NFTs Going Mainstream? 🌐

Pudgy Toys in Walmart, Pokémon cards onchain, Xbox wallets, oh my!
Sep 26, 20235 min read

Dear Bankless Nation,

What’s the point of NFTs?

Here, some people answer: mainstream adoption.

But think about it — that’s not an end, that’s a means to an end.

The real point of NFTs is to provide real people with new experiences, better experiences, etc.

Interestingly, then, while chatter of “NFTs are dead” is currently at an ATH, there are breakthroughs into the mainstream happening now that are pointing the way to newer, compelling ways.

For today’s post, let’s get you caught up on a handful of the most notable of these recent mainstream advances!


NFTs at the Mainstream Crossroads 🔥

1) Pudgy Penguins 🤝 Walmart

The Pudgy Penguins team just announced its Pudgy Toys line is now available in 2,000 Walmarts across the United States.

While these plushies and action figures are cute in and of themselves, they aren’t just physical goodies. That’s because each toy comes with a QR code that unlocks digital traits redeemable in Pudgy World, the Pudgy Penguins’ “multiplayer digital social experience” that’s now powered by zkSync.

This IRL-to-NFT onboarding flow here offers an avenue for newcomers to have their first web3 experiences, namely collecting and trading digital traits. On the flip side, each of the Pudgy Toys plushies sold at Walmart is linked to existing NFT IP, ensuring the current associated NFT holders earn licensing royalties.

Notably, these first lines of Pudgy Toys also feature traits from other NFT collections, e.g. Meebits. Additionally, some lucky buyers will find golden tickets with their plushies that will unlock rare traits in Pudgy World.
"Pudgy Penguins is bridging the gap between our physical and digital worlds of play for kids in a really engaging way and their price point is right in line with our goal of providing Every Day Low prices,” Brittany Smith, a Walmart Vice President of Merchandising, said on the news.

2) Crypto and NFTs on Xbox 🎮

In a surprising recent turn of events, Microsoft's tentative plans for its future Xbox systems were inadvertently leaked, revealing a vision that extends beyond traditional gaming.

The info, leaked from a May 2022 slide deck, showed that among other things Microsoft was already ideating on its vision for its next generation gaming console, nicknamed “Gen 10” in the documents.

However, the documents showed Gen 10 was being prepped not just as a console but rather an entire ecosystem suite spanning across a new Xbox, a handheld system, phones, web browsers, and even a “cloud console.”

Of course, for those of us into NFTs, the big intrigue from the leak was how one of the standout features listed for this next-gen platform was support for crypto wallets, suggesting plans by Microsoft to dive deeper into blockchain-based payments and NFT gaming.

To be sure, a lot may have changed since May 2022. Phil Spencer, the current Head of Xbox, noted as much in his public response:

We've seen the conversation around old emails and documents. It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future. We will share the real plans when we are ready.”

Even still, the mere mention of crypto wallet support in the next-gen Xbox platform is significant, as it indicates 1) the Xbox team has been grappling with the prospect of integrating crypto and NFTs, and 2) the Xbox team may still be planning on this integration.

For now, it remains to be seen what happens next. But this sort of embrace of wallet tech would undoubtedly prove huge. I recently wrote out some ideas on how to make a mainstream NFT game, and I posited that focusing on mobile gameplay was probably better right now since there were no NFT-friendly consoles. That may be all about to change though if this Xbox leak is any indication.

3) Cultural RWAs onchain 🎴

In crypto, “RWAs” are real world assets that by one method or another have been brought onchain, i.e. represented digitally on a blockchain.

There’s been a lot of growing interest around RWAs in the cryptoeconomy in recent times as the next great frontier for DeFi collateral.

But could RWAs also be the next great frontier in the NFT space?

Lately it’s increasingly seeming that way as new types of “in real life” or IRL items are finding their way onchain. For instance, Courtyard has created a platform where collectors can purchase packs containing graded Pokémon cards, the physical versions of which are vaulted securely at Brink's.

Each purchase here is represented by an NFT on Polygon, effectively turning the physical cards into digital assets. This token serves as a "redemption receipt," allowing the owner to claim the physical card whenever they choose.

With recent drops selling out fast and rare cards like the PSA Gem Mint 10 Mario Pikachu in play, Courtyard’s an early winner in the RWAs x NFTs sector.

As for digital RWAs being brought onchain, the trading of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) skins on the DMarket platform is a prime example.
Here, players can trade and sell their in-game skins on DMarket, with each transaction being recorded on the blockchain for transparency and security. Conversely the crypto elements have been abstracted away, so many people who have used DMarket haven’t realized they were interacting with a blockchain at all.

All that said, as the lines between the physical and digital worlds continue to blur, platforms like Courtyard and DMarket are poised to play pivotal role in defining the future of collectibles, gaming, and beyond.

Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.

Disclosure. From time-to-time I may add links in this newsletter to products I use. I may receive commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. Additionally, the Bankless writers hold crypto assets. See our investment disclosures here.

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