has already managed. After a big drop following the 2021 highs, it’s unclear how long it will take to start climbing upward again.
7. Quant Network – Well-positioned for enterprise NFTs
Quant Network isn’t often talked about alongside the more famous NFT projects, but progress has been steady for the London-based startup. Targeting enterprise payments and CBDCs using their Overledger interoperability platform, they have more recently entered the world of NFTs by releasing Overledger Tokenize.
One of the areas where NFTs may have a significant benefit is the world of fractional investing, and Quant Network is hoping to gain adoption from the big established financial players. If they’re able to do so, it could unlock a huge market that keeps it under consideration for one of the best NFT projects, but with the project keeping practically everything under wraps, it’s a risky investment compared to many other projects.
It’s clear that most NFT projects currently on the crypto scene look set to face a challenge to regain momentum, following a difficult year that set back expectations across the board. Without some extra utility built into projects, they seem unlikely to overcome the downward pressure caused by the market sentiment.
Platforms that are driven by utility offer a much firmer footing, and with Metacade presenting its community-driven P2E gaming hub, alongside a diverse ecosystem with opportunities for NFTs connectivity in the future, the virtual arcade looks increasingly likely to drive substantial gains.
You can participate in the Metacade presale here.
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