The Ultimate Guide to CryptoCubes: A Metaverse-Native Collection

CryptoCubes are more than NFTs; they’re more than art; they’re more than an experimental digital collection. They’re a piece of digital art history. They’re an experiment. And they’re a philosophical exploration of what it means to be “on-chain.”

The CryptoCubes collection is one of the first examples of generative 3D art, meaning they are algorithmically generated and now fully stored on the Ethereum blockchain. They’re not linked to external servers—they are pure code that creates unique shapes, colors, and patterns. NFT enthusiasts know how rare and challenging it is to do this successfully in 2023 and beyond.

CryptoCubes did it in 2020.

They sold in waves of 50 until 256 NFTs were sold, denoting the number of integers in the RGB color code. At the time of writing, the floor price for a CryptoCube is 6.8 ETH on OpenSea, with a total sales volume of nearly 2,002 ETH.

How did such an innovative project come to fruition so far ahead of other 3D on-chain generated art projects? In large part because of its creator, Han Saglam.

What are CryptoCubes?

Every CryptoCube is a result of a unique generation process, which Han created. According to his “Genesis” Medium article from September 2020, which explained the then-forthcoming collection, CryptoCubes are “algorithmically generated volumetric abstractions[…]each CryptoCube is a unique output.”

Despite the algorithmic inspiration for each CryptoCube, the final collection of 256 CryptoCubes is the outcome of Han’s careful curation and artistic vision. The CryptoCubes playground allows users to animate the CryptoCubes and use them in 3D metaverse environments like OnCyber. 

Among the infinite possibilities that the algorithm presented, Han selected the 256 that best represented his vision for CryptoCubes. When he spoke to nft now about the collection, he said, “When people ask me how many cubes I generated, I can only respond: ‘a lot.’”

Credit: nft now

Why cubes? Because to Han, the cube is a symbol of digital creation. “The cube is a human-made shape; you can’t find it in nature,” said Han. “Its artificiality defines it in the digital world.”

Cubes are also the building blocks of the digital world. They embody both simplicity and complexity, serving as the foundational elements from which intricate digital environments and creations can be constructed. Han cites Minecraft, the massively popular sandbox game, as an example of the creative possibilities with cubes. “Minecraft looks simple: it’s just a bunch of blocks. But what people create with those blocks is complex.”

A team spent 10 years building Middle-Earth from Lord of the Rings in Minecraft. | Credit: Minecraft Middle-earth

Similar to Minecraft, with CryptoCubes, Han begins with something simple—literally a building block—and invites others to use it as a canvas for their creativity.

Who Created CryptoCubes?

Han isn’t new to the world of NFTs. He’s been involved in two other projects that showcased his passion for the experimental convergences of the aesthetic and the algorithmic, the geometric and the organic, the digital and the physical. An ardent music aficionado with a particular love for piano, Han sees art and technology as an intricate dance between input and output. “The output, whether visual or audio, is as important as the technology that creates it,” he says.

To that end, he created another project, AlgoRhythms, which he developed in collaboration with digital artist Nicolas Daniel. Curated by Art Blocks, the project was a collection of 1,000 generative audio-visual data sculptures, meaning the NFTs themselves played algorithmically-generated musical notes. This project was later followed up with AlgoBeats. AlgoBeats was also a  collaboration between Nicolas and Han. Together, they’ve developed a unique digital music box that fuses the systematic approach of programming with the dynamics of music. While their previous project, AlgoRhythms, focused on music scales, AlgoBeats delves into uncharted rhythms and sounds. It’s designed as a creative tool for musicians, especially in the blockchain realm, and boasts interactive easter eggs for users.

That led him to LightOnChain, a groundbreaking installation that bridged the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Han financed this ambitious project entirely from his crypto earnings, overseeing everything from contracting to installation. LightOnChain was an NFT-powered light installation located in a Turkish town called Kaplankaya. The collection consisted of 660 physical lights that were connected to blockchain-connected hardware.

The installation allowed people to send transactions that could change the brightness, amplitude, frequency, and exact light in the physical world. It was a way of interacting with the blockchain in a tangible and visible way. When he built it, Han says he wasn’t aware it was considered one of the first examples of a physical version of NFTs. Firsts have become second nature for him at this point.

Han does everything with CryptoCubes himself; the way he likes it. Just as a piano performance is the intimate act of one person, so is his relationship with CryptoCubes: a singular, independent opus of creative and technical artistry.

How to buy a CryptoCube NFT

To join fellow CryptoCubes holders Erick Snowfro, VonMises6529 FundPablo, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, you can buy your own on OpenSea or SuperRare. According to Saglam, the value of a CryptoCube is multifaceted. First, there’s the historical significance. “It’s one of the first examples of 3D generative collection that is currently on-chain,” he says. “It’s a milestone in the history of digital art.”

But owning a CryptoCube isn’t just about owning a piece of history. It’s also about owning a piece of potential.

