History of NFT Marketplaces V2

The History of NFT Marketplaces V2

January 2014 — December 2022

Disclaimer: All Information used within this dialogue has been referenced from public information. Dates, timelines, and graphics may be subject to imprecise information. NFT Marketplace launches are subject to soft and beta releases which are likely to have found activity days or weeks prior to their shared public opening. Protocols, Exchanges, are Marketplaces may share similar properties that are enacted for different purposes, which may seem redundant or unnecessary. For the purpose of narrative and story the entirety of this series will follow the public timeline.

Collect this post (NFT) on Optimism!

Created by: Jake Gallen
First Published: January 4th, 2023
Last Edit: January 19th, 2023

Checkout the companion Twitter Thread for V1!
Checkout the companion Twitter Thread for V2!

As I slowly constructed the NFT Marketplace Roadmap piece-by-piece I began to question why I even bother putting this together. Actually, my mind became flooded with more questions than I actually began with.

  • The History of NFT marketplaces, is this even important?
  • What will an individual take away from consuming this ultra-niche type of content?
  • How will this newfound knowledge impact the reader?
  • Is it necessary in the overall scheme of things?
  • Will it be remembered and how will it be applied?

My previous contributions to the Historical NFT community began in the form of twenty-seven Youtube Videos covering the MoonCat ecosystem known as the MoonCat Tutorial Series. I then followed up with more than seventy individual podcast episodes covering The History of NFTs, interviewing original creators, founders, teams, and collectors in the space (which is still active today). While recently just concluding the NFT Archaeology Calendar Series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), which covers the culture and history of NFT Archaeology.

I began this journey with a vision to master an individual community, then moved on to understanding the leaders who govern those communities, and followed up by analyzing trends and dissecting the key moments that led us to the Historical NFT space we know today. As my goals and aspirations for understanding and accomplishment migrated from the micro to the macro, I began to realize what Phase II meant for HNFTs: infrastructure.

Towards the end of spring 2022 I really began thinking about what was next for this slowly maturing “vintage” market. We were moving out of the individual stage and into the community curation stage. This is when I began throwing some tweets out to see what the responses it would garner. Up until this point the community saw a handful of websites, archives, and aggregators pop up, but not much substance surrounding integral financial products.

In that instance I felt a rush over me that I hadn’t felt since I started my podcast back in 2020 or when I first dove down the crypto rabbit hole back in 2016. I knew building a Historical NFT Marketplace would be an opportunity of a lifetime. So I began rigorously researching anything surrounding NFT Marketplaces from any blockchain across any timespan.

After spending some time exploring the NFT marketplace, I began noticing a massive trend that followed my proposed theory in the tweet above. The feeling of being right is one thing, but actually matching that energy in the world of encrypted digital entrepreneurship would be on a whole different level.

So I began reaching out to trusted and knowledgeable leaders in the HNFT space to gauge interest. The internal decision had been made, and now it was time to see if this would be a lone venture or not. After spending some months finding interest, hopping on calls, and undergoing some stern negotiations, Adam McBride, myself, and the team at Emblem Vault mutually agreed to embark on the adventure of building a Historical NFT Marketplace.

Now you may be wondering why I just told you this story. Well, when you look at the NFT Marketplace Roadmap, you’ll notice it ends with the year 2022, which also coincides with our projected plan to launch a Historical NFT Marketplace in 2023, crosses fingers.

The old adage goes that during a gold rush, you want to be selling the “picks & shovels” and not panning for gold. If NFTs are gold, then Historical NFTs are the Montezuma’s treasure, which is worth magnitudes more than the value any shiny rock can exude. If NFT marketplaces are your typical jeweler, then a Historical NFT Marketplace will be your world-famous auction house. So next time we update this Roadmap, we may be celebrating history while making it.

