Weekly Roundup: What Happened in Play2Earn Games and NFTs This Week? [Feb. 17, 2022]
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Weekly Roundup: What Happened in Play2Earn Games and NFTs This Week? [Feb. 17, 2022]

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CoinMarketCap takes a look at some of the most prominent play-to-earn and NFT events — from the launch of OpenSea Ventures, to backlash over environment concerns of WWF's NFT sales.

Weekly Roundup: What Happened in Play2Earn Games and NFTs This Week? [Feb. 17, 2022]

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Mixed reactions have trailed the idea of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). While critics have raised concerns over the environmental impact of the sector, proponents of NFTs have continued to dabble into the space. For instance, while the World Wildlife Fund has been coerced into dropping its NFT plans, the publishers of Grand Theft Auto sees a bright future for digital collectibles.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting NFT news over the past week.

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OpenSea Launches Investment Arm — OpenSea Ventures

Leading NFT marketplace OpenSea is expanding its influence within the crypto space. The company announced the launch of an investment arm to fund Web3 projects on Friday. This was accompanied by a community grants program to bolster community initiatives that drive developments within the Web3 and NFT sectors.

Dubbed OpenSea Ventures, the new investment arm will provide technical support, advice, strategic connections and of course funding to startups. The initiative will be spearheaded by OpenSea co-founder Alex Attalah, with access to other investors and partners like Animoca Brands, Andreessen Horowitz, musician 3LAU and Katie Haun.

According to the announcement, OpenSea Ventures will zero in on four primary areas, including the shift to a multi-chain world” for both fungible and non-fungible assets, Web3 gaming and social projects, NFT-based protocols, and NFT aggregators and analytics platforms.

As earlier mentioned, OpenSea has also debuted a grant initiative called “Ecosystem Grants.” The aim is to support projects that work on NFT-based developer tools, create educational resources, enhance user accessibility, and promote inclusivity.

For a start, OpenSea will focus on working with short-term projects that can be deployed within two quarters of receiving the grant.

WWF Abandons NFT Plans Amid Environmental Backlash

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has backtracked on its NFT sales amid growing concerns from environmentalists on the market’s carbon footprint.

Earlier this month, the WWF announced the launch of its NFTs on Polygon. The organization claimed that its blockchain choice was environmentally friendly.
“Releasing our NFTs on the eco-friendly Polygon blockchain, each transaction has the equivalent carbon emissions of a glass of tap water.”

The claim of Polygon being environmentally friendly was not enough to stop critics from digging deep. Alex de Vries, founder of the Digiconomist website countered the claim, noting that:

“The carbon footprint of a Polygon transaction is close to 430 grams of C02. This is almost 2,100 times more than the optimistic estimate provided by the WWF, illustrating that Polygon is nowhere near as sustainable as claimed.”

Due to the criticism, the WWF was forced to abandon its NFT plans. They told the Independent:
“We agreed with our partners to bring this to a close last Friday. We recognize that NFTs are a much debated issue and we all have lots to learn about this new market, which is why we will now fully assess the impact of this trial and reflect on how we can best continue to innovate to engage our supporters.”

Candy Digital Launches NASCAR Team NFTs

Sports merchandising giant Fanatics is making yet another big play in the NFT space following the expansion of its digital collectible company, Candy Digital, into racing.

Dubbed Candy Racing, the new racing vertical is a collaboration between Candy Digital and Race Team Alliance. It is set to launch on February 15 and will feature NFTs based on 23 NASCAR Cup Series cars from 10 teams, including Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing.

It is worth clarifying that Candy’s deal is not with the NASCAR league itself. Rather it is with the Race Team Alliance, an organization that represents the collective interests of 13 teams in the league. Nevertheless, the NFTs will showcase the cars of popular drivers like Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick.

Candy is calling the NFTs “digi-cast,” akin to the digital version of classic die-cast cars. Each NFT showcases a deconstructed view of NASCAR’s new “next-gen” team cars in the driver’s respective paint scheme.

Beginning on Feb. 15, 2022, the open edition NFTs will start selling for $50 apiece. The sales will last for five days, running into the date of this year’s Daytona 500 race. To spice things up, those holding the NFTs for the top three finishers at Daytona will receive additional free NFTs at the end of the event.

Fanatics made its first major foray into the NFT scene last year after launching Candy Digital with the Major League Baseball license. The company also netted a $1.5 billion valuation for Candy in October following a $100 million Series A round.

Justin Aversano’s NFT Platform Raises $7.5 Million

Quantum art, an Ethereum-based NFT platform that touts itself as “the first on-chain platform focused solely on photographers and their work,” has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round.

The platform, which was co-founded by Justin Aversano along with Alexx Shadow, Kris Graves and Jonas Lamis, is looking to use the new capital to onboard more creators and expand its offerings beyond photography.

The funding round was led by True Ventures through its partner and NFT enthusiast, Kevin Rose. Other participants included popular investor and now NFT creator, Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as the NFT-centric Flamingo DAO. As per the announcement, other unnamed NFT personalities and collectors also took part in the round.