“CryptoCubes aren’t static. They’re dynamic and interactive. You can use them in different ways in the digital realm, such as creating your own compositions with them. Every day is a new evolution.” Han mused.

CryptoCube holder Reuben Wu’s unique creation with his cube.

CryptoCubes Creators

Driven by this desire to inspire individual creativity in the same vein as Minecraft, Han created CryptoCubes Creators. The initiative invites artists to infuse their unique flair into the CryptoCubes’ aesthetic and ethos. Each creator picks a CryptoCube number and uses that specific cube to construct their own artwork in their unique style.

Every three months, Han collaborates with a new set of artists. So far, over 100 different artists have participated in this project, including notables like Erick Snowfro, Claire Silver, Refik Anadol, Fvckrender, Rik Oostenbroek, and DeeKay, whose piece titled Right-Click Savers sold for $200,000.

In selecting artists for collaboration, Han goes beyond name recognition, “I focus on curating and inviting the artists who are nft native, and have helped shape the nft scene.”

The future of CryptoCubes

Han isn’t satisfied with what he’s achieved so far. He wants to challenge his technical abilities and push the boundaries of on-chain art.

He cares about this mission because, to him, 100 percent on-chain art because it is more secure, transparent, and authentic than its off-chain counterparts, which rely on external servers that can be compromised. “On-chain art,” he says, “will live for as long as Ethereum lives.”

Creating on-chain artwork isn’t easy. Han has to work out the technical details of compressing source code to fit into a single transaction without losing image quality. But that’s what Han does: he finds interesting technical problems and solves them.

“As we evolve better infrastructures, compression algorithms, and scaling solutions, we’ll be able to get more complex data on-chain. Then we’ll really see what’s possible with on-chain art.”

We also invite you to check out Han’s latest project, where he creates distinctive artworks, crafted using Javascript and GLSL shaders, and resides fully onchain. Each piece, a true 1 of 1, is encapsulated in its own smart contract, making it self-contained for sales and unalterable.

The next CryptoCubes Creators drop will be in the following months. You can follow the Hanrgb, CryptoCubes Twitter for updates.

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Google Play Store Opens Its Doors to NFTs in a Major Policy Shift

Google has announced an update to its Play Store policies, now allowing apps and games that incorporate NFTs onto its platform. This move marks a continued shift in the company’s attitude towards blockchain-based technology.

Under the new rules, games that use tokenized assets will need to clearly state their use of blockchain elements. In an effort to foster responsible use, Google will prevent developers from glamorizing potential earnings derived from NFTs. The policy also extends to banning any “loot box” mechanisms in line with their anti-gambling stance.

Reddit, which recently found major success with its Avatar NFTs, partnered with Google to shape the policy. “We partnered with Google to help update their policy, aimed at creating a level playing field that promotes user trust and responsible usage of blockchain technology,” said Matt Williamson, Senior Engineering Manager at Reddit, in a press release.

The policy change follows a history of Google taking a hard stance against blockchain-based apps. In 2018, Google banned crypto mining apps, which remain prohibited. More recently, Google kicked the blockchain-based game “Bitcoin Blast” off the Play Store in 2021.

However, the company signaled a new direction by allowing ArDrive Mobile, a decentralized data storage app, on its platform in 2022 and listing the blockchain game Axie Infinity: Origins in select markets.

Google Cloud also announced an initiative in April 2023 to help Web3 developers expedite their startups built on Polygon Protocols.

In comparison, Apple’s App Store allows NFTs but continues to restrict the use of NFTs to unlock content, and alternative payment methods like cryptocurrency, affirming its stance in late 2022.

Google’s move towards embracing NFTs may herald a new era of blockchain integration in mainstream tech, but the broader industry’s reaction remains to be seen.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Coinbase Introduces Encrypted Messaging Feature to Crypto Wallet

On July 12, Crypto exchange Coinbase announced the launch of a new messaging feature for its wallet that allows any two Ethereum addresses to communicate. Powered by the XMTP protocol, the encrypted messaging service will first be available to a small subset of users, including all Lens protocol users and anyone who scans the QR code featured in this video.

The messaging feature will support the 1.3 million Ethereum addresses using the wallet that are human-readable and/or ENS-enabled.

“Messaging on Coinbase Wallet is end-to-end encrypted, private, and portable. It allows you to connect directly through your wallet, engage with your communities, [and] send payments across thousands of coins,” read Coinbase’s press release. Beyond conventional communication, the messaging feature also empowers NFT and POAP holders to directly connect with others who own the same assets. This ability could foster new connections that would have been difficult to establish otherwise.

But this messaging capability isn’t merely an innovative feature or utility. It serves as a crucial security measure. It helps prevent common issues like accidental crypto transactions to the wrong address, false claims of .eth name ownership, and fraudulent profiles on social media claiming wallet addresses they don’t own. It also allows users to confirm wallet addresses without having to send a small balance to verify.

Importantly, these chats are interoperable and can be transferred to any XMTP-compatible app at any time. Users wishing to use this feature need the Coinbase Wallet mobile app and a .lens account. Once you’ve downloaded or imported your wallet, you’ll find a QR code in your inbox located on the “Assets” tab in the Coinbase Wallet app.

Since its inception as a mobile app in 2017, Coinbase Wallet has been consistently upgraded, introducing features like transaction previews and flags for potentially malicious smart contracts. This comes despite the SEC’s legal action against Coinbase in June, primarily targeting the wallets and their compliance with regulatory structures.

Undeterred, Coinbase continues to enhance its wallet offerings, striving to maintain its position at the forefront of the crypto landscape.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Anthropic Reveals Claude 2, a Powerful AI ChatBot That Could Rival ChatGPT

Anthropic, an AI firm founded by former OpenAI researchers, has revealed its updated chatbot Claude 2, which aims to take on rivals ChatGPT and Google Bard. The new model boasts impressive features such as a higher token limit, improved coding skills, and a public-facing beta website.

The creators ambitiously describe Claude as a “friendly, enthusiastic colleague or personal assistant who can be instructed in natural language to help you with many tasks.” They may be right. Claude 2 can handle 100,000 tokens per prompt, meaning it can engage with content as long as a 75,000-word book, far surpassing Claude 1.0’s 9,000 token limit and Bard and ChatGPT4’s 8,192 token limits.

Claude 2’s expanded capabilities are reflected in its test results. The chatbot scored 76.5 percent on the multiple-choice section of the Bar exam and ranked in the 90th percentile in the GRE reading and writing exams. The chatbot’s coding skills are also advanced, with a 71.2 percent score on a Python coding test.

But Claude 2 isn’t just about smart engagement and complex tasks; it also emphasizes safety. Anthropic has strived to make Claude more harmless and resistant to generating offensive or potentially dangerous outputs. This update comes just five months after the debut of Claude 1.0.

The developers have designed Claude with a unique “constitution” inspired by the UN Declaration of Human Rights and DeepMind’s Sparrow principles. This set of rules allows the chatbot to self-improve, identify inappropriate behavior, and adapt its conduct without human feedback.

Beyond its immediate functional use, Claude 2 has broader implications in the field of digital art and creation. For instance, the use of AI like ChatGPT in projects such as the Turbo meme coin and lore building for Forgotten Runes demonstrates AI’s creative potential. The advent of Claude 2 signifies another step in this journey of text, visual, and video-based AI artwork, benefiting the entire ecosystem.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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OnChain Studios Launches Kid-Safe Chatbot for NFTs

OnChain Studios, the company behind Cryptoys kid-friendly NFTs, is taking a step forward to ensure safe interactions with its digital products. The firm is set to integrate a child-safe AI chatbot, known as ChatGuardian, into its network to help kids have safe, engaging, and entertaining conversations with their NFT characters.

The studio has been developing this unique feature for two years, which will be first incorporated into its popular Zoo-F-O collection. OnChain Studios, which made headlines last year when it raised $23 million from heavyweight investors such as a16z, Dapper Labs, and Mattel, will roll out ChatGuardian to adult collectors, with the second release targeted specifically towards children.

ChatGuardian allows parents to log into a control center and restrict the usage of certain keywords and topics, thereby enabling a safe digital environment for kids. The aim is to help children interact directly with their virtual toys while also exposing them to digital ownership and NFT mechanics. This approach might prove to be a significant step in familiarizing the younger generation with these digital concepts, which are often complex even for adults to navigate.

While speaking with Tech Crunch in 2022, OnChain Studios CEO Will Weinraub emphasized the importance of taking “baby steps to get millions and millions of people to these new paradigms.” In that way, ChatGuardian may be a small yet significant step in that direction, helping introduce children to the world of digital assets in a manner that is both safe and fun.

Aside from its Zoo-F-O collection, Cryptoys has also created kid-friendly NFT drops based on Mattel’s He-Man franchise, as well as Star Wars.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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EU Issues New Crypto Guidelines As It Eyes “Web4”

The European Union has laid out the first significant powers under its forthcoming Markets in Crypto Assets Law (MiCA), a set of stringent guidelines poised to reshape the cryptocurrency landscape within the 27-nation bloc. The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a detailed proposal outlining how EU crypto companies should be authorized under the law, extending from user complaints handling to conflict of interest management.

Specifically, stablecoin issuers find themselves under intense scrutiny, as the MiCA directives implicitly draw lessons from the notorious collapses of USDT and FTX. The regulations stipulate that to operate within the EU under a single MiCA license, companies issuing stablecoins must meet certain requirements. These include demonstrating clear segregation of client funds and crypto assets from the company’s own account and detailing the security of their systems, particularly with regard to distributed ledger technology.

The new measures come amidst the European Commission’s (EC) ambitious push into “Web4,” a concept blending blockchain technology with artificial intelligence, the internet of things, virtual worlds, and extended reality capabilities. Two key projects underpin this effort: CitiVerse, an immersive urban environment aimed at revolutionizing city planning and management, and the European Virtual Human Twin, which seeks to create a digital replica of the human body to advance medical treatments and disease management.