2014 Protocols

November 2014

Counterparty was launched in January 2014 as a platform for Bitcoin users to create derivative financial assets and tools. Its primary use was for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, and it became home to some of the earliest non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as Spells of Genesis, Rare Pepes, and Sarutobi Island. The native currency of Counterparty, XCP, was created through a process called Proof-of-Burn, where BTC was burned to create XCP. The built-in decentralized exchange (DEX) of Counterparty was innovative at the time, predating many DEXs that are now common in the blockchain industry. For a long time, Counterparty was not well-known, but it has gained popularity in recent years, especially during the NFT boom of 2021. Today, it has a thriving ecosystem and can be purchased through outlets such as XCP Dispensers, Emblem Vault, and Scarce City.

March 2014

OneName was a precursor to the current state of NFTs. Created by Muneeb Ali, Co-Founder of Stacks, OneName used the Namecoin blockchain to allow for decentralized identities that could facilitate Bitcoin payments and user profiles. With OneName, users could register their Twitter profile pictures and banners on Namecoin, enabling them to create a profile page on OneName. This effectively allowed for the creation of individual non-fungible assets that were transferable and one of the earliest tokenized images on a blockchain.

May 2014

Monegraph was created by long-time tech entrepreneur Anil Dash and NYU Professor Kevin McCoy during a 24-hour contest at the Seven on Seven conference on May 3, 2014. During this 5th annual artist x technologist collaborative project, the group came up with an idea on how to “authenticate” digital artwork and secure digital property. After just one short day, they presented in front of the conference a method in which digital ownership would be successful utilizing the Namecoin blockchain. With a live demonstration, they registered a car gif and then Anil would purchase the newborn tokenized artwork for $4 in cash. This presentation would go down in history as likely the first ever “live mint” and at the time what many considered the first ever tokenized artwork. Thus, Monegraph (Monetized Graphics) was born on the protocol level. In 2021, Anil Dash wrote a blog post recanting the experience 7 years later.

August 2014

Dogeparty is a fork of Counterparty that was launched in late 2014 by Adam B. Levine and others. It used the same Proof-of-Burn mechanism as Counterparty to create its native token, XDP, which required users to burn Dogecoin in order to receive XDP. Dogecoin’s infinite inflation protocol made this an attractive option for some users who wanted to counteract the increasing supply of Dogecoin. Dogeparty was active for about a year and then faded into obscurity in the middle of 2015. In 2021, a Dogeparty Foundation was formed and the project was revived. XDP assets can be purchased through XDP Dispensers and Emblem Vault.

April 2015

Ascribe was a non-fungible token (NFT) protocol built on Bitcoin that operated from 2014 to 2018, even with its own language SPOOL! It hosted 31,900 tokens for 13,500 users. The protocol and platform found early success with multiple tokenized marketplaces building on top of it. In early 2018, the ERC721 standard for NFTs was introduced on the Ethereum blockchain, which allowed artists to register their art directly on Ethereum. This led to a migration of users from Ascribe to Ethereum, and Ascribe decided to shut down its platform. When it closed, all the NFTs on the platform were lost and unable to be claimed by anyone. One of the founders of Ascribe has stated that there may be hope for recovering these “vintage” NFTs in the future.

The Birth of NFT Marketplaces (2015 — Present)

January 2016

Cointemporary was the first marketplace to build on top of Ascribe, utilizing the SPOOL infrastructure, launching in March 2015. Every ten days, a new digital artwork would appear on the website and would be available for purchase with Bitcoin, marking the first time in blockchain history that a piece of tokenized digital artwork could be purchased with a digital currency (Bitcoin). After the ten-day mark, a new piece of artwork would appear on the website and the cycle would repeat. One of the founders of Ascribe, Trent McConaghy, recounts his experience making history with the demonstration at MAK Vienna.

December 2015

In 2015, a marketplace using Ascribe emerged that aimed to sell non-fungible assets in the form of recorded brainwaves, captured using a wireless headset called the Emotiv Insight. These recordings were marketed as limited digital editions of “thoughts and dreams.” The marketplace, called N3uro, was developed by Greg McMullen and Ascribe Co-Founder Trent McConaghy during the Ascribe CONSTRUCT Hackathon in September 2015. However, N3uro was denied a collaboration opportunity with Emotiv, which led to the experiment being shut down shortly after.

