It looks like an NFT, it sells like an NFT, but Reddit swears it’s just a “Collectible Avatar.” The website is launching a new collection of limited edition, artist-made, blockchain-backed, digital cartoon characters for purchase.
Dubbed “Collectible Avatars” in Reddit’s blog announcement, the online art pieces are, in fact, NFTs. After all, each one comes with a unique blockchain identifier, so they fit the definition. And, in an email to Gizmodo, a Reddit spokesperson did admit “they are NFTs”, but explained that the site is opting “to focus on communities and the value they receive rather than the underlying technologies.” To be fair, as far as NFTs go, they’re a little different from what you might expect.
For instance, the avatars will initially be sold at a fixed price, ranging from $US9.99 ($14.6) to $US99.99 ($146), not at auction (though that model doesn’t necessarily apply to future possible secondary sales). “Reddit charges a total fee of 5% to cover minting and related blockchain fees, as well as to support the creator program,” the spokesperson said, but the rest of the sales cost goes to the artist.
Then, there’s the fact that buyers can only enact initial purchases using standard fiat currency, not crypto, Reddit further told Gizmodo. And though all the digital doodads come with a licence that allows the owner to use their avatar art inside and outside of Reddit, it’s not as expansive as other NFT licenses — which effectively give owners character-rights. Plus, artists will receive royalties from all secondary sales.
Finally, multiple Redditors will be able to purchase different mints of the same avatar. In the initial run, the company told Gizmodo it’s releasing 90 different designs, though “10s of thousands” of avatars will be for sale in the first phase, explained the spokesperson.
“There are multiple avatars for sale of each design, and they are unique in that they will each be numbered (similar to how an artist would number an edition of prints on paper). Each will be different given they’re numbered, and since you can layer gear from the purchased Collectible Avatar onto a normal avatar on Reddit, you can customise the avatar you use on Reddit with free accessories or accessories from the Collectible Avatar you purchased.”
However, like all the other NFT projects you’ve come to know and love(?), they’re minted on the blockchain. Specifically, on Polygon, which is Ethereum-compatible and supposedly less environmentally harmful than other networks (though that claim isn’t airtight). Once purchased, the avatars will be stored inside a Reddit users’ “Vault” or the blockchain-based virtual wallet where community points are currently kept. Owners of the NFT avatars will be able to display them as their profile image on the site and beyond. At first, the avatars will only be available to users who join the closed r/CollectibleAvatars community, but then sales will open up to others in the next few weeks.
Many of the artists who created these avatars are involved in the Reddit community, and the company framed the avatar collection as a project primarily meant to benefit those artists. “In the future, we see blockchain as one way to bring more empowerment and independence to communities on Reddit,” said the company in its announcement.
This isn’t the first time Reddit has gone the NFT route. Last year, the company introduced “CryptoSnoos.” Other social media and tech companies have also recently begun dipping their toes into the blockchain. Twitter introduced NFT profile pictures last year in a partnership with OpenSea. And Meta wants people to show off their shimmering NFTs on Facebook and Instagram.
Cryptocurrency may be crashing, but the wave of blockchain-based digital art-like assets is still rising. For now, at least, NFTs seem here to stay. It is an immoveable, irreplaceable trend — non-fungible, even.