- Non-fungible tokens are unique crypto tokens that are not interchangeable
- The ERC-721 token standard for non-fungible tokens was introduced by AxiomZen developer Dietery Shirley
The concept of a non-fungible token (NFT) has been ingrained into the minds of developers, investors, and users in the Ethereum community ever since the world discovered the moderately popular CryptoKitties game.¹ Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies and tokens, which typically aim to be fungible, NFTs are specifically created to be unique and thus not interchangeable.
While the concept of a non-fungible crypto token is not new, since 2014, users could leverage CounterParty to create NFTs on Bitcoin’s blockchain, Ethereum’s ERC-721 token standard and the rise of CryptoKitties brought NFTs into the limelight. After Dieter Shirley of AxiomZen, proposed the ERC-721 non-fungible token standard, we saw an eruption of games, collectibles, and infrastructure built around the NFT ecosystem.
The Block has mapped out the Non-Fungible Token ecosystem in Ethereum and its three branches.
Games and collectibles follow the ERC-721 standard to create tokens that users can interact with. Projects in this sector range from simple trading card-like collectibles like Crypto Baseball to action role-playing games like Chibi Fighters. Blockchain gaming studios build and deploy NFT games and collectibles.
Marketplaces enable the buying and selling of NFTs. These platforms allow users to list and auction NFTs that they currently own. Additionally, users can browse, discover, and buy NFTs for sale.
Projects in this sector provide the needed infrastructure for developers to build and interact with NFTs. These projects include pre-built ecosystems like Decentraland, where developers can purchase digital land and build projects on top of them, and BitCrystals, where developers can create, issue, and manager their own NFTs.
¹ While there are NFTs in other blockchains like EOS and TRON, Ethereum’s ecosystem is by far the most mature. Thus this piece and map will focus on Ethereum.