April 2016

After nearly 18 months of publicly demonstrating Monegraph (the protocol) with Anil Dash in May 2014, Kevin McCoy launched Monegraph (the marketplace) on September 28th, 2015. Prior to the marketplace launch, Monegraph was used to create the highly coveted namecoin asset, Quantum, which was sold at Sotheby’s for $1.2M. However, Kevin and Sothebys was subsequently sued for selling a remint of the token on Ethereum and not the original “Chain of Ownership” on Namecoin, which was touted just a year before in a live presentation. Through some public tweets, we know that some transactions were conducted on the Quantum marketplace, but which ones we may never know since the platform closed down a few years after.

March 2016

EtherID is an identity protocol that was launched on November 29, 2015, around the same time that the ERC20 standard for fungible tokens was proposed on the Ethereum blockchain. It is similar to Namecoin Identities, which was launched in 2012, and the Ethereum Name Service (ENS), which was introduced in 2017. One notable feature of EtherID is that it had a built-in marketplace, allowing users to buy, sell, and transfer identity records with each other. This may have been the first NFT marketplace on Ethereum. Wrapped EtherIDs can be purchased on OpenSea.

March 2016

Spells of Genesis (SOG) is the first known blockchain game with collectible items, created by Shaban Shaame and EverdreamSoft. Originally planned to be called “Spells of Orbital,” it is a mobile game that combines elements of a trading card game (TCG), an arcade game, and a fantasy adventure. SOG raised funds for their native token BITCRYSTALS through an initial coin offering (ICO) and Bitcoin. In a unique fashion, the first card of the collection FDCARD was given out for free though a Proof-of-Work mechanism for giving away computational power that assisted in the development of vital medicines. These cards could be bought and sold through the SOG marketplace, and later other counterparty collections including Rare Pepes and JP Janssen’s JPJA. SOG can be purchased through XCP Dispensers or Emblem Vault.

January 2023

Left Gallery (LG) originally launched in December 2015 and in May 2016, it found its first class of artists to promote on the platform, including the Founder, Harm van den Dorpel. Initially, Ascribe powered Left Gallery, but once they shut their doors in 2018, LG made the transition to Ethereum, where they offered a diverse selection of artwork until 2022. The team has committed to keeping the site live and seed IPFS Hashes, ensuring that the artwork can live on forever. Left Gallery is viewed as a historic platform in the world of digital art and blockchain history.

2016 NFT Marketplaces

November 2016

PixelMap is a non-fungible token (NFT) project that was created in 2016 by Ken Erwin. It was launched before the first “compartment store” NFT marketplace, OpenSea, and a year after the ERC20 standard was introduced on the Ethereum blockchain. During this time, many pre-ERC721 NFT projects like PixelMap had to host their own buying and selling storefronts, which may not have been as typical as the marketplaces we see today. However, these projects played an important role in the development of the NFT industry. Wrapped PixelMap can be purchased on OpenSea.

2017 NFT Marketplaces

January 2017

Rare Pepes are often considered the “birth of the crypto art movement” because of their decentralized origins. They started as a joke in a Telegram group and grew into a multiyear collection featuring over 300 artists and 1774 unique tokens. After RAREPEPE was minted on Counterparty in September 2016, the community realized they needed a place to store and trade these dank memes. Joe Looney responded by launching RarePepeWallet, which has become a popular destination for Rare Pepe collectors. Rare Pepes can be purchased on pepe.wtf, Scarce City, XCP Dispensers, and Emblem Vault.

April 2018

Curio Cards are considered the first “art NFT collection on Ethereum,” having launched in May 2017. Unlike Rare Pepes, which were curated by a group of “Rare Pepe Scientists,” artists anonymously submitted their artwork to the Curio Cards team, which then presented the submissions to the community for voting. Curio Cards used a unique approach to distributing their NFTs by using “vending machines” on their website, each of which held a specific supply of cards set by the artist. In total, 31 cards were released as part of the collection (including a misprint of 17B), and the collection did not fully sell out until its rediscovery in 2021. Wrapped Curio Cards can be purchased on OpenSea.

