- Blockchain platform WAX will give out 10 million NFTs, one for each of the first 10 million accounts registered on its platform.
- WAX has recently seen about 18 million daily smart contract transactions—far more than other platforms, per DappRadar.
Amid the NFT market boom of the past year, WAX doesn't get much hype. Ethereum has the high-dollar, headline-grabbing sales and the bulk of the overall trading volume, while Solana and Flow have both played host to notable respective successes in the space.
But even with less buzz around it, WAX has quietly put up notable stats. It boasts the highest smart contract transaction volume of any chain today, with DappRadar reporting around 18 million daily transactions of late, while major brands like Funko, Mattel, AMC, and Sony Pictures have tapped the platform for NFT drops.
WAX—short for Worldwide Asset eXchange—also recently surpassed the milestone of 10 million total wallets accounts on the platform (now up to 11 million), and will celebrate by airdropping a total of 10 million free NFT collectibles to those wallets. It's the largest single NFT drop to date and will be entirely free for the first 10 million WAX wallet holders.
The free NFTs span 10 different digital pins, each marking a different moment in WAX's history. From the 2019 mainnet launch to its carbon neutral certification, and even its recent partnership with AMC and Sony Pictures for "Spider-Man: No Way Home," the 10 million NFTs collectively herald the platform's growth up to this point.
CEO and co-founder William Quigley told Decrypt that WAX wanted to mark the wallet milestone with a large-scale drop that he said would be impossible on some other leading platforms. While it represents WAX's own history, he also wants the airdrop to show brands that they can execute projects with millions of NFTs using its platform.
"Most people who are somewhat familiar with NFTs understand that Ethereum NFTs are slow and very expensive to mint," he said. "And so we thought: Well, no one has ever tried to do 10 million NFTs. We've done maybe 2.5 million with the Topps MLB baseball cards, but even that vastly outnumbered anything anybody on other chains had done."
Quigley said that WAX had about 500,000 registered users at the end of 2020, so the recent 10 million mark represents a 20-fold increase in users over the span of about one year. The broader NFT market itself grew dramatically throughout 2021, jumping from about $100 million in trading volume in 2020 to $23 billion last year, per data from DappRadar.
Minting 10 million NFTs on Ethereum's mainnet would be prohibitively expensive, he suggested, adding that the "chain would have collapsed" due to its limited transaction throughput. He knocked other rival chains for their struggles, as well—Solana faced a period of extended downtime in September, while Ethereum sidechain scaling solution Polygon saw soaring fees recently due to a now-shuttered play-to-earn game called Sunflower Farmers.
WAX has numerous play-to-earn games and other applications on DappRadar's list of the most popular decentralized applications (dapps) by user count. Quigley said that while rising demand can sometimes test WAX, the blockchain platform has remained online and functional.
"While it has been really rough at times to manage, we've managed. WAX hasn't fallen down," he said. "You've got these chains like Solana and Polygon where their entire reason for existence is that they can scale. And [Polygon] couldn't handle one popular play-to-earn game. Not one. And we're dealing with dozens."
WAX plans ahead
WAX's growing reputation as a destination for brands—with Reebok, Mattel, Capcom, and Atari also on that list—is partly due to the platform's scaling capabilities and low fees, Quigley said. But it's also due to his team's background with working with brands, including his own past position as the Chief Financial Officer of Disney's licensing division.
"When we talk to brands about stewardship of their intellectual property, we talk their language," Quigley told Decrypt. "We can protect their brands, and a lot of things come down to trust."
📢 NEW #NFT DROP: @StreetFighter Classic #NFTs are coming to WAX!
Starting January 20th, limited edition #StreetFighter collectibles will be available for $WAXP only. The collection features 8 action-packed rarities & 121 unique #tradingcards.
Details: https://t.co/IfW2GCWzXj pic.twitter.com/0hdP4yqp5V
— WAX Blockchain (@WAX_io) January 13, 2022
Going forward, he anticipates growing interest in WAX's "vIRL" NFT format, or "Virtual in Real Life." Effectively, it's an NFT digital twin that can be redeemed for a physical version of the product, and brands like Funko and Mattel have already tapped the technology for projects.
Quigley said it's ideal for in-demand products like sneakers and streetwear that often go through resellers, thus saving on some of the costs and environmental impact of shipping products between multiple parties before it eventually reaches the end-user.
He also expects more crypto gaming activity on WAX, particularly as the budding play-to-earn genre evolves and expands into richer, more compelling game experiences. He understands why AAA game publishers have faced backlash to in-game NFT item launches, and suggests that such items haven't yet brought meaningful utility to games.
"A lot of gamers don't like NFTs—they think of them as cash grabs," he said. "I would say that's not far off when it comes to AAA titles."
Ultimately, he believes that it won't be the traditional, powerhouse video game publishers that prevail in the play-to-earn space. Instead, it will be indie creators that develop games with NFTs at their core and consider what makes the technology beneficial to players and experiences.
As with mobile and browser-based games, he expects rapid and significant evolution ahead.
"The indie game developers that embrace this technology are going to start developing games that go from primitive–they're almost like DeFi mechanics as opposed to games—into full-blown video games," said Quigley. "It's really work-to-earn right now—it's not a lot of playing. But we will get to play-to-earn."