Open war has finally erupted between leading NFT marketplaces.
On Wednesday, upstart NFT marketplace Blur announced that it will enforce full creator royalties for any collection that blocks trading on dominant NFT trading platform OpenSea—a marked escalation of hostility towards the rising company’s chief rival.
Blur, which launched last October, does not fully honor creator royalty settings—that means the platform does not enforce a fee (typically between 5% and 10%) that NFT creators routinely request on secondary sales of their works. Currently, the platform only enforces a 0.5% minimum creator royalty, with the option for traders to pay more.
Blur announced today, however, that it will enforce any royalty fee requested by any NFT project creator—so long as that creator blocks the trading of their collections on OpenSea.
In a blog post, Blur’s leadership framed this policy change as a purely defensive survival tactic, forced by OpenSea’s own non-competitive practices.
“Creators that whitelist both OpenSea and Blur should be able to earn royalties on both platforms,” the company said. “Today, OpenSea automatically sets royalties to optional when they detect trading on Blur. We would like to welcome OpenSea to stop this policy, so that new collections can earn royalties everywhere.”
Last fall, a number of NFT marketplaces, including Blur, stopped honoring creator royalties, upending a practice that until then had been considered an industry norm. OpenSea flirted with the possibility of following suit, but retracted that stance after widespread pushback from the NFT community.
Stuck in a precarious situation, the $13.3 billion company rolled out a blocklist tool allowing creators to prohibit their NFTs from being traded on any marketplace that didn’t honor creator royalties. Collections that opted into using the tool would be guaranteed full enforcement of their own creator royalties on OpenSea.
The move was, naturally, a major hit to Blur’s value proposition to NFT artists: royalty fees can, especially for dominant collections, generate millions of dollars in revenue. And no marketplace has been nearly as critical to the broader Ethereum NFT ecosystem as OpenSea.
Blur clearly hopes or believes, however, that such once-accepted realities may soon be changing. Its marketplace is riding high after airdropping its long-awaited BLUR token on Tuesday. The anticipation of receiving that token, which was doled out as a financial incentive to ditch other NFT marketplaces, was largely responsible for propelling Blur to its current position as the most viable threat to OpenSea’s dominance in recent months.
The upstart rival has even topped OpenSea in terms of overall Ethereum NFT trading volume of late, although it hosts much more wash trading (or manipulated trades to game its token rewards model) than OpenSea. Blur has reportedly been able to circumvent OpenSea's blocklist tool in recent weeks.
It's unclear how long Blur can sustain its current popularity following yesterday’s token launch. But the company is clearly capitalizing on the moment to clap back at its most powerful competitor. Following Blur’s announcement, some Twitter users framed the company’s policy change as the unavoidable outcome of OpenSea’s initial offensive move last fall against its rivals.
Some championed the move as a long-awaited, serious challenge to OpenSea’s supremacy.
But most were simply amused at the declaration of what's shaping up to be a zero-sum game between two of the NFT ecosystem’s top players.
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