Bitcoin NFTs via Ordinals are the buzziest thing in the space lately, with more than 100,000 such media assets committed to the blockchain in barely two weeks. Surprisingly, that tally includes 535 NFTs from DeGods—the most valuable Solana NFT project.
DeGods revealed the move on Monday as word circulated that the profile pictures (PFPs) had all been inscribed on Bitcoin in a single block. ("Inscribing" is the process by which NFT-like assets are created on the Bitcoin blockchain, akin to "minting" on Ethereum.) The 535 particular images were originally released via Solana in 2021, but were “burned” (or permanently destroyed) to cut down the supply in the early days of the project.
Project creator Rohun Vora, who goes by the pseudonym Frank, told Decrypt that he and Dust Labs CEO Kevin Henrikson (who simply goes by Kevin) are longtime Bitcoin aficionados who relished the opportunity to bring the project onto the leading cryptocurrency’s network in the early days of Ordinals momentum.
Aesthetics matter a lot to my team @DeGodsNFT.
It was an honor working with @hash_bender to make sure there was no random trashy Ordinals minted in between all 535 DeGods.
All in one block. Simple. Beautiful.
Inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain forever. pic.twitter.com/Yfuvc8IDuT
— Frank III (@frankdegods) February 14, 2023
“Bitcoin is the best brand in crypto—just as pristine as it gets,” Frank told Decrypt. “It's the most well known, and truly as simple but powerful as it can get. And the mission statement is it's never been corrupted, right? It's like global sound money. That is so powerful. Aligning ourselves with the best brand in crypto is a no-brainer at any given point in time.”
Now those 535 PFPs have gained a second life on Bitcoin with never-before-seen upgraded artwork. DeGods previously provided holders refreshed “DeadGods” artwork last year, and created upgraded artwork for the burned NFTs as well, plotting an eventual revival.
“We always had this notion of ‘What is dead may never die,’” Kevin explained, echoing the familiar refrain from the HBO series "Game of Thrones." “And it was this idea, like: Holy shit, this is so perfect. We can literally bring these back, mint them as Ordinals on BTC, and it's permanent,” he said.
Back to life
Ordinals is a unique way of inscribing NFT-like media and assets to the Bitcoin blockchain by connecting them with a single Satoshi, or 1/100,000,000th of one BTC. The media is fully stored on-chain and the Ordinal can be transferred, although there’s still a need for a lot more infrastructure and platforms for transacting and handling the assets.
It has quickly given rise to CryptoPunks clones and playable web games on Bitcoin. OnChain Monkey, an Ethereum project, also put its entire 10,000 NFT original collection into a single inscription. However, Ordinals has also drawn considerable backlash from Bitcoin maximalists, plus it has boosted network congestion—and transaction fees in tandem.
Kevin said that they dove into Ordinals as soon as it started gaining steam. But with the DeGods inscriptions, they didn’t just want to mint them in the typical way and have the inscriptions added to the network across potentially multiple Bitcoin blocks.
Instead, they worked with a Bitcoin miner, Luxor Technologies CEO Nick Hansen, to arrange for all 535 of the NFT inscriptions to be etched onto the blockchain in a single, exclusive block. The block was processed by DMG Blockchain Solutions’ Terra Pool, which claims to be a carbon-neutral mining pool powered by renewable energy solutions.
Over 1 year ago, 535 DeGods were burned.
Many have speculated on their return.
What is dead may never die. pic.twitter.com/fmP1FhZI6F
— Frank III (@frankdegods) February 13, 2023
“It was a deal-breaker for us if we couldn't do it as a custom block, because we had to do something special,” Frank told Decrypt. “It’s the DeGods way, right? You can't just do it in the basic way. You’ve gotta do something that feels really fresh.”
Ultimately, to fit the 535 images into a single Bitcoin block, they had to be seriously compressed. Each was resized down to a low-resolution 210x210 pixels—a nod to the total Bitcoin supply of 21 million BTC—and in the .webp file format to conserve space. But now they’re all inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain for future use.
While many NFTs on Ethereum and other platforms store their artwork externally on either centralized servers or decentralized storage solutions (like IPFS), Ordinals fit the artwork or asset entirely within the on-chain block. That proved to be a key part of the appeal for the DeGods team—that these assets will live potentially forever on Bitcoin.
“I've run a [Bitcoin] node, and the idea that every single node on the planet is now verifying and backing up this image is so powerful,” Frank said. “That is what got us really excited.”
Meanwhile, the broader DeGods project is already set to be bridged from Solana to Ethereum sometime this quarter, as announced in December—with sister project y00ts bridging from Solana to Polygon.
That’s still happening for the rest of the project’s 10,000 total NFTs, and Frank tweeted this week that “having a presence on all blockchains is important.” However, these 535 specific DeGods NFTs, which were previously burned on Solana, will only live on Bitcoin via Ordinals.
It's just the beginning. pic.twitter.com/F3vxzXQAOy
— Frank III (@frankdegods) December 25, 2022
How they roll out remains to be seen, however. The official DeGods account tweeted Monday that details on how to mint the Bitcoin NFTs will be announced “in the coming days.”
On Tuesday, however, Kevin told Decrypt that they’re currently being held in private wallets, and that they’re waiting for more tooling to be deployed to make Ordinals safer to handle and transact. Once that target is hit, Kevin said that they have plenty of ideas on how to launch the NFTs in an effort to “come back to our holders and support the community.”
“We're gonna essentially sit on them,” Kevin said, “until we are comfortable that the tooling will support the proper custody of these for a reasonably sophisticated crypto connoisseur.”