The 3 Mainstream NFT Business Models, Fad, Hype and Trend

NFT busines model

It’s said that we have reached the NFT moment and we are all going through the first wave bear market of NFTs. The hype on NFTs was indeed undeniable. 2021 and early 2022 witnessed many successful NFT projects with the outstanding NFT business model, high volume sales and a grand sum of revenue garnered.

In today’s article, DarePlay would like to take time and make a deep dive into the very unique sense of NFTs and dissect different NFT business models.

A Brief History of NFT

NFT is an abbreviation for Non-fungible token.

Non-fungible tokens, as compared to fungible tokens like common cryptocurrency such as Bitcoins or Ethers, have characteristics that make them unique and therefore not replaceable with one another.

Read more about NFT in this article.

NFT development timeline

NFT development timeline
NFT development timeline
  • With the Ethereum blockchain gaining popularity in early 2017, memes (a content that quickly becomes viral) started to be exchanged there as well.
  • As of March of 2017, a project called “Peperium” was announced to be “decentralized meme marketplace and trading card game (TCG) that allowed anyone to create memes that live eternally on IPFS and Ethereum.” – according to
  • Peperium released a governance token, with the ticker symbol of RARE. This token was used for meme creation and paying listing fees.
  • As the trading of RARE pipes on Ethereum picked up, two “creative technologists”, namedly: John Watkinson and Matt Hall, decided to create their own NFT project with a slight twist.
  • Matt Hall and John Watkinson discovered they could produce distinctive characters on the Ethereum network. There would be a 10,000 characters maximum and no two characters would be the same. As a nod to the Cypherpunks who experimented with Bitcoin in the 1990s, they chose the name Cryptopunks for their project.
  • Watkinson and Hall also decided to offer free Cryptopunks to those who had an Ethereum wallet at the time of releasing.
  • All 10,000 Cryptopunks were quickly claimed, and a bustling secondary market for Cryptopunks exchange soon followed.
  • As of early April 2021, over 8,000 sales had been recorded. Of which the average sale price is 15.45 ether ($30,412.40). The total value of all sales is 127,360 ether ($251,620,000) and that value is accrued in the matter of one day.

CryptoKitties and the NFT craze

Cryptokitties and NFT craze
Cryptokitties and NFT craze
  • October 2017 marks the release of a hit NFT game called CryptoKitties. CryptoKitties is a blockchain-based virtual game that allows players to adopt, raise, and trade virtual cats for profit.
  • The hype of CryptoKitties coincided with the 2017 crypto bull market and that’s the real perk. Some CryptoKitties, virtual cats, were selling for a recording high price with over $100,000.

People were starting to pay more attention to the potential of non-fungible tokens.

  • Axiom Zen, an idea catalyst, a Canadian based venture studio which backed the invention of CryptoKitties, then established a company called Dapper Labs to specialize in deploying blockchain technology and bring this revolutionary technology to life.
  • Dapper Labs’ mission is to “make blockchain products for real people”. This company has secured 15 million dollars in funding from top investors including a16z and Google Ventures since its early days. In September 2021, Dapper Labs successfully closed a $250 million funding round and is said to reach a $7.6B valuation.

After witnessing the spike in the price of the CryptoKitties and seeing top investors pour their money into NFT oriented companies like Dapper Labs, people started to draw their attention and realize the potential power of NFTs.

Many NFT platform business models have been explored, developed and thrived up till now.

What is an NFT business model?

NFT business model definition
NFT business model definition

Where value goes, dollars flow.
― Richie Norton

NFTs are becoming more and more popular and the value of NFTs is being recognized widely nowadays.

It’s undeniable that NFTs have attracted a flow of income, bringing in revenue for NFT creators and owners alike.

NFT business model is simply any business which involves NFTs as a line of products and services.

An anonymous creator, an artist or almost anyone could start to form an NFT business model for themselves.

Those who have more resources and business experience may jump in the battlefield earlier and take the right spot before someone else could spot the potential.

The mainstream NFT Business Model


Collectables NFT
Collectables NFT is the NFT art type

Collectables is a basic form of an NFT business model. This model is often related to digital art. However, several types of creative works can also be classified as collectible NFTs such as digital music, sports highlights, land, fashion, and other intellectual property, including patents as well.


Community Based NFT business model
Nouns Community

The idea of an NFT business model based on community is closely linked to the concept of DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).
Token-gated community or NFT gated community is the key to build up this business model of NFT.

Traditionally, when we join a community which requires us to pay for the subscription fee, we have to pay the fee again and again after the expiration date. However, with an NFT serving as a membership card, we could forever get access to our desired community and reap the benefits. It’s a one time payment for a lifetime membership. Members will enjoy the services without the nuisance of repetitive payment.

Of course, to further develop this type of NFT business model, creative minds are required. The developers have to find ways to engage their community, designing an economy where NFTs are governed and cryptocurrency are circulated along. All of these are to generate a complete cycle for DAO.

