Building the Virtual Economy: NFT Projects that are Here to Stay by@danstein

Building the Virtual Economy: NFT Projects that are Here to Stay

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Dan Stein

Editor at the Startup Thread

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Digital assets sure had a dream run in 2021. The crypto market won big, briefly even touching $3 trillion in market cap. The prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a number of other tokens reached new all-time highs and the number of users soared. But, along with cryptocurrencies, the year was particularly good for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). 

Users have poured in over $41 billion for the ownership of digital collectibles last year and now the NFT market is neck-to-neck in competition with the global art market worth $50 billion. Standalone pieces of art and memes by individual creators opened the scene for NFTs in early 2021. However, NFT projects swept over the market by the end of the year and contributed to the big surge in NFT sales. These projects cemented the place of NFTs in the virtual economy and expanded their possibilities. From the swoon-worthy apes and toads to the futuristic entertainment NFTs, here are the projects that sealed the deal for NFTs so far.

Exploring the Various Possibilities of NFTs

Crypto Punks

Created in 2017, Crypto Punks is one of the first NFT projects to emerge from the DeFi industry and it sure inspired the NFT frenzy that followed soon after. It was pivotal to the creation of the NFT standard itself. The project consists of a collection of 10,000 computer-generated characters that feature a human, alien, ape, and zombie. No two characters are alike and each character can uniquely be owned by only one person. 

As the first-generation NFT project, Crypto Punks has garnered significant attention from the crypto community. So much so that Crypto Punk #3100 and #4156 were sold for over $7.58 million and $10.26 million each. 

Bored Ape Yacht Club

Snoop Dogg, Steph Curry, Jimmy Fallon, Mark Cuban, Post Malone, and now Eminem. These celebrities have one thing in common — they all own the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. 

BAYC is an interesting profile picture (PFP) NFT project that launched in April 2021. Just like the Crypto Punks, BAYC is also a collection of 10,000 unique computer-generated apes hosted on the Ethereum blockchain. All of the apes have distinguishable characteristics in the form of facial expressions, accessories, and fur color. These NFTs have quite the spirited look to them that struck a chord with the masses and led to the explosion of the project. 

The holders of these NFTs automatically become members of the Yacht Club that comes with exclusive private concerts and other interesting benefits. 


Created by an anonymous pixel artist Gremplin, CrypToadz is an NFT collection of pixelated toads. This project is famous for its creative commons, no right reserved license which opened up a world of possibilities for it. Creators and developers from across the world were free to integrate the toads into their online games, art, and other creations. This idea attracted the interest of the market, and the project became one of the most successful ones to launch in 2021. 


Getting into gaming territory, Decentraland is an ambitious NFT-Metaverse project that launched in 2020. It is a decentralized virtual world that is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain where users can own virtual lands, create a digital avatar for themselves, and trade in-game resources. All the resources inside this metaverse are NFTs that users can buy, sell, trade, and rent to rake in profits. This project became so popular among users that a few plots of lands in the Decentraland universe were sold for as much as $2.4 million in 2021. 

Pudgy Penguins

Pudgy Penguins is yet another NFT project that has garnered significant attention from the market. With 8888 collectible penguins auto-generated from 150 unique traits, this project mainly catered to the female demographic bringing them into the NFT revolution. The project is housed on the Ethereum blockchain and has over 4400 unique owners. The main collection was followed by a Lil Penguins collection of 22,000 NFTs of which over 18,000 have been sold already. Pudgy Penguins was featured in New York Times, CNBC, and Bloomberg as one of the promising NFT projects of 2021. 

Mogul Productions

Apart from gaming, memes, and art, NFTs have also made their way into the entertainment industry, and here Mogul Productions reigns supreme. Mogul Productions is a decentralized film financing platform and NFT marketplace that aims to democratize the entertainment industry. 

By partnering with entertainment professionals around the world, the platform aims to create NFTs that their fans would love to hold. It gives the fans a sense of uniquely owning a piece of their favorite celebrity’s work. 

In this regard, Mogul Productions recently announced its Mogies collection in collaboration with the animators of the Simpsons. This collection is the world’s first character-driven NFT series and pays homage to 100 years of the Hollywood sign.

A Hopeful Future for NFTs

With new use-cases for NFTs being explored every day, they are poised to grow exponentially in value and demand in the years to come. To meet this ever-growing market demand, the crypto industry has come up with some spectacular NFT projects over the years. Even in 2022, there are a plethora of new NFT and metaverse projects scheduled to be launched. Given that 2021 was the most successful year for NFTs so far, it will be interesting to see what the new year has in store for the NFT market and how it fits in the grand scheme of things.  

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