Quantum Art drew its inspiration from the popular Ethereum generative art platform Art Blocks. So far, the platform has launched projects from photographers like Erica Simone, Graves, Alberto Rizzo, Amy Elkins and several others.

Opportunity for NFTs in the Future, According to Grand Theft Auto Game Publisher

Digital collectibles may be nothing more than a passing fad to a lot of people. However, to Take-Two, the publishing company behind the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, NFTs are the future.

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick expressed his optimism over the future of NFTs via Nintendo Life. He said:
"We're highly convinced there's an opportunity for NFTs to fit with Take-Two's offerings in the future."

Despite the seemingly bright future of NFTs, Zelnick’s optimism comes with a caveat.

"We believe in rare goods, we believe in collectibles. The concern we have is that there's speculation going on. We want to make sure that consumers always have a good experience every time they engage with our properties and losing money on speculation is not a good experience, so we're going to stay away from speculation."

Zelnick’s comments come amid a brewing tussle between the gaming and NFT industries that have put both on a collision course. For instance, the team behind the award-winning first-person-shooter games series, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., was forced to abandon its earlier NFT plans for its upcoming sequel — S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl after a backlash from its gaming community. On the flip side, several gaming giants have adamantly jumped into the NFT space.

Last December, Ubisoft became the first major gaming company to debut in-game NFTs.

Alfa Romeo to Use NFTs to Track Vehicle’s Service Record

Beyond pixelated jpegs and fan arts, NFTs are primed to make an even bigger impact in the automobile industry. Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo announced that week that its new Tonale SUV would be embedded with an NFT certificate to track the car’s maintenance records and data history.
The automaker claimed in a press release that it was the first company to link a car with a digital NFT certificate that provides a "confidential and non-modifiable record of the main stages in the life of an individual vehicle." Commenting further on the so-called “first application” of digital collectibles in the automotive industry, Daniel Tiago Guzzafame, head of Alfa Romeo products, said in a launch video that the token "registers the uniqueness of the vehicle and the data you select, generating blockchain-guaranteed certification of the car's life record."

The new feature will need the owner’s consent to store a vehicle’s data when it is serviced. An immutable service log "can be used as a guarantee of the car’s overall status, with a positive impact on its residual value."

Alfa Romeo’s use of the NFT tech is akin to a digital equivalent of a logbook and dealer stamps that are currently being used to track a vehicle’s service history.

UN to Celebrate International Women’s Day With NFTs

Lately, hardly any major event goes by without a touch of NFTs. The UN will be marking this year’s International Women’s Day with NFTs.
Women-focused NFT collection, Boss Beauties, will become the first complete collection to be displayed at the UN headquarters on March 8. The female-led project will be releasing a one-of-one collection called Boss Beauty Role Models on the said date.

Launched in September, the Boss Beauties NFT collection has recorded some significant growth. It is currently ranked 123rd on OpenSea’s top NFT collections of all time, with a current floor price of 2.3 ETH or around $7,000.

Although the Role Models will not be the first NFTs to be displayed by the UN, they will be the first female-centric collection to be featured, a move that will create more exposure for works by other female artists.

Picasso or not? Picasso’s Great-grandson Struggles to Sell His NFTs

Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most renowned artists of all time. As such, one should expect that an NFT associated with his name should instantly sell out. However, the great-grandson of Picasso is currently struggling to sell his Ethereum NFTs.

Early this year, Florian, a DJ and music producer, along with his mother, Marina Picasso, unveiled their plans to release 1,011 NFTs based on a “never-before-seen” painted ceramic bowl that Pablo Picasso created in 1958. Florian reportedly told The Associated Press:
“We’re trying to build a bridge between the NFT world and the fine art world.”
The move was however not a smooth sail as other family members disagreed. The Picasso Administration, an organization formed to manage Picasso’s copyright as well as other assets still held by descendants, debunked Florian’s claims. In issued statements, the organization clarified that the Picasso’s heirs had no authorization to launch any such NFTs, adding that the work is Florian’s “own creation, independent of any claim vis-a-vis Pablo Picasso and his works."

The intra-family disagreement did not stop the young artist from launching his NFTs. Cyril Noterman, the longtime business manager for Florian Picasso, said - “Maybe we should have been a bit more clear from the beginning.” He clarified that the over 1,000 NFTs were in fact linked to Florian’s work and not his great-grandfather.

So far, sales have been slow. The 1,000 additional NFTs released on Origin Protocol marketplace are on sale for 2 ETH or $6,011 apiece. However, only 100 of these have been sold since February 1.

College Football’s NFL Gets Their Own NFTs at Senior Bowl

Following a collaboration between trading card giant Panini and the organizers of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, college football players received a one-of-a-kind custom collectible last weekend.

The Senior Bowl is an invite-only showcase for college football players hoping to make it to the big league.

Ahead of the game, each player recorded video footage that was then converted into a single-edition NFT. The digital tokens were minted on Panini’s own blockchain platform.

Meanwhile, players have the freedom to either sell or hold their tokens. Pittsburgh quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett told ESPN:
"It's all new to me, so I'm trying to get familiar with it. I think all the guys were excited to see how it turns out. I think it's really cool, so I'm just going to hold on to it and just take a shot and see what happens."
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