June 10th, 2017

CryptoPunks are widely credited with inspiring many developments in the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), including the profile picture movement (PFP), the ERC721 standard, and the use of a standardized supply of 10,000 units. In addition to these innovations, the CryptoPunks marketplace was also groundbreaking and continues to be used today, in part because it is embedded in the V2 code. However, the marketplace has evolved over time. In the V1 version of CryptoPunks, there was an exploit that allowed buyers to purchase a CryptoPunk and then have the spent ETH returned to their wallet. Larva Labs made a series of improvements to the marketplace, leading to the iconic brand that CryptoPunks is today. Wrapped CryptoPunks V1 can be purchased on OpenSea, and CryptoPunks V2 can be purchased on CryptoPunks.app.

December 2017

MoonCatRescue is one of the earliest generative non-fungible token (NFT) projects, launched by ponderware in August 2017. It allowed users to randomly generate over four billion possible cat outcomes, resulting in 25,440 selections by 2021. The MoonCatRescue marketplace functioned similarly to CryptoPunks, with bidders required to deposit ETH into the marketplace contract in order to make an offer on a MoonCat. Owners had the ability to accept bids or put their cats up for sale through the “Request” function. The Genesis MoonCats (Black and White) were listed on a bonding curve that started at 0.3 ETH and increased in 0.3 ETH increments with each Genesis purchase, making it the first marketplace bonding curve. Acclimated MoonCats can be purchased on OpenSea.

November 2017

Dada launched their first non-fungible token (NFT) project, Creeps & Weirdos (CW), in 2017, along with a native marketplace. This marketplace was notable for being the first known marketplace to offer creator royalties. Prior to CW, marketplaces like CryptoPunks and MoonCatRescue offered no royalties to creators, and when OpenSea launched a few months later, it became a leader in protecting creator royalties. Dada’s introduction of creator royalties in the CW marketplace may have had a lasting impact on the NFT industry. Wrapped Creeps & Weirdos can be purchased on OpenSea.

June 2017 (Translated to English from Japanese)

Monaparty was launched in late 2017 as a fork of the Counterparty platform for creating tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. It operates as a side-chain for the 2013 Japanese-influenced blockchain Monacoin. On January 8, 2018, Monaparty’s most popular NFT collection, MonaCard, was launched. Like Rare Pepes, MonaCard was curated by the community and has received over 6,000 contributions over the past four years. MonaCards can be purchased on Monapallete and Emblem Vault.

December 2017

CryptoKitties is an NFT project launched by Dapper Labs on November 23, 2017. It is widely recognized as a pioneer in the NFT industry, having gained massive popularity in 2017 and almost congesting the Ethereum network with the high volume of breeding, buying, and selling of the kitties. Despite facing competition from other collections, CryptoKitties remained popular for a long time and is still well-known today. In addition to its innovation, the CryptoKitties marketplace was notable for having a user-friendly interface and appearance, with features like sorting, categories, and a colorful storefront that have been emulated by many other NFT marketplaces. CryptoKitties can be purchased on the CryptoKitties native marketplace and OpenSea.

June 2017

XChain launched towards the end of 2017 by longtime Counterparty supporter CoinDaddy. The release of the hybrid Counterparty block explorer added a plethora of functionality to the platform, including a functional DEX and Dispensers, which gave the community the ability to buy and sell tokens directly through the website. The platform also provided the ability to track the value of assets, issuance, burns, and transactions, giving communities like Rare Pepes and Spells of Genesis the ability to achieve price discovery. In 2021, XChain added support for Dogeparty after the Dogeparty Foundation came together and revived the project.