The MiCA regulations — agreed upon in 2022 but not taking effect until 2024 — as well as the EU’s Web4 ambitions, emerge as part of a broader EC strategy to support EU-based creators, media companies, developers, and more. The aim is to establish a regulatory framework comparable to MiCA for these innovative ventures, driven by recommendations from the Virtual Worlds citizen panel in April this year.

These developments highlight the EU’s concerted effort to balance fostering innovation with maintaining market integrity and consumer protection. As crypto assets gain traction and the frontier of digital technology expands into the EC’s definition of Web4, it remains to be seen how these regulations will shape the future of the European digital economy.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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New York Computer Security Engineer Indicted in $9 Million DeFi Fraud

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has indicted Shakeeb Ahmed, a computer security engineer based in New York, for defrauding a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange of $9 million. The DEX, operating on the Solana blockchain, remains unnamed in the indictment, but the details mirror the July 2022 Crema Finance hack.

Stealing (and laundering) millions

Ahmed allegedly exploited a vulnerability in one of the DEX’s smart contracts, inserting fraudulent pricing data that resulted in the generation of inflated fees, amounting to approximately $9 million. He was also accused of utilizing “flash loans” to further defraud the exchange, reportedly borrowing millions of dollars, then depositing them in the DEX’s liquidity pool, and subsequently withdrawing the funds, claiming a hefty percentage as fees.

The indictment also alleges that Ahmed attempted to launder the stolen funds through intricate transfers across blockchains and international exchanges. He tried bridging funds from Solana to Ethereum and even exchanged the illicit proceeds into Monero, a cryptocurrency well-known for its high level of anonymity and difficulty to trace.

“Can I cross the border with crypto?”

Intriguingly, two days following the attack, Ahmed conducted internet searches for “DeFi hack” and read news articles on his own hack. His search history also included inquiries for “wire fraud” and “evidence laundering.” Moreover, Ahmed seemingly explored escape routes, conducting searches regarding his ability to flee the U.S., avoid extradition, and protect his stolen assets. His searches included phrases like “can I cross border with crypto,” “how to stop federal government from seizing assets,” and “buying citizenship.”

Following the hack, Ahmed reportedly proposed a deal to return the majority of the stolen funds to the exchange, holding back $1.5 million for himself, in exchange for the DEX not reporting the incident to law enforcement. His offer also included enlightening the DEX on their technical vulnerabilities.

This case follows another DOJ indictment of blockchain fraud in the same week related to NFTs. Ahmed now faces charges of wire fraud and money laundering, with a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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DOJ Charges Man in $450,000 OpenSea Spoofing Scam

Soufiane Oulahyane, a Moroccan national, has been indicted by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for allegedly creating an OpenSea lookalike to obtain unauthorized access to cryptocurrency and NFTs.

The charges revolve around a scheme known as “spoofing,” a form of fraud where the perpetrator creates a lookalike of a trusted website to steal user credentials. According to the indictment, Oulahyane meticulously crafted a fraudulent copy of the popular NFT marketplace, then used paid advertisements to make his sham site appear first in search results for “OpenSea.” When the user entered their login information on the deceptive platform, their credentials were transmitted to an email account controlled by Oulahyane.

The scheme allegedly unfolded in September 2021 and resulted in significant theft. The primary victim, an NFT owner based in Manhattan, unwittingly handed his seed phrase — a string of words that control access to a cryptocurrency wallet — to the spoofed site. Oulahyane reportedly used this phrase to transfer the contents of the victim’s wallet to himself, selling 39 NFTs, including a Bored Ape that the victim had purchased for approximately 49 ETH.

Credit: Yuga Labs

The indictment further details how Oulahyane allegedly sold a Meebit and a Bored Ape Kennel Club NFT from the victim’s wallet. The victim had originally purchased these NFTs for 9.88 ETH and 6 ETH, respectively. Oulahyane allegedly sold the stolen NFTs on the legitimate OpenSea marketplace, then transferred the fraudulent cryptocurrency proceeds to a wallet beyond the victim’s control, bringing the total value of the stolen digital collectibles to approximately $450,000.

Oulahyane is currently in custody in Morocco, facing charges of wire fraud and the use of an unauthorized access device for aggravated identity theft. If found guilty, he could face up to 47 years in prison.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Krapopolis, Fox’s Blockchain-Backed Animated Series, Sets Premiere Date

Fox Entertainment’s Krapopolis, the highly anticipated blockchain-backed animated series created by Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick and Morty, has announced a premiere date of September 24, 2023.

Krapopolis is the first project from Blockchain Creative Labs, the media and creative tech arm of Fox Entertainment, whose mission is to “forge the future of content creation, distribution, and monetization through connecting creators and communities with blockchain technology.”

Set in mythical ancient Greece, Krapopolis follows a flawed family of humans, gods, and monsters striving to run one of the world’s first cities without killing each other. Since August 2022, fans have had the chance to purchase Krap Chickens, a series of 10,420 NFTs that until recently have offered nebulous show-related access. Now it’s clear that these digital assets not only allow holders to view behind-the-scenes content but also permit them to attend exclusive in-person events, vote on the show’s direction, and purchase affiliated merchandise. In a unique twist, viewers can participate interactively in the series via the Krapopolis Krap Chicken Fan Pass NFT.

Krapopolis was first announced in Spring 2021 during a surge in the NFT market. But Harmon initially signed with Fox to create a blockchain-based animated series in the summer of 2020. In a show of faith in the project, Fox invested a whopping $100 million into its Web3 arm, despite the eventual NFT market downturn. In an unprecedented move for original IP, Fox even greenlit three seasons of Krapopolis before a single episode aired.

Through Krapopolis, Blockchain Creative Labs and Fox Entertainment present a compelling new model that combines fan engagement, content creation, and distribution. They aim to transform viewers from passive consumers into active participants. Whether this innovative approach will inspire a new era of content creation and consumption is yet to be seen, but the excitement for the premiere is undeniable.

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SimWin Sports Launches New AI-Powered Virtual Football League

SimWin Sports, the interactive platform renowned for its AI-driven fantasy sports, is expanding its horizons with the launch of a new virtual fantasy football league. In a bold move fusing fantasy sports, esports, and NFTs, the league will have virtual teams in action round-the-clock, offering an immersive experience for both casual sports fans and experienced players.

An exciting feature of this initiative is the celebrity line-up that will coach some of these virtual teams. Among the notable names are Jerry Rice, Marshall Faulk, Tracy McGrady, and NBA legend Magic Johnson. Johnson’s association with SimWin Sports, initially as a team owner, investor, and advisor, has been an active part of the platform since June 2022.

Perhaps most intriguingly, fans won’t merely spectate; they’ll own and manage their virtual teams. With the power to train their teams, fans can gain profits from player salaries, sponsorships, and shared revenue. SimWin even allows customers to scout and develop virtual college players, guiding them through various career milestones, including finding an agent and retirement.

In an interview with Decrypt, SimWin’s President and CMO, Tom Goedde, underlined the uniqueness of this project, saying, “It’s one of the few, possibly only, Web3 experiences where you don’t have to sell your digital assets in order to make money.”

The platform uses AI to train teams and execute fan-determined plays, a feature that not only enhances realism but also serves as a check against cheating and match-throwing.

This initiative comes on the heels of SimWin’s strategic partnership with Sports Illustrated, announced earlier this year. The company’s CEO, David J. Ortiz (no relation to MLB hall of famer David Ortiz), stated the partnership’s intent to “bridge our Web3 audience to the traditional sports universe” to Yahoo! Finance. The new football league is a significant stride in that direction.

But SimWin isn’t stopping at football. The company has ambitious plans to expand into soccer, basketball, and cricket, signaling a new era of digital sports engagement. With the promise of this unique blend of traditional sports, fantasy leagues, and virtual assets, SimWin Sports is poised to redefine the landscape of online sports and gaming.

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StepN Paves the Way for Gas Hero, a New Game From Find Satoshi Lab

Web3 development studio Find Satoshi Lab (FSL), famed for creating the move-and-earn lifestyle game StepN, has unveiled a new game: Gas Hero. They’re launching a competition called Shape the Legends, Share the Glory to commemorate the release. The competition urges community members to design their own version of the game’s NFTs — called Genesis Heroes — for a chance to win two percent creator royalty fees as well as a portion of the game’s utility token, $GMT.

This competition signals a possible shift in Web3 gaming, encouraging the participation of its players even before the game’s launch.

Gas Hero will be a strategic, socially-oriented Web3 game that invites players to guide their Gas Heroes through a post-apocalyptic world, building virtual bases and battling other players.

Credit: FSL Team

This latest project from FSL follows the success of their previous gaming venture, StepN, which recently became the first blockchain gaming app to integrate Apple Pay. According to Yawn Rong, co-founder of FSL, “Our first venture, StepN, highlighted how possible it is to bring millions of users in the Web3 space, and we hope Gas Hero will have the same impact as we continue to grow the FSL ecosystem.”

The competition runs in three phases over the course of three months: from July 10 to October 9.

The first phase, which ends on August 8, challenges participants to submit designs for a pre-selected list of character “codenames,” such as Ape Commander, Ascetic Monk, Combat Queen, Lone Werewolf, and others.

The contest will reward 20 winners for each codename, for a total of 320 winners per phase and 960 winners overall. Prizes include Genesis Hero NFT trading royalties, $GMT, and a co-branded Gas Hero and FSL t-shirt. The winners’ designs will also be featured on the official Gas Hero website.

To enter, visit the Gas Hero competition website.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Buterin Applauds Bitcoin Ordinals, Foresees Shift From “Laser-Eye Movement”

In a nearly two-hour-long Twitter Space on July 7, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin lauded the advent of Bitcoin Ordinals, heralding it as an “organic return of builder culture” to Bitcoin. This conversation, which also included Bitcoin advocates and Taproot Wizards stakeholders Eric Wall and Udi Wertheimer, revolved around the recent stirrings in the Bitcoin ecosystem caused by Ordinals.

