Amid the 2021 non-fungible token (or NFT) market frenzy, the Worldwide Asset eXchange (or WAX) was not involved in the hype.
Ethereum has the multimillion sales that made headlines and much of the trading volume, while Solana and Flow have had big and respective successes in the industry.
But even with all this hype, WAX had modest but remarkable stats.
It has the highest transactional volume of standalone contracts than any other blockchain today, as DappRadar records. around 18 million daily transactions, while big brands such as Funko, Mattel, AMC and Sony Pictures carried out distributions of NFTs on the platform.
Recently, WAX also passed the milestone of 10 million wallet accounts on the platform (now 11 million) and will celebrate it by freely distributing (or “airdropping”) a total of ten million NFT collectibles to these wallets.
It is the largest single distribution of NFTs to date and will be completely free for the first ten million WAX wallet holders.
The free NFTs range from ten different digital pins, which mark a distinct moment in the history of WAX.
From the launch of the mainnet in 2019 to its carbon neutral certification and even its recent partnership with AMC and Sony Pictures to release NFTs of “Spider-Man: No Return Home”, the ten million NFTs collectively evidence the growth of the platform to date.
William Quigley, CEO and co-founder of WAX, told Decrypt that the blockchain wanted to mark the wallet’s milestone with a large-scale distribution that, according to him, would be impossible on other large platforms.
While it represents WAX’s own story, he also wants the distribution to show brands that they can run projects with millions of NFTs using the platform.
“Most people who are familiar with NFTs understand that Ethereum NFTs are slow and very expensive to issue,” he said.
“So we thought, Well, no one has ever tried to do this with ten million NFTs. Maybe we made 2.5 million with Topps MLB baseball cards, but even that pretty much dethroned anything other people on other blockchains have done.”
Quigley said WAX had about 500,000 registered users at the end of 2020, so the 10 million mark represents a 20-fold increase in users over just one year.
The broad NFT market grew dramatically in 2021, skyrocketing from $100 million in traded volume in 2020 to $23 billion in 2021, according to data from DappRadar.
Issuing ten million NFTs on the Ethereum mainnet would be absurdly expensive, he suggested, adding that “the blockchain would have collapsed” on account of its limited transaction processing rate.
He also criticized other adversarial blockchains for their challenges – Solana faced a shutdown in September while the Polygon scaling solution experienced a growth in fees on account of a now-suspended play-to-earn game called Sunflower Farmers.
WAX has several play-to-earn games and other applications on DappRadar’s list of most popular decentralized applications (or dapps) by user count.
Quigley said that while growing demand could test the WAX, the blockchain platform remained online and functional.
“Although it is sometimes very difficult to manage it, we managed it. WAX did not fall,” he said.
“There are blockchains, like Solana and Polygon, where their whole reason for being is that they can scale. AND [Polygon] couldn’t handle a popular play-to-earn game. Only one. And we are dealing with dozens.”
WAX’s future plans
WAX’s growing reputation as a destination for brands (with Reebok, Mattel, Capcom and Atari on its roster) is in part due to the platform’s scalability and low fees capabilities, Quigley said.
But it’s also because of the team’s experience working with brands, including Quigley’s own experience as chief financial officer of Disney’s licensing unit.
“When we talk to brands about managing their intellectual property, we speak in their language,” he said. “We can protect your brands and a lot of things come down to trust.”
In the future, he predicts growing interest in the WAX “Virtual in Real Life” (vIRL) format of NFTs.
Basically, it is a digital twin of NFTs that can be exchanged for a physical version of the product and brands such as Funko and Mattel have already used the technology in their projects.
Quigley says vIRL is ideal for on-demand products like sneakers and streetwear that often pass through retailers, as well as saving some of the cost and alleviating the environmental impact of shipping products between multiple parties before they finally reach the end user.
He also expects there will be more crypto gaming activity on WAX, particularly as the play-to-earn genre evolves and expands into richer and more engaging gameplay experiences.
He understands why major publishers have faced criticism over the release of NFT items in games and suggests that such items have yet to bring significant utility to games.
“Many players don’t like NFTs as they see them as opportunities to make money,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that’s too far off when it comes to big titles. [de videogames].”
In the future, he believes it won’t be the big, traditional video game publishers that will prevail in the play-to-earn sector.
Instead, they will be independent creators who develop games with NFTs at their core and consider what makes the technology beneficial to players and experiences.
Regarding mobile and browser games, he expects rapid and significant evolution in the future.
“Independent game developers that embrace this technology will start to develop games that go from being primitive (they are almost DeFi engines rather than games) to full-fledged video games,” said Quigley.
“Now, it’s really a ‘work-to-earn’ [‘trabalhe para ganhar’], and not much game. But we will get to play-to-earn.”
*Translated and edited by Daniela Pereira do Nascimento with permission from the Decrypt.co.