The NFT market has been growing steadily for several weeks, starting to stabilize after an erratic few months spurred by an explosion in sales.

An analysis of NFT market data by Crypto Investor shows that the NFT bubble may have burst almost immediately after it started in the first quarter of 2021 — teeing up an erratic few months that only now appears to be stabilizing and growing.

Crypto Investor used data from Cryptoslam.io and NonFungible.com for its analysis, creating an index of the top 15 NFT projects to analyze historical market movements dating back to 2018.

Here’s our findings: the top 15 NFT projects have grossed more than $1.3 billion in sales so far this year, more than $200 million in the last 30 days. CI’s analysis shows sales in the NFT collectible market, by far the largest sector by volume, have doubled since the end of May.

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And since the beginning of 2021, more than $700 million in funding has flowed into NFT projects, cash infusions that appear to be paying dividends for supported projects. The funding mix is attributed to Wall Street sources intermingled with crypto-native cash infusions.

The overwhelming majority of that cash flowed into NFT projects in the weeks after the market’s peak in February — a two day period, largely propelled by NBA Top Shot, when more than $100 million in NFTs were sold and traded.

Since then, the market has searched for its footing, with huge swings propelled by high profile NFT drops. Mixed results, on the whole...

Analysis shows that activity waned in May, and that many projects that benefitted with VC cash infusions are now growing steadily.

Consider that Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot raised $305 million alone in March at a $2.6-billion valuation. The company has since hired dozens of employees, including senior vice president of marketing David Feldman, who joins from the National Football League, and Senior Vice President of Communications Jackie Rubin, joined in May from Hasbro-owned Entertainment One. After months of decline, sales on NBA Top Shot’s marketplace have grown steadily in recent weeks with the advent of more utility and rewards released for their platform.

Axie Infinity, an NFT game built on battling and trading cuddly creatures called Axies, has seen a growth explosion of its own after raising $8.75 million from investors ranging from Mark Cuban to Blocktower Capital.

While the game has been around since 2018, Axie Infinity's developers attribute the spike to the migration of its platform from the Ethereum Mainnet to its own sidechain, Ronin. The change allows for near gas-less transactions — a mounting cost problem that plagues many ether-based projects.

The game platform has already posted more than $42 million in sales in June, more than the rest of 2021 combined, according to CryptoSlam.io. With more than 22,000 transactions on its closed marketplace, the platform has already surpassed its May sales.

Sorare’s European football collectible project also raised $50 million in the rush, which has turned into steady trading volume and less heart-wrenching swings than some of its competitors. Analysis shows the average sale on Sorare has only fallen 25% since its peak in February, compared to NBA Top Shot at 85%.

All three have been successful in providing something early NFTs did not — utility. NBA Top Shot, Axie Infinity and Sorare all provide things users can do with their collection, like leveraging them for access or using them in a game.

Projects like Topps’ Major League Baseball NFT set or more strictly artistic NFTs have, currently, less built-in utility and sales are suffering.

The NFT art market is far more fractured than other categories of NFTs. It’s a story of extremes.

Sotheby’s hauled in $17.1 million its first NFT auction last week, which included a mix of digital collectibles and art. But sales have declined precipitously on sites like SuperRare and MakersPlace, both of which support the independent creation of NFTs.

Artists also have myriad more options for minting and releasing NFTs, making them harder to track. Environmental concerns over energy usage on the Ethereum Mainnet have pushed many projects to sidechains, cloaking them for periods to data tracking sites like NonFungible.com or CryptoSlam.Io.

In an interview, Cryptoslam's founders said the breadth and variability of art NFTs make it difficult to capture with data. NonFungible.com makes an attempt at this, but it is incomplete at best. 

Tezos-based NFT platform Hic Et Nunc, for example, boasts that it has more active users than OpenSea — the largest Ethereum-based art NFT platform.

The overall NFT market is comparably tiny even to other crypto markets and remains diminished pitted against its frantic boom. In March and April, there were several days when more than $25 million in NFTs were sold among the top projects. On Friday, there were just over $10 million in sales, the highest level since early May.

New markets are on the horizon, though.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of NFT cartoon apes, has printed more than $30 million in sales this month bolstered by celebrity endorsements and the promise of commercial rights for owners. Music platform OneOf recently raised $63 million to build an environmentally friendly NFT service on the Tezos blockchain. Mythical Games closed on a series B of $75 million last week led by WestCap Group and backed by Vayner Media and Galaxy Digital to boost their NFT gaming platform.

And just yesterday, Fox announced it was seeding its own NFT platform with $100 million.

The space, for the moment, is only getting more crowded. 

Stephen Stirling is a senior reporter for the Street Crypto and Crypto Investor, covering the intersection of fiat and crypto. He makes and trades NFTS, and is currently an active user of NBA Top Shot, MLB Topps and Zed.Run. 

The NFT market has been growing steadily for several weeks, starting to stabilize after an erratic few months spurred by an explosion in sales.

An analysis of NFT market data by Crypto Investor shows that the NFT bubble may have burst almost immediately after it started in the first quarter of 2021 — teeing up an erratic few months that only now appears to be stabilizing and growing.

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