Bored Ape community Based NFT
Bored Ape Community

A typical example for this NFT art business model is the way Yuga Labs uses up their NFT collection of Bored Ape.

The Bored Apes NFT collection is the symbol of an elite movement called the Bored Apes Yacht Club.

Owning a Bored Ape grants owners Yacht Club membership cards and access to members-only benefits.

The first of which is THE BATHROOM that is a community drawing board where Bored Ape owners can mark their own digital graffiti on.

Bored Ape ownership also comes with access to a private Discord server where the Bored Ape owners can hang out and chat with others.

A biggest threat to this NFT business model is how to encourage users to co-generate the system or community. What could be the incentives to trigger users to collaborate with each other and interact with each other in the same community for a common good.

​​For BAYC, Yuga Labs delved deep into the plan that is to combine the collectible-art component of NFTs with community membership. They are essentially giving the priority of NFT ownership and creating new utilities beyond just being cult symbols of crypto cool kids for each Bored Ape NFT.

To fully form the business based on a community or DAO model, it might take a pretty long time to go from now. According to the statistics from Gartner Hype Cycle for Blockchain and Web3, 2022, it will take around 5 or 10 years for DAO to reach the plateau

Crypto Gartner hype cycle
Crypto Gartner hype cycle


NFTs and blockchain technology, in general, propose to remove the intermediaries, simplify and validate transactions, therefore possibly create new markets which are more decentralized than ever before.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are basically data stored in blockchain digital ledger where no one can interfere to make a change individually. For this characteristic, NFTs can be used as a certificate of collective experiences that people have gone through.

NFTs have already been experimented as educational certificates.Typically, the university of Georgia’s New Media Institute now offer their students degrees as NFTs, but also keep the option of a paper certificate for those who prefer the conventional way.

Another example of this experience-based NFT business model is the Flyfish Club (FFC). The FlyFish club is the world’s first member’s only private dining club where a Non-Fungible-Token NFT is used as a membership card to purchase dishes available on the blockchain.

Many other potentials of NFTs could be unlocked in the near future. Imagining that one day, traveling tiket are paid by NFTs, all types of membership being granted access via a certain NFT ownership, public services and so on to be linked to NFTs. That would all be called experience-based NFT business models, a business model of the future.

Play-to-Earn NFT business model

Play to earn NFT business model
Play to earn NFT game business model

Over the past 2 years, we have witnessed a mighty wave of NFT adoption in the field of gaming industry. NFTs, in other words, are coming closer to most people via the NFT gaming revolution, best known as the Play-to-Earn movement.

NFTs can be sold, transferred to other third parties on almost any NFT marketplaces for profit after being used in any games.

Gaming enthusiasts have gone rush for this arena to make their passive income and inadvertently become key contributors to the NFT gaming revolution.

This Play-to-Earn trend has coined a new NFT business model which is based on the Play-to-Earn in-game economic mechanism.

The NFT games business model sounds pretty easy, but proved to be challenging by the time.

The popular NFT game titled “Axie Infinity” has made a rise to the Play-to-Earn movement. Loads of mimic gaming projects have been released with the expectation of reaching the same level of success as Axie Infinity.

Of many NFT games released after Axie Infinity, Alien World and Splinterlands are the most noticeable NFT games worth notice. These two game titles have reached a jaw-dropping number of users, accounting for hundreds of thousands of daily users.

The Play-to-Earn trend had reached its peak in November 2021, with Axie Infinity recorded 2.7M daily active users.

However, the Play-to-Earn games also have certain limitations which seem to relate to the token degradation and the imbalance of in-game economy.

The Play-to-Earn trend has gradually faded away in the first half of 2022 with an alarming drop in the number of Axie Infinity daily active users, only 1M recorded in May 2022.


Conclusion about nft business model
Conclusion about nft business model

Though in any form of an NFT business model, NFTs are governed as a central object and directly affect the ultimate success of any business.

All in all, the Play-to-Earn NFT business model is of utmost concern since it has made up a trend in 2021 and early 2022.

There are still lots of inquiries on whether or not this trend can still survive and continue to play a role in the next bull cycle or not?

Axie Infinity, the leading Play-to-Earn game, has finally come to close its “Play-to-Earn” version and release a new version called “ Axie Origin” which prides itself on the true meaning of game and for recreation first, income later.

Since there are a large number of NFT games which follow the Play-to-Earn NFT business model of Axie Infinity, there is still a question hanging over the head on whether or not they should transform themselves like the leaders or be persistent with the old model? takes these questions seriously and raises the question with several representatives from our gaming partners in our network. We will be discussing the NFT business model and how to win the hurdle of NFT games with a quite impressive gaming project that we know in the first episode of a special series called “ State Of MetaFi”.

Please check out our announcement on the media channel and join us for further discussion on this hot topic of the GameFi industry.

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