The creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club are set to generate as much as $300mn worth of crypto in “metaverse” land sales this weekend, in what is expected to be the largest ever non-fungible token launch.
Andreessen Horowitz-backed Yuga Labs plans to sell NFT “deeds” for up to 55,000 plots of virtual land in the Otherside, its forthcoming metaverse game, starting on Saturday.
Each deed, which will give the holder rights to land within a game that has not yet been released or even widely previewed, will cost 305 ApeCoin — the cryptocurrency launched by Yuga and its partners last month — or more than $6,000.
NFTs use blockchain technology to prove ownership of a digital asset and have quickly become a multibillion-dollar market for virtual goods ranging from computer-generated art pieces to cartoon characters costing thousands of dollars.
If the Otherside land sells out, as is widely expected, Yuga and its partners including crypto and gaming conglomerate Animoca Brands, stand to generate sales totalling $335mn, according FT calculations. The estimate assumes the value of ApeCoin — which has been volatile in recent days — remains above $20.
The game will test whether Yuga, which was valued at $4bn in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz last month, can transform its popular but exclusive Bored Ape series of characters into a broader platform for NFTs, pushing the speculative and often high-priced tokens into the mainstream.
The so-called metaverse will allow holders of other popular NFT collections, such as Cool Cats and World of Women, to play as the characters they own within the Otherside, though the details of the gameplay and what landowners can do with their plots are still largely unknown.
Tech companies from Facebook parent Meta to Fortnite developer Epic Games are betting billions that the metaverse — a three-dimensional virtual world — will become the next big computing platform, in what some in Silicon Valley dub “Web3”.
“It feels to me like the success of Web3 games ultimately rides on whatever happens with Otherside,” said Ophelia Brown, founder of Blossom Capital, a venture firm that holds four Bored Apes and around 40,000 ApeCoin.
“It’s probably the most anticipated gaming launch in Web3 and you’ve got the most engaged community [of Bored Ape owners] and the most innovative, creative team behind this,” Brown added. “All the ingredients are there for this to be absolutely massive. If this falls flat, it feels like all of this was just a lot of speculation and hype.”
Billions of dollars’ worth of ApeCoin were distributed to the creators, backers and owners of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in mid-March. Any investor can now buy and trade ApeCoin on crypto exchanges such as Coinbase, FTX and Binance.
Anticipation for the Otherside launch, which was first announced with a teaser video six weeks ago, has seen the price of ApeCoin almost double in over the past week, according to CoinMarketCap.com. It rose from around $14 to a peak of almost $27 on Thursday, before falling back to around $22 on Friday.
As NFT traders raced to liquidate their holdings in other collections in order to load up on ApeCoin, the prices of many other NFT projects have declined.
However, overall NFT trading volumes have recovered this month after falling sharply earlier in the year. The starting price of a Bored Ape is now close to its all-time high at around 150 ETH, or more than $400,000, after originally going on sale for around $250 a year ago.
Several developers of blockchain-based metaverse games, such as Animoca-backed Sandbox and Decentraland, have already sold millions of dollars’ worth of virtual land as NFTs over the past several months, despite having only limited numbers of regular users.
A spokesperson for Yuga declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Cristina Criddle