Redefining NFT Scarcity: An Exploration of Inclusive Editions and Broader Adoption

In the realm of NