The third annual NFT.NYC conference, a leading Web3 event that has been an indicator of the crypto market’s performance since its inception in 2018, ran from April 12-14. Following a year of high-profile scandals like the collapse of FTX and the extended “Crypto Winter,” observers kept a close eye on this year’s NFT.NYC event to gauge the mood of the most ardent proponents of the NFT space.
Boasting 180 different events spread across three days, the gathering aimed to harness the energy and idea-sharing that have at times defined the crypto and NFT space. However, the jury is still out whether this year’s installment signalled a new chapter in Web3 technology or represented a swan song for the NFT market, which in recent months has largely been overshadowed by the tech industry’s shiny new thing, generative AI.
From NFT treasure hunts to a Web3-based sci-fi TV series, the event did succeed in demonstrating that there is still new life in NFTs and Web3 technology, showcasing new ways to integrate digital assets into real-world experiences. For example, Gmoney’s 9dcc Treasure Hunt and Jeremy Booth’s NFC-chipped Wrangler jacket showed that NFTs can create engaging social experiences, while the growing presence of Bitcoin NFTs indicated that the adoption and appeal of digital assets still have room to grow.
Yet the mood at NFT.NYC 2023 was not completely positive all the time. Attempts to energize the audience at the event’s launch were subdued, indicating a possible hollowing-out of the NFT world as the merely interested depart and mostly diehards remain. At the NFT100 Gala, Matt Medved, co-founder of Web3 media company nft now, attempted to rally the crowd, but empty seats dotted the tables, and conversations were dominated by discussions of the upcoming tax season. Attendees appeared to be accepting the reality of the current market downturn.
The fact of the matter is simple: NFT sales have declined by 77 percent in the past year, and the community has largely reverted to its original constituents: dedicated digital artists, true believers in cryptocurrency, and the occasional venture capitalist. This year, with a few exceptions, the flamboyance of previous years’ NFT.NYC conferences was noticeably absent, replaced by a more somber mood.
The creative potential of NFTs continues to inspire, but the market’s future remains uncertain. The answer to whether the event marks a fresh start for Web3 or a last hurrah for the NFT market may only be revealed in the coming months as the broader crypto landscape evolves and — possibly — values bottom out. Until then, the NFT and Web3 community must continue to innovate, adapt, and embrace new opportunities to ensure long-term viability and, ideally, attract rather than alienate new audiences.