Free NFT Drops
A lot of us are drawn to the idea of free stuff, and this is what makes giveaways, competitions and free content incredibly compelling, and the world of non-fungible tokens is far from an exception to this.
Many successful NFT drops and projects have a free element to them, either providing free airdrops as a reward for community participation, as a sponsorship component for people who produce community content, as a giveaway prize, as a way to boost engagement, or as part of another game or project.
In fact, free NFTs are one of the biggest reasons why the technology took off the way it did in 2021, and this has created a rich tradition of giveaways, some of which have ended up becoming exceptionally valuable and increased awareness of the technology.
Here is a guide to ways in which you can provide some NFTs for free as part of your projects, examples of the concept being used well, and a few considerations to keep in mind before airdropping NFTs to any random wallet code.
How Do You Give Away NFTs For Free?
For the most part, free NFTs are made like any other token; you create the asset that represents it and then use a service to mint it onto the blockchain, where it can be distributed like any other blockchain asset.
At this early stage, it must be noted that because there are several costs involved with both minting and transferring NFTs from one account to another, there are costs involved in the giveaway, and some of these costs are paid by the minter, so a free NFT can still have an expense involved.
Here are some of the common ways free NFTs are distributed.
At one point the most common way to distribute NFTs, particularly when gas fees were much lower, an airdrop is when tokens are dropped into the wallets of people who meet certain conditions, such as signing up to a contest, owning other NFTs or part of a raffle.
A popularly cited example of this was the Mutant Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 20,000 NFTs of which half were given to existing Bored Ape Yacht Club owners, and the other half were part of a public sale.
Airdrops are a fascinating way to give away free NFTs as the nature of the blockchain means that you can immediately give an NFT to any other wallet and it is accepted automatically.
A free mint can work in a similar way to airdrops, except that rather than directly dropping an NFT into a wallet, a wallet becomes eligible to mint an NFT instead.
This is commonly done during the pre-sale phase, often as a giveaway for community members who help spread the word about a project or win the NFT as a prize. Either way, it often helps to quickly spark interest in a particular project.
One very important difference to bear in mind is that, unlike an airdrop, where the gas fees for minting and transferring the NFT are paid for by the project itself, the winner of the mint pays for these themselves.
This, in a way, is similar to certain contests and free gift offers where a person pays the shipping and handling costs.
Probably the most famous example of a free NFT mint and the one that put the concept on the map was CryptoPunks.
The story of how CryptoPunks launched is one that has made giveaways a fundamental part of NFT projects as the space has matured.
CryptoPunks were initially released in June 2017 and anyone with an Ethereum wallet could claim one for free so long as they paid the gas fees, which according to a Mashable article at the time were around 11 cents, showing just how much times have changed.
It would take a while for the market to mature and make these giveaways worth millions of pounds, but it highlights why a free NFT can be so appealing; even a token gotten for free or very cheap can be worth millions if the particular project skyrockets in popularity and goes “to the moon.
A free mint is less appealing to bystanders than CryptoPunks was due to the much higher fees involved, but is still a very promising way to start a project as it builds up momentum,
NFTs that are a fundamental part of a play-to-earn game are a somewhat special case and need a much wider discussion as they are a special case.
A play-to-earn game is one where NFTs and cryptocurrency tokens are fundamental parts of the game, with many of the in-game transactions requiring one or the other.
One of the best examples of this is Axie Infinity, where the creatures themselves are NFTs on the blockchain that can be bred with the help of the cryptocurrency Smooth Love Potion to make new Axie NFTs also on the blockchain.
As well as this, land and items in the game are also represented by NFTs and can be traded across the Etherium blockchain, typically using the Ronin bridge to speed up transactions.
This has led to a secondary market of Axie breeders selling their newly bred Axies to other players, as well as people cashing out Smooth Love Potion into other cryptocurrencies, allowing some people to earn a living in the process.
This is not the only game to do this, with the sandbox game Decentraland also distributing its in-game items as NFTs that are accessed in the game by linking a wallet to them.
This is a different approach to free NFTs in that whilst art collections or collections of avatars give away free tokens as a way to generate interest, many blockchain games need to use free NFTs as a way to manage game components and necessary access to a relevant game.
Other blockchain games, such as NFT games that resemble collectable card games, do not necessarily need to provide free NFTs, but will often do so and provide gameplay benefits for people who receive them.