A revitalized builder culture

Buterin said he believes Bitcoin Ordinals are a decisive push against “stagnant” politics within the Bitcoin network, suggesting an emerging proactive and constructive culture. Despite early cultural disruptions, he considers these changes to be ultimately necessary for progress within the Bitcoin community.

Addressing Bitcoin’s scalability issues and its challenges in processing medium-sized payments, Buterin put forward the idea of implementing different types of layer-2 solutions. Among these, he particularly supports rollups, a technology that consolidates multiple transactions into a single data entry before adding them to the blockchain. The rollup method has proven effective on Ethereum, as it enhances network efficiency by saving space, accelerating transaction speed, and reducing costs. He believes Bitcoin could benefit from such innovation.

Buterin also expressed his commendation for the BRC-20 token standard on Bitcoin. Comparable to the ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum, BRC-20 is an experimental token standard that facilitates the minting and trading of fungible tokens via Ordinals.

According to Buterin, these recent changes could instigate a renewed emphasis on tangible action within the Bitcoin network. They may counterbalance the “laser-eye movement,” a term used to describe a subset of the Bitcoin community that is singularly focused on Bitcoin, often to the exclusion of other blockchain protocols. This faction tends to perceive Bitcoin as the only significant player in Web3, dismissing other protocols and blockchains, particularly NFTs and Ethereum, as inferior.

Buterin’s comments point to an exciting future where Bitcoin, armed with a revitalized builder culture and an embrace of new technologies, continues to evolve and adapt in an ever-changing landscape.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Game Over for Sega NFTs? Gaming Giant Backtracks From Blockchain Plans

In a surprising turn of events, Japanese gaming giant Sega has announced its retreat from blockchain initiatives, fueled by concerns over the devaluation of its content. Sega had once been an advocate of blockchain-based gaming, notably filing for a “Sega NFT” trademark in Japan in December 2021.

However, co-chief operating officer Shuji Utsumi has expressed his disillusionment with the play-to-earn model of blockchain games, criticizing them as “boring” and “no fun,” according to an interview with Bloomberg.

A divided industry

The about-face comes on the heels of Sega’s partnership in late 2022 with Japanese studio DoubleJump.Tokyo to develop a blockchain-based card game on the Oasys Blockchain. The game was based on Sangokushi Taisen, a popular real-time strategy game typically played in Japanese arcades with physical cards. DoubleJump.Tokyo’s CEO, Hironobu Ueno, had previously championed the game for its ability to “solve obstacles for gamers, offer fast transactions and zero gas fees.”

Credit: Sega

This backtrack also marks a deviation from Sega’s “Super Game” project in 2022, which was perceived as an ambitious endeavor to move beyond traditional game frameworks, according to Utsumi.

Sega’s decision to pivot away from blockchain echoes similar sentiments seen in the wider gaming industry. Notably, Valve has prohibited blockchain technology on its gaming platform, Steam, as has independent platform Yet, the industry is anything but unanimous on this issue.

Sega’s withdrawal comes on the heels of Square Enix announcing a partnership with blockchain gaming platform Elixir to foster “visibility and adoption of Web3 games among traditional gamers.” Prior to his departure, then-president of Square Enix, Yosuke Matsuda, had declared “aggressive investment” into blockchain tech and NFTs as part of the company’s vision.

In another notable development, EA and Nike have partnered to bring dotSwoosh NFTs to future games, indicating that the gaming industry’s exploration of NFTs and blockchain is far from over.

The varied responses of major gaming companies to blockchain and NFT technologies are indicative of a rapidly evolving marketplace. As Sega pulls back, others are stepping up, making it clear that the industry is still figuring out how to best incorporate the tech into their business models. As these dynamics continue to unfold, we’ll get a clearer picture of who’s genuinely committed to the blockchain and NFT revolution in gaming.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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Coca-Cola Serbia and SolSea Team Up to Launch Branded NFTs

Coca-Cola Serbia is partnering with Solana NFT platform SolSea to present a unique NFT experience at the Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia through July 9. At the heart of this collaboration lies the Magic Mirror activation from NFT infrastructure protocol All.Art. This digital installation, which will be located in the Coca-Cola Serbia zone at the festival, promises to transform how attendees interact with brands and merchandise.

The Magic Mirror and more

As a participant stands in front of the Magic Mirror, they’re virtually dressed in a random selection of merchandise in real-time 3D. Capturing this moment is as simple as scanning a QR code, creating an instantly-shareable memento from the festival.

However, this fusion of technology and engagement goes beyond the Magic Mirror. Leveraging the capabilities of Solana’s SolSea and the All.Art, the trio has curated an exclusive collection of Coca-Cola-branded merchandise that adds to the festival’s allure. This includes 3D models of short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts and, most notably, a batch of 100 exclusive hoodies paired with corresponding NFTs.

