The NFT Price Game

NFTs today have a lot of use cases including artwork, photographs, virtual worlds, domain names, etc. but digital collectibles form a vast majority of the universe of NFTs. For those unknown to Bored Ape Yacht Club, Cryptopunks, Vox collectibles — all of these are rare collections existing in quantities of a few thousand in the form of generative art made with the help of code. Some of these have sold for millions and have helped fill up the pockets of NFT investors.

Today, a lot of collectibles projects have emerged and all of them follow a similar approach to bring their NFT collections to the market. They start off by creating a Discord community and adding members via Instagram & Twitter DMs, referrals, etc. They then put the NFTs for sale on their website. Buyers can mint the NFT and own it in their Metamask wallets. Let’s call this primary sale. Next, buyers list their NFTs on OpenSea, where others can purchase the NFT off of them (secondary sale). In my recent experience of purchasing NFTs and tracking 10+ of these project discord channels, I’ve observed a pattern in how prices of these collections change across the initial days of a project.

The initial 2 weeks of a project, from the launch of the NFT for sale, can be categorized into 5 phases during which prices of NFTs, both the minting price for primary sales and the OpenSea floor price for secondary sales, change in a set pattern.

Phase 1: NFT Pre-sales

NFTs are put on sale for the first time only for specific loyal members of the project discord server, referred to as “Whitelisted Members”, who have actively promoted the project across various platforms (primarily Instagram and Twitter) and have helped increase the community on Discord via referrals.

The phase usually lasts for 24–48 hours. The minting price of NFT here (say 0.07 ETH) is less than the official public release mint price (say 0.09 ETH).

Phase 2: Public Mint Release

Sales of NFTs are now open to the general public. This phase usually lasts for 3 to 5 days during which the project has a set target of sales (say 10,000). The minting price of NFTs is at a set price (0.09 ETH). Marketing initiatives are at a maximum at this stage, where whitelisted members are rewarded with cash prizes for every conversion they contribute in.

At the same time, users who minted during the pre-sales and public mint release, start listing their NFTs on OpenSea for sales, in order to make a quick buck. Prices are generally ~10% more than the public mint price.

Phase 3: Discounted Minting and Sweeping

When projects observe that they are facing difficulty in reaching their set sales target (10,000 NFTs in this case), they adopt desperate measures. They start providing bulk buying discounts (such as Buy One NFT Get X NFT free), reducing the per NFT minting price even below the pre-sales mint price (say 0.04 ETH per NFT). These measures significantly accelerate and drive sales of the unminted NFTs and help projects achieve a realistic target.

However, in the meantime, another price war starts on OpenSea. HODLers, who include the project community & loyal project members, and want to see the project achieve sky-high floor prices to make the project a success, now face a threat from the early listers who have listed their NFTs at a low price (~10% greater than the mint price of 0.09 ETH in this case) in order to make a quick buck.

To drive floor prices higher, the project urges its loyal community to purchase the floor NFTs listed on OpenSea (say those NFTs that are listed below a price of 0.2 ETH, so that floor price reaches at least double of the mint price). This is called “Sweeping” and helps drive the floor price higher and reach a number (say 0.18 ETH) slightly less than the target floor price.

Phase 4: NFT Reveal

The minting period is over. Now comes the day when the art behind each minted NFT is revealed. What follows is the most chaotic phase which makes a small fraction of NFT owners really happy and the remaining majority really sad. Along with the reveal, each NFT is randomly assigned a rarity ranking based on the unique features present in the artwork (unique items borne by the NFT, background color, etc.), which owners can check on a universal portal called Rarity Sniper.

For NFTs with rarity rankings under the top 20% (2000 in this case), owners start listing their NFTs at higher prices (say above 0.5 ETH). For those NFTs with rarity rankings beyond 2000, owners start listing their NFTs at significantly low prices (say 0.10–0.14 ETH), usually slightly above the public mint price, amidst a panic of losing money in the future due to their NFTs being less rare.

This leads to a significant dip in the floor price, which was initially up due to the sweeping in the previous phase, and now back down near to public mint price.

Phase 5: Sweeping the floor

To drive up floor prices, the project community creates another campaign to “Sweep the Floor’’ and promote members to purchase the low-listed NFTs on OpenSea in order to drive the floor price up. The period usually lasts a long time, ranging from about a week to even a month. If successfully done, this helps drive the floor price back up to the maximum price they achieved in the 3rd phase (approx 0.2 ETH in this case)

Beyond:

The price graph can take any direction from here depending on the steps taken by the project community. If they are able to successfully sweep the floor, maintain the hype and create additional utilities around the NFT, such as implementation in the metaverse or merchandising of the project, the prices will increase and help make the project a success. If the community slacks off and the project dies down, the floor price would gradually decline.

Key Takeaway:

While investing in an NFT, the community is the most important parameter investors should consider. To evaluate the credibility of a community associated with an NFT project, investors should look for the following early indicators:

  1. Strength of the community (large number of members)
  2. Composition of the community (more HODLers than short-term traders)
  3. Future vision of founders (founders aim for long-term integration with the metaverse and establish merchandise of the project)
  4. Marketing muscle (significant IG and Twitter referral marketing; strong offline marketing in the form of billboards)

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