NFT releases are far more than NFT drops, and the most successful projects by the time they land on your marketplace of choice are the result of carefully planned roadmaps, incentivisation, community building, trust and added value.
The ways in which non-fungible tokens have been released have changed dramatically even just over the past few years as the market has undergone dramatic changes and reached audiences it never had previously.
Because the NFT format is particularly versatile and the tokens can be used in a variety of different ways, there have emerged several unique types of NFT release strategies that have been used by different creators to work towards their particular aims.
In this guide, we are going to explore what a “typical” NFT release can look like, as well as some unique examples and stories of projects that used or attempted to use rather more unique release and marketing strategies.
Types Of NFT Drop
Much has been said about how NFTs are created and distributed on the creator side, but the short version is that most NFTs are made by creating a piece of representative art, designing a “smart contract” (code that manages access, identification and secondary market royalties) and paying the fees to have it placed on the blockchain.
Because it is a relatively simple process in concept, there are lots of NFT types, each of which tends to have its own unique method of distribution.
The first type of drop is a bulk drop or pre-sale, where a set number of NFTs are minted (either by the creator or by people who buy in early) before being sold to whoever buys (or claims) them first.
This is the method Cryptopunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club used initially, with the former offering free (so long as you pay the gas fees) NFTs until the collection had been claimed before they started to accrue in value.
A variation of this is an open mint or Open Edition drop, where instead of limiting NFTs by volume, an artist (or buyers through a pre-sale system) will mint as many NFTs as possible within a given timeframe, and once that ends that will be the final number of NFTs, theoretically matching demand to supply.
Finally, there are the more traditional auction-style formats, which tend to be special cases and used for very small collections or single NFTs.
An English Auction, for example, starts with an initial bidding price and people bid up until there is only one person left in the auction, who then wins the NFT for that price.
A lot of the huge sales in the marketplace, such as the Beeples sale that kickstarted a lot of the mainstream interest in NFTs, use old-money auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s who tend to deal in fine art, jewellery and rare spirits.
Finally, and relatively rarely, there is the Dutch Auction system, which is a reverse auction where a price drops the longer the auction lasts, similar to the format of Price Drop TV.
Most of the time, this is used for a single item, but can also be used to sell a collection, where the prices keep lowering until the final item is sold.
Telling An NFT Story
These methods above are just the mechanics behind releasing an NFT for sale, however. There are so many other elements to consider before starting the minting process to ensure that they are a success.
The first is setting up a clear white paper and roadmap, with a start point, end goal and all of the steps along the way. Many roadmaps have multiple stages, with the first including the NFT sale, before adding functionality and extra value along the way.
Because these are such an important part of any decision to buy an NFT, a roadmap is an essential part of any reputable NFT project and will often be the first piece of information an investor will check if they are seriously considering buying into a particular collection.
A lot of these are relatively straightforward lists of milestones, quarterly plans and sometimes goals achieved once certain percentages of a collection are sold, depending on the nature of the investment.
Some are relatively more abstract, such as Azuki’s “Mindmap”, which instead of being time-based groups its many different goals into categories that it then progresses within, which makes more sense for PFP and art-based NFT projects.
As well as this, there is the importance of establishing a community to help share and spread this project, its story and the values behind it, to the point that some projects have community goals as well as sale goals.
There are of course other ways to generate attention for an NFT project as well, some of which work better than others.
One of the most infamous examples of these is the trailer video for Cryptoland, an ambitious project to tie NFTs into ownership of a parcel of land on an island in Fiji.
Whilst this generated a lot of attention, the “Why Paper” and its roadmap were heavily criticised for a lack of clarity and realistic timescales, to the point that many people assumed the project was for a Decentraland-style metaverse game and not to buy a real island.
As well as this, there was no expression of the likely cost of actually setting up an island in the South Pacific Ocean and all of the legal and infrastructural considerations that go into developing an island people will live and work on.
Other release strategies include airdrops for community members, giveaways, and surprises.
It is very important to use this pre-release period to ensure that everything is set for the day when the NFTs are minted, to avoid what happened to the popular NFT game Wolf Game.
Wolf Game is an NFT game where every aspect of it is held on-chain rather than being used as an authentication for a game held on a server or using a client, which meant that when a vulnerability in a smart contract was discovered, every NFT needed to be replaced, which the team did set up a system for.