February 2018

OpenSea is an NFT marketplace that launched in December 2017 and was the first known marketplace to sell NFTs from multiple collections. It offered over 30 different projects just a few months after its launch. At the time, most NFT projects were a hybrid of ERC20 tokens, as the complete standardization of the ERC721 standard with Su Squares did not occur until March 2018. It was not until later that OpenSea established itself as an ERC721-compliant marketplace, as it is today. In the five years since its launch, OpenSea has become a leading marketplace on Ethereum and has expanded to also serve NFT markets on other blockchains such as Solana, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain, Avalanche, and Layer 2s.

August 2018

EtherRock launched on December 26th, 2017, with a native exchange attached for ERC20 Pet Rocks. The project had little to no volume until its rediscovery in 2021. During that time, NFT archaeologists and historical NFT enthusiasts swarmed in and minted out the project, which was listed on a bonding curve. Months later, an Ether Rock sold for $1.3M and landed a segment on CNBC. The 2017 marketplace remains the sole directory for any interested parties who would like to spend over $100,000 on a digital pet rock.

January 2022

CryptoBots was created on December 29th, 2017, becoming the first “play-to-earn” game on the Ethereum blockchain by battling robots and earning tokens based on the outcome. As this project deployed a few months before the ERC-721 Standard, and during the initial launch of OpenSea, the CryptoBots team built a native marketplace to purchase these modified ERC-20 tokens. The contract offered an auction and bidding system to win your favorite CryptoBot and participate in the game.

The Rise of Ethereum-based Marketplaces (2018)

April 2018

This San Francisco-based start-up, Rare Bits, launched in February 2018 with $6M in raised capital, led by Spark Capital and Craft Ventures. Founder Amitt Mahajan announced the marketplace would be a zero-fee marketplace with a live auction system. The project would shut down towards the end of 2019 after failing to find product-market fit, despite having over 20 projects and 500,000 assets listed on the marketplace.

April 2018

Wyvern Protocol migrated to the Ethereum Mainnet in February 2018, with the intention of becoming the “Everything Digital Asset Exchange.” It aimed to enable the ability to buy and sell anything from MyEthermon Monsters to Smart Contracts. Later that year, OpenSea integrated the Wyvern auction and bidding system, which they utilized until 2022. The protocol is still active, but the Wyvern exchange went offline in 2019 after failing to find product-market fit.

April 2020

Super Rare is a curated NFT marketplace for artists that launched in April 2018. It was one of the first platforms to implement an allowlist (previously known as a whitelist) application process for artists. To become a Super Rare artist, an individual must apply and be approved by the platform, after which they can post their artwork to their curated storefront. Super Rare has a standard artist royalty of 10% and has introduced an ERC20 token called $RARE (in 2021) and the RarePass (in 2022).

August 2018

KnownOrigin is an NFT marketplace that launched in April 2018 as a platform for artists to authenticate, showcase, and sell their art and collectibles. This “artist first” marketplace was similar to Super Rare and competed with it for artists’ attention. KnownOrigin was acquired by eBay in June 2022 and continues to have moderate activity.

May 2019

Markersplace launched in June 2018 as a marketplace for digital creators to authenticate, collect, and sell their artwork. The platform aimed to address the longstanding issue of ownership that digital artists had faced for decades. In 2023, many notable artists continue to create on the platform, and it maintains a strong community with dedicated backers. While competition has increased in the five years since its inception, Markersplace continues to host a significant collection of historical artwork and remains active to this day.

December 2017

Rare Art Labs (RAL) has cemented its legacy in history as the promotion group that threw the legendary Rare Digital Art Fest in January 2018, featuring artists such as Joe Looney, Matt Hall, Shaban Shaame, and Bea Ramos. After a very successful launch, Rare Art Labs launched the R.A.R.E. NFT Marketplace, which featured one of the Lost XCOPY pieces. The small NFT community was heavily in support of the team, and mainstream media seemed to be in favor as well. However, after 3 years of the team’s inception and 2 years into the marketplace, RAL closed up shop towards the end of summer in 2020, locking all of the NFTs in its contract and losing the majority forever.

