For roughly two years, OpenSea has been the dominant NFT marketplace. In many ways, the OpenSea experience has lived up to its name: vast, inescapable and uniform in appearance, with page after page of colorful images floating by like so much debris on a sea of digital ownership.
Rarible (CRYPTO: RARI) doesn’t have OpenSea’s market dominance, but it is an innovator among marketplaces. Since the launch of its open protocol in 2021, Rarible has focused less on being a single destination for buying NFTs and more on being the means to help people everywhere mint and transact NFTs better.
In an exclusive with Benzinga, Rarible announced Friday that it will soon launch a new custom marketplace for Pixel Vault, a Web3 development platform that has produced popular NFT lines and associated IP for properties such as PUNKS Comics and Metaheroes.
The Pixel Vault marketplace will serve as a home for its properties. It will provide a customized user experience that supports the value of its PUNKS Comics and Metahero brands, aggregates all valid listings and offers reduced transaction fees.
We spoke to Rarible co-founder and Chief Product Officer Alex Salnikov and David Litsk, head of communications at Pixel Vault, about the upcoming new marketplace and creating customized, community-focused NFT-buying experiences.
Image: Used with permission from Issue #3 of PUNKS Comics. This is the moment where PUNKS crosses over with the Metahero Universe.
BZ: What is Rarible’s goal here working with Pixel Vault?
“We are super impressed by the Pixel Vault team’s innovativeness. Creator companies like Pixel Vault are evolving into multimedia businesses, like the
Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) of the digital world. It feels weird if you’re a big company, which has created tons of IP, and you’re sending buyers to some centralized marketplace controlled from a single office,” Salnikov said.
“Rarible offers a protocol that is open source and decentralized. We have a vision of all big intellectual property companies having their own marketplaces, built on top of the protocol, so they control the experience. The marketplace is available on their own website, in their own domain, with their branding, on the infrastructure that is decentralized and that they have a stake in. So that’s why we approached the Pixel Vault. We also grant them some governance rights for the protocol it’s built on, to make it truly a shareable piece of infrastructure.”
What has been Pixel Vault’s trajectory since its launch in May 2022?
“Pixel Vault aims to be the world’s first multi-franchise Web3 beta development platform. So the best way to explain how our ecosystem looks today is there are two separate IP pillars. We have PUNKS Comics, which was born out of the desire to bring NFT entities to life — and that began with the 16 CryptoPunks that were reimagined by Chris Wahl. And that’s what created the 16 Punx characters. Then with the Metahero universe expansion, it’s ultimately a decentralized and community-governed social gaming platform. And there are multiple pieces to it. Metahero has both the core and generative identities, which are PFPs, that will also be usable in the upcoming gaming experience. The planets represent nine planets and one moon where the Metahero characters exist. And each token represents one vote for planetary governance in a social gaming platform launching soon. So that is the updated platform. We’re hoping to see that launch within the next couple of weeks,” Litsky said.
Why aren’t more big NFT creators using customized marketplaces?
“There are a lot of eyeballs looking at the big marketplaces, and if you’re traded there, there is a chance that somebody else will find your collection. So your listings get a higher chance of being sold. And when you buy, you have a higher chance of buying something at a lower price.
“We offer the chance for projects to build their own marketplaces that aggregate listings from everywhere. So when users go to the project’s website, they will find all of their assets, including those cross-listed from other marketplaces. If you go to the Pixel Vault’s site, you will see everything that is on sale on OpenSea and everything that is on sale on Rarible,” Salnikov said.
What makes Pixel Vault a good partner for this custom marketplace?
“They are one of the core collections that actually have a big need for a customized marketplace because they have so many collections, divided by sub-collections, comics, one type of assets and another type. There is no specific section of the OpenSea website that you click on to see all the Pixel Vault collections. Because Pixel Vault is very innovative, they need their own custom solution that reflects all of their assets,” Salnikov said.
Has Pixel Vault always visualized itself as an IP holder first and foremost?
“Yes, that’s how it’s always been visualized. Many of the projects that came up over the past year started with a profile picture or as a comic, but this has always been the path,” Litsky said.
What were the advantages of working with Rarible to create your custom marketplace?
“One of the benefits of working with Rarible is it allows for heavy customization. I don’t know if there are any other products out there that would be able to handle the heavy customization that Pixel Vault needed to build the right experience for its collectors.
“The Pixel Vault ecosystem is complex. And having a custom community marketplace will allow us to curate how we show our various collections to our collectors to make it easier for them to find exactly what that they’re looking for. Without having a custom marketplace, it’s very hard to curate that with the standalone solutions that are currently out there. As a media and IP company, we tell stories, and there will be more stories to tell besides what we’re currently focusing on as we look down the road,” Litsky said.
What should people be getting excited about now that 2022 has taken some of the rampant enthusiasm out of the NFT market?
“They should be excited about all the new technologies that are being built. There’s a marriage happening between multiple blockchains. So, there is actually a lot of brewing happening behind the scenes. A year from now, we will suddenly have some areas growing as if from nowhere, bringing in new innovation. And people who stay during the bear market and carefully listen to what’s happening will be rewarded for buying underappreciated assets that are long-term sustainable,” Salnikov said.
Have you seen any changes in buyer behavior during the downturn?
“We can see many retail buyers leaving for safer assets. But I can definitely spot the professional trader trend. Hedge funds that have been trading crypto, stocks and bonds are now starting to develop for teams that will trade NFTs. That’s a good thing because the market will become much more liquid. And retail investors and buyers are going to have to compete with that. That means it will be much harder to earn money on the market because professionals will definitely take some of the margin for themselves,” Salnikov said.
Any advice for true believers in the NFT space?
“Recently, I spoke to a fellow founder, and he told me about an adventure park in Dubai where every attraction has a note on how to best experience it. And it said something like, “[keep your] butt up and sit tight.” So that would be my advice to all the true believers,” Salnikov said.
The Last Word
Rarible isn’t the first marketplace we’ve spoken to that is expanding through small, specialized marketplaces. A few months ago, we wrote about >SuperRare Spaces, which have many of the same intentions.
While SuperRare developed marketplaces that serve specific interests, such as poetry and female artists, Rarible is focused on serving the needs of established, proven NFT collections with complex IP to manage.
Rarible has potentially the more straightforward case for the need for a custom marketplace — helping creators that otherwise have trouble presenting their multimedia, multi-storyline universe as a single, consistent experience.
And while other marketplaces use the star power of notable people and media outside of the NFT space to attract attention, Rarible can rely on the popularity of the project itself to attract attention to the new custom marketplaces.
Examples of other custom marketplaces that have already launched on the Rarible Protocol all serve established, multifaceted NFT and IP projects, including MFers, Degenerate Ape Academy and Rektguy.
The Pixel Vault marketplace will include the following collections: PUNKS Comic 1, 2, and 3, Origin Stories, Metahero Universe: Core Identities, Metahero Universe: Generative Identities, Metahero Universe: United Planets, Metahero Universe: Gear Pods, Metahero: MintPass 1, Metahero: MintPass 2, Pixel Vault Founder’s DAO, PV IRL, Elite Ape Coins, Elite Apes – Apes Out on the Town, Ape Madness, Heroes Follow Heroes and Bloot Comic.
Pixel Vault is not ready to share many details about its game development timeline. Still, they have previously shared that they are looking for some type of Alpha or Beta test “roughly by the end of the year.”