Three Web3 Trends I Noticed at 2021's Art Basel Miami

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Last week was Art Basel Week in Miami. Just a few years ago, that signaled very little to the web3 community. But with the widespread adoption of NFTs and—more specifically—NFT culture in Miami, NFTs and crypto have become a centerpiece of Art Basel.

12 events and two sleepless nights later, I noticed a few trends that smart people liked to talk about.

  1. Play-to-earn gaming has a noticeably cultish following.
  2. Devs have a craving for cross-chain activity (allowing Solana and Ethereum to communicate)
  3. As more crypto people get rich and powerful, more social impact projects will emerge.

Bullish on play-to-earn gaming

More than any other sector, play-to-earn gaming had the most cheers and greatest buzz. Axie Infinity zealots were everywhere; Axie was even mentioned on panel discussions totally unrelated to gaming.

Not only are gaming communities strong irl, but these companies had the sexiest booths, the cleanest marketing, and the smartest panelists. Coming from someone who didn’t grow up on gaming, I’m big time bullish on play-to-earn.

If you don’t game, but want to explore the financial upside of gaming, there is an abundance of financial opportunity in digital collectibles. Look at projects like Genopets.

You can also invest directly in indexes that include gaming coins on wallet management platforms like Zerion. I’d also recommend joining discords and contributing to cool communities for games you think will grow over time.

Companies reward early adopters for many reasons. It’s not just about who plays the game the most or who’s best at it. Regular contributors on the community front also get rewarded.

Cross-chain interoperability is inevitable

The best devs in the world crave cross-chain interaction. This topic was discussed in detail at an event hosted by Space that focused on the metaverse.

I was excited to learn more about a sector of crypto I’m admittedly skeptical of. Many panelists from platforms like Superworld were concerned about making user experiences in the metaverse more seamless.

How do we bring static web pages to life in 3-D?

One topic, however, that stood out was the developer community’s strong desire for interoperability. Interoperability in this context refers to the ability of blockchains to interact with other networks via portals.

Cross-chain interaction would change everything. The Ethereum zealots, Bitcoin maxis and Solana sailors would be forced to recognize the unique offering of each network as the utility of each becomes less distinct.

My main criticism of platforms like Meta has been their desire to centralize. I equate centralization in the metaverse to protectionism in economics. Why not trade freely? Why not interact with other platforms?

A federated metaverse that connects to other metaverses not only enhances user experience, but it increases its impact on society as a whole.

We are far away from enabling speedy metaverse interactions between unique blockchains. But if you talk to any developer or serious investor in the space, this paradigm shift appears inevitable.

Social impact projects are growing

Carbon removal marketplace Nori attended NFT.BZL and here’s why they compelled me.

There is no clear financial upside for users, but they are growing and many conference attendees were drawn to their commitment to lower the carbon footprint of digital wallets.

Klima DAO makes sense because (in theory) you can make a big financial gain by staking klima. But burning tokens solely for the purpose of reducing the environmental impact of your wallet seems like a much harder sell. But it isn’t holding Nori back.

To be clear, a Nori team member did share plans to provide more financial incentives for users. But the interest to turn NFTs (and crypto) green is certainly growing. Take their crowded booth as anecdotal evidence.

What about social impact beyond climate?

More and more, I’m noticing charity proceeds tied to total NFT sales. I think folks are starting to realize how easy it can be to launch a nft collection, and almost feel guilty for having little-to-no utility beyond community so they look for charities to fill that void.

There are also organizations like Shrimp Society that work with the city of Miami to provide irl benefits to their community via grants, scholarships, and discounts on local businesses.

After the NFT world made out like bandits thru 2021, the next wave of crypto projects will be tied to social impact.

Honorable mention: blockchain infrastructure

The least sexy but one of the most profitable aspects of crypto: infrastructure.

I met some investors behind Akash: the world’s first open-source cloud. You can think of it as the distributed version of AWS. In theory, a decentralized data network would be less vulnerable to crash and more reliable due to its closer proximity..

Akash has spent close to zero on marketing and (from what I was told) their revenue is growing fast.

Other alpha infrastructure plays: validator-as-a-service, governance.

Shout out to an amazing Art Basel Week in Miami. ‘Til next year.

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