June 2018

Digital Objects (DO) was a curated art marketplace that served as a hub for a small, yet historically significant community. Founded in the summer of 2018 and shut down in the summer of 2020, the platform achieved notable success when the first-ever tokenized AI artwork created by the group OBVIOUS was sold at Christie’s Auction House for $450,000 in 2018. The DO smart contract also featured three Lost XCOPY pieces, which can still be viewed on OpenSea today. Artists on the platform had the option to integrate Digital Objects’ unique “Back of the Canvas” technology, while collectors had the ability to purchase tokens using Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Despite its innovative features, the platform failed to generate sufficient demand and was ultimately forced to close.

February 2019

The Cock Foster twins launched Nifty Gateway in 2018, bringing a new feature to the NFT market: the ability to purchase NFTs with USD. This was a significant development, as at the time no large NFT marketplace offered this option. In 2019, Nifty Gateway used an auction system to differentiate itself from competing marketplaces and attracted the attention of the Winklevoss twins, who acquired the platform later that year and integrated it into the Gemini ecosystem. Nifty Gateway also added Beeple to the platform, which helped to ignite the breakout moment for the NFT industry. Despite facing competition from other marketplaces, Nifty Gateway remains a go-to platform for auctions and open-edition NFTs.

The Lone 2019 Project

April 2020

Rarible is an NFT marketplace that launched in the winter of 2019. Just six months later, it introduced the first-ever native NFT marketplace token, $RARI. The governance token was intended to reward collectors and creators and to envision a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) future for the platform. However, the token was primarily used for wash trading, in which users would trade and then buy back their own tokens in order to inflate their value. Since then, Rarible has transitioned to zero fees for users who lock their $RARI tokens and has added support for other blockchain platforms, including Tezos, Solana, and Immutable X.

Gaining some Steam in 2020

September 2020

Foundation is an NFT platform that was announced in May 2020 and launched its first collection in October of that year. It opened its NFT marketplace to the public in February 2021 and has a unique invitation-only system for NFT creators. To mint NFTs on the platform, creators must have an invite code, which can only be sent by members who have already sold at least one NFT on the platform. Collectors can bid on auctions without any restrictions. Foundation is an “artist-centric” platform that focuses on protecting creator royalties while providing a range of tools and utilities for creators, including an auction system, a minting portal, and more.

October 2020

NBA Top Shot is an NFT collection that was released on the Flow blockchain in 2020 by Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties. The marketplace features categories such as players, teams, sets, challenges, and more. NBA Top Shot is similar to traditional basketball cards, but with dynamic videos instead of static images. The collection became popular in early 2021, with some NFTs selling for over $100,000, and helped to introduce thousands of people to the world of NFTs. Many people believe that NBA Top Shot played a significant role in the recent bull run in the NFT market.

The NFT Explosion of 2021

December 2022

NFTX is an NFT protocol that was launched in January 2021 by developer Alex Gausman. It was the first protocol for NFT-backed index funds, bringing traditional finance properties to the world of NFTs and creating a true DeFi x NFT product. NFTX allows users to create pools of NFTs that are backed by ERC20 tokens that represent the amount of instant liquidity in the pool. This is a unique approach to NFT marketplaces, as it allows users to purchase “partial shares” of an NFT using the ERC20 tokens. NFTX is the first NFT marketplace to host multiple ERC20 tokens on its platform.

August 2022

Crypto.com quickly recognized the potential of the burgeoning NFT market and launched its own marketplace in March 2021. In an effort to differentiate itself, the marketplace adopted a strategic approach of partnering with well-established traditional brands such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Coca-Cola, and the UFC to assist them in launching their own token collections. Given Crypto.com’s previous move to pay $700 million for naming rights to the LA Lakers arena, the launch of an NFT marketplace was not unexpected. However, despite these efforts, over the past two years, the platform has faced challenges in gaining significant attention in the crowded NFT market.

November 2021

Royal is an NFT marketplace that is dedicated to music NFTs. It was founded by DJ 3LAU, a well-known music artist and early NFT pioneer, and launched in early 2021. In just a few months, Royal received over $16 million in funding from Founders Fund and Paradigm. It is the second category-specific NFT marketplace (after art NFT marketplaces such as Super Rare, KnownOrigin, and Foundation) and has a focus on Music NFTs. Royal aims to change the music industry through the use of NFTs.

December 2022

OBJKT is an NFT marketplace that was launched on the Tezos blockchain in July 2021. It is currently the largest NFT marketplace on Tezos and focuses on art NFTs. OBJKT originally started as a platform that provided tooling for Hicetnunc (HEN), another Tezos NFT marketplace. After HEN faced challenges, OBJKT took over as the leading NFT marketplace on the Tezos blockchain. Art NFTs have found a product-market fit on Tezos, helping to establish the platform as a hub for clean NFTs.

Demember 2022

Magic Eden (ME) launched in September 2021 as a NFT marketplace competitor, aiming to become the top platform for buying and selling NFTs on the Solana blockchain. At the time, the Solana ecosystem was booming, and the NFT sector was ripe for the taking. Magic Eden’s first NFT collection, Kreechures, launched in February 2021, and the platform quickly gained popularity due to its user-friendly interface. In June 2022, Magic Eden raised $130 million in capital and integrated Polygon into the platform. The company has plans to become a leading multi-chain marketplace in the industry.

December 2022

Scarce.City has a unique history as a platform that launched at the end of 2020, originally as a marketplace for physical BTC art and assets. In summer 2021, it expanded to include a digital marketplace for buying and selling Counterparty assets. The platform utilizes the Bitcoin Lightning Network for low-cost and fast payments, making it a go-to destination for all types of Bitcoin art.

December 2022

Binance NFT launched in June 2021 as a way for the Binance ecosystem to support NFTs as they gained popularity globally. The platform was successful due to its low fees on the Binance Smart Chain and user-friendly interface. However, it also faced criticism for the proliferation of scams on the platform and its centralization around BNB. Despite these challenges, Binance NFT remains a popular marketplace within the BNB NFT ecosystem.

December 2021

Quantum, launched in October 2021 by renowned NFT photography artist Justin Aversano, is a vertical NFT marketplace that focuses specifically on photography NFTs. It aims to make NFT photography more accessible for artists and collectors alike by curating and dropping NFT collections. Justin gained credibility in the art world with the $1 million sale of “Twin Flames” at Christie’s in 2021. Since its launch, Quantum has expanded to include a physical storefront in Los Angeles and has also added digital art to the platform.

November 2021

Sudoswap launched in October 2021 as a fully On-Chain AMM protocol for NFT trading. It gained popularity in mid 2022 for offering 0% creator royalties and a low 0.5% marketplace fee. During a time when the crypto market was struggling, many traders were seeking ways to preserve their capital and Sudoswap’s offerings attracted a lot of attention. As Sudoswap gained market share, it caused some disruption in the industry, with some marketplaces following suit by offering 0% royalties and creators blocking marketplaces that didn’t pay them fairly. Today, Sudoswap is a popular choice for high volume NFT traders.

NFT Mania Takes over 2022

January 2022

Looks Rare burst onto the scene in January 2022 with a vampire attack on OpenSea, rewarding users with a $LOOKS airdrop based on their OpenSea trading history. This decentralized marketplace gave 100% of trading fees to buyers, sellers, and stakers on the platform. $LOOKS emissions were so high during the first 30 days of launch that the APY consistently exceeded 500% every day. Users were generating revenue and wash trading was rampant. The completely anonymous team of 40 employees recently announced that Q1 2023 will see the deployment of Looks Rare V2, including a mobile app, NFT aggregator, and more.

April 2022

X2Y2 launched shortly after Looks Rare in February 2022 in a similar fashion. They held an ILO (Initial Liquidity Offering) in February for 1000 investors and followed up with a token airdrop $X2Y2 to users based off of NFT trading records, which had some complications. The difference here was their 0% market place fee. The platform has gone through some turmoil when announcing their removal of creator royalties, only to walk this back months later. Today the platform has jumping into the NFT Loan business and has gained some marketshare in that sector.

December 2022

Coinbase NFT may be considered the most disappointing NFT marketplace launch of all time. The platform was announced in October 2021, but didn’t become publicly available until April 2022. In its first three months of launch, Coinbase NFT had failed to bring in more than $1 million in sales and had only had 1,200 sign-ups. Its “Social NFT Marketplace” allows users to friend other customers and comment on NFTs, similar to social media platforms. Despite this, by the end of 2022, Coinbase NFT was not being mentioned in any NFT conversations.

April 2022

ENS Vision launched in March 2022 as a tool to help ENS enthusiasts search for their Web3 identity. Over the next few months, ENS domains experienced a frenzy, fueled by 3 and 4 digit domains known as the 10k Club. The volume and demand became too much for OpenSea’s generalized NFT store, and ENS Vision saw an opportunity to capitalize on it. ENS Vision has become the go-to market for anything related to Ethereum Name Service, with a lower marketplace fee and additional tooling that no other marketplace offers.

January 2023

In July 2022, Gamestop, the beloved video game store that holds a special place in the hearts of many millennials, decided to enter the rapidly growing NFT industry with a particular focus on the gaming sector. In the aftermath of the Gamestop saga of 2021, rumors had begun to circulate that the iconic retail brand would be venturing into the world of cryptocurrency following its resurgence thanks to the actions of retail investors on Robinhood. To that end, the company has integrated multiple layer 2 scaling solutions, including ImmutableX and Loopring, in order to provide a smooth and efficient user experience on its platform. Despite a strong initial launch, the platform has seen a decline in activity and interest since its release.

December 2022

Uniswap, the top decentralized exchange for ERC20 tokens, acquired NFT Aggregator and Floor Sweeper Genie in June 2022, signaling its intention to enter the NFT market. With billions of dollars in its treasury and experience with fungible tokens, it is expected that Uniswap will become a top NFT marketplace over time. There have been hints that Uniswap will allow NFT purchases with multiple ERC20 options, which could give it a significant advantage in the market.

December 2022

Blur raised $11 million in seed capital, led by Paradigm, in early 2022. It wasn’t until October 2022 that Blur launched the “NFT Bloomberg Terminal,” a data-driven user interface built for traders. It was the first platform to offer both an NFT aggregator and marketplace under one roof. With a 0% marketplace fee and optional creator “tipping,” as well as three stages of token incentives for its $BLUR airdrop in January 2023, Blur has quickly become a top marketplace. However, it remains to be seen if the volume and community on the platform are sustainable beyond the initial token incentives.

And that’s a brief history of NFT marketplaces! It’s been just over a decade since the first digital non-fungible asset was registered to the Namecoin blockchain on April 21, 2011 with the creation of “bitcoin.bit.” Keep an eye out for the updated version 2 of our “NFT Marketplace Roadmap” in the future!

January 2014 — December 2022

Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the graphic but you should checkout!

  • EtherlambosNative Marketplace (Jan. 2018)
  • EtherWaifu’s Native Marketplace (March 2018)
  • Kaleidoscope’s Counterparty Marketplace (March 2018)
  • DIGIRARE’s Counterparty Marketplace (April 2018)
  • Mintable Ethereum NFT Marketplace (November 2020)
  • Hic et nunc Tezos NFT Marketplace [1st on XTZ] (February 2021)
  • FXHash Tezos NFT Marketplace (October 2021)
  • Stargaze Cosmos NFT Marketplace (October 2021)
  • Etheria V1.1/1.2 (2021)
    It has been reported that previous Etheria version 0.9 & 1.0 had built-in marketplaces but was never used. 1.1 & 1.2 exchanges were created until after rediscovery in 2021.

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