This isn’t Coca-Cola’s first foray into NFTs. The beverage giant has used Pride Month NFTs to generate charitable funds, as well as launch a collection of NFTs for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Similarly, they partnered with NFT platform OpenSea to generate funds to support Special Olympics International.

Coca-Cola Serbia aims to both capitalize on and expand on the larger brand’s NFT offerings. By doing so, they could pave the way for other regional arms of major companies to provide innovative experiences for customers who might not be able to access similar perks any other way.

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Memeland Captainz Reveal Sparks Mixed Feedback From Community

Captainz, the premier collection of Memeland, minted 9,999 NFTs on January 4, 2023, for 1.069 ETH each. Now, after months of anticipation, Memeland’s Captainz art has been revealed.

What’s notable about the reveal is the customization, namely the freedom for holders to choose their NFT’s gender, skin type, and other traits. All of these features were geared towards allowing holders to contribute to the Memeland ecosystem as owners, not just customers. Other anticipated massive benefits for Captainz NFTs include the company’s forthcoming $MEME token and its rumored Treasure Islandz experience.

The reveal has revoked a diverse array of responses, with some praising the new unprecedented control over their digital identities and others offering criticism of the artwork itself.

A range of reactions

After the July 2 art reveal, users flocked to Twitter to share their opinions on the PFPs. Some users alluded to the designs being derivative and low-quality, calling them “Fiverr art” or comparing them to Azuki’s Elementals collection, which also received criticism for its mint. However, many were unaware that the NFT art functions as a base, capable of accommodating additional elements.

Other users called the project racist, citing a Black avatar named Kong, whose name is reminiscent of King Kong. However, Ray Chan, the CEO of 9GAG, Memaland’s parent company, explained that the name is an homage to CyberKongz NFTs.

Despite the loud critics, others found a far different meaning in the Captainz art reveal. Among the positive reactions, some touted the customizable PFP abilities as one of the most revolutionary parts of the collection. Holders can personalize their avatars on everything from skin type, hair, clothing, and more.

Captainz also benefits from Memeland’s ERC-6551 protocol, which helps the ecosystem as a whole. ERC-6551 allows NFTs to have their own wallets, which enables them to hold a range of assets, including other NFTs.

If Memeland brings Captainz into the gaming world, this protocol permits all character-related items, such as weapons, clothing, and in-game currency, to be owned by the NFT itself. This consolidates ownership, simplifies trading, and allows associated items to transfer together in a single transaction.

In those ways, ERC-6551 and Captainz might propel NFTs to new horizons. The Captainz customizable NFTs symbolize the evolving meaning of owning a digital identity, a shift in philosophy that supporters argue outweighs the art’s quality.

Moreover, Memeland offers a robust bug bounty program through Captainz that both rewards and encourages active participation from the community.

In accordance with the varied responses, there is less than one percent of Captainz listed for sale at the time of this writing; conversely, the floor price has dropped off its recent highs of around 8 ETH to about 5.5 ETH. Still, Chan is optimistic, calling the reveal “a step towards our goal to build the greatest community company.”

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Lacoste’s UNDW3 Introduces “The Mission,” a Dynamic NFT Quest

In early June, every Genesis Pass NFT from Lacoste’s Genesis NFT collection featured an identical design. But as a fashion company, unique aesthetics matter, so their NFTs are getting an upgrade — one that goes far beyond looks. The Genesis Passes have now evolved into the UNDW3 Card (pronounced “underwater” card), marking a shift in the brand’s approach to community engagement.

With the upgrade to UNDW3 Cards, holders (who refer to themselves as “crocodiles”) can change the rarity, value, and look of their NFTs through interactive on-chain and off-chain activities. The more holders participate, the more features and utilities they unlock for their NFT. Lacoste is calling these activities “The Mission,” and the first season is already underway.

Let’s dig into how Lacoste got to this point, where they see their NFT collection going, and how you can become a crocodile yourself.

History of the Genesis Passes

Never straying from its tenacious namesake, the iconic French fashion brand launched its Genesis Pass NFTs in June 2022. The 11,212 NFTs sold out in eight hours to more than 8,000 unique collectors. At the time of this writing, the Genesis Pass collection has a trading volume of over 3,780 ETH.

Since its inception, the Genesis Passes have offered an unprecedented co-creation journey with its NFT holders.

In June, Lacoste offered an exclusive experience to 50 NFT holders, inviting them to enjoy the Roland-Garros tennis tournament from the prestigious Lacoste Skybox. Participants were treated to an exclusive gift bag with a custom polo, a dinner, and cocktail experience. This was preceded by a similar event at the Miami Open in March.

Holders also had the opportunity to be part of a unique community event at Lacoste’s flagship store in Paris, in the heart of the famous Champs-Élysées luxury shopping district.

True to its roots as a clothing company, Lacoste has masterfully integrated fashion into its community engagement. In October 2022, the company launched exclusive merchandise for holders, the designs of which were created by the community. Later that year, Lacoste partnered with the fashion VR platform Emperia to roll out a virtual store, an exclusive digital space where specific NFT holders were granted access to merchandise.

But perhaps one of the most exciting moments for the community was when founder René Lacoste’s old friend, Henri de Gayettes, made an appearance on the community’s Discord server. His involvement didn’t just create buzz in the community; it symbolically bridged the gap between Lacoste’s storied past and its innovative digital future.

The Lacoste experience through UNDW3

With their history of co-creation and community in mind, Lacoste is once again poised to disrupt the status quo. With the UNDW3 card, they’re not just releasing another NFT collection—they’re pioneering a dynamic new model of brand engagement, leveraging the power of Web3 technology.

Genesis Pass holders can upgrade their NFT to a dynamic UNDW3 Card. Once they make that leap, holders gain access to a wide range of exclusive experiences, including entry into Lacoste’s Waterverse, the UNDW3 wardrobe, prestigious IRL tennis events, and voting rights on community matters.

Unlike other NFT collections, however, holders can improve their NFTs by participating in The Mission, which consists of both digital and “off-chain” in-person events, including quests, online games, discord participation, joining AMAs, riddles, and more.

But the UNDW3 Card goes beyond the typical proof-of-attendance NFTs (otherwise known as POAPs): it’s a living record of a holder’s active engagement with the brand, with all activities recorded on-chain. Holders earn points, which then change the graphic of the NFT according to the holder’s ranking, providing a concrete visual representation of their contribution to the community.

In a press release, Lacoste stated, “We firmly believe that the future of brand loyalty extends far beyond transactional interactions. The UNDW3 card celebrates a broader spectrum of brand engagement, encompassing creativity, conversation, and gaming.”

It’s clear that Lacoste sees Web3 as a playground for innovation. By inviting their community into the creative process, they’re demonstrating a commitment to a future where brand loyalty is about much more than purchases—it’s about participation, creativity, and shared experiences.

How can you participate in The Mission?

From June 29, members of the Lacoste NFT community—crocodiles, if you will—can claim their first points based on their Discord activity from the previous year. This rewards the community’s initial supporters and serves as an incentive for continued engagement. The season ends in December, when the 200 most engaged community members will be rewarded with new and exclusive experiences.

After connecting their wallets, holders gain access to myriad utilities, including creative sessions, video games, interactive conversations, and even weekly raffles where they can win merch, NFTs, and additional points.

As each season progresses, users will witness their NFT evolve in real-time. As such, each UNDW3 Card is a living, changing reflection of each holder’s engagement with the Lacoste brand. This is more than a loyalty program—it’s a journey into the heart of Lacoste’s vision for a more interactive, innovative, and collaborative future.

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South Korea Advances Crypto Investor Safeguards With New Bill

In a significant move to bolster investor protection, South Korea’s National Assembly recently approved the Virtual Asset User Protection Act, the country’s first legal framework devoted to digital assets. The legislation, an amalgamation of 19 proposals from lawmakers, is expected to come into effect in one year, according to the Assembly’s official website​.

The South Korean government’s initiative is led by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, reflecting the country’s broad commitment to regulating the burgeoning crypto industry. The legislation aims to define digital assets, impose penalties for unfair practices, and ensure that service providers meet specific requirements designed to safeguard investors’ interests.

The evolving crypto landscape

South Korea has been working towards creating a safer and more reliable market for cryptocurrencies, particularly after Terra’s $40 billion collapse in 2022 led to massive losses for hundreds of thousands of investors​. This new legislation indicates a significant step in that direction, establishing legal rights for virtual asset users and requiring crypto service providers to protect user assets and deposits. Additionally, these providers must maintain insurance, hold a portion of reserves in offline cold wallets in case of hacks or system failures, and keep records of all transactions​​.

Among the key figures in this endeavor is Hwang Suk-jin, a member of the Ruling People Power Party’s Digital Asset Special Committee. Hwang has expressed optimism about the initiative, stating that the proposed bill will establish the legal rights for virtual asset users and create a safer and more reliable market for cryptocurrencies​​.

The Financial Services Commission has been granted the authority to oversee and inspect service providers, ensuring compliance with the new regulations, while the Bank of Korea will have the right to request data from these entities, reflecting the cryptocurrency market’s significant potential impact on financial and monetary stability​​.

South Korea has consistently aimed to become a leader in the digital economy. With this new legislation, the country is taking concrete steps to regulate the crypto industry, focusing first on investor protection and likely moving towards rules for local companies in token issuance and information disclosure in the future​​. These developments underscore South Korea’s commitment to fostering an environment for digital asset innovation and improvements.

With the passage of the Virtual Asset User Protection Act, South Korea aims to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the crypto industry, utilizing its status as one of the most active cryptocurrency economies in the world and as an increasingly important market for digital assets​​. The work of the lawmakers in the upcoming year is anticipated to be crucial in shaping South Korea’s role in the evolving crypto landscape.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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