In early 2018, I started writing about NFTs because it was the first time I wanted to download a wallet other than just speculate on tokens in decentralized exchanges. The bull market just hit its peak, and over 90% of MetaMask users were trading tokens on EtherDelta, trying to snipe the latest ICO that hit the market, not too different from NFT whitelists in the last bull market.
The question that was constantly on my mind at the time, along with others, was “what is going to make crypto cross the chasm into the mainstream?” Blockchain gaming seemed to be the obvious answer, since gaming had large impacts on previous paradigm shifts in technology.
If you weren’t around in 2019 and I told you how many users used the most popular decentralized application , you wouldn’t believe me. MyCryptoHeroes, a game built by a small team in Japan, had ~3800 users as the top decentralized application in crypto. This was less than three years ago. OpenSea only had ~600 users around this time. EOS was gaining traction from other popular blockchain games like EOSKnights, but suffered validator collusion.
We all know what happens after that.
DeFi was becoming more popular, with projects like MakerDAO, Compound, and Uniswap. And when Compound launched a token with incentives to provide liquidity to the protocol, it kicked off DeFi summer. Yield farming became the best way for protocols to drive value to their token, even with many calling it unsustainable. Tourists started piling their money on-chain from centralized exchanges to take advantage of the yield. By then, people wanted to do more with their money on-chain, and influencers on crypto twitter tried to take advantage by selling NFTs and rugging their followers.
Of course, it didn’t stop others from doing the same, and plenty of tourists started flooding the scene, trying to buy the latest PFP mint shilled by the top influencers.
So now that the bear market is here, the question is, did crypto cross the chasm into the mainstream? To answer that question, we need to understand why tourists are coming to crypto. If the answer is to make money, then yes. If the answer is to be sovereign, self-sufficient, and do something every day they otherwise can’t do without crypto, then no.
We’re at the same point as we were three years ago, with many top investors calling blockchain gaming the next big wave of utility.
My favorite part about the bear market is that summer is over and the tourists are gone. The locals are the only ones left to build before the tourists come back again next summer.
The bear market is a time for questioning baseline assumptions. Do projects need a token? If so, are fungible tokens or non-fungible tokens better for coordination? What are the best ways to distribute tokens that limit speculation and foster participation?
These are the questions that are constantly on my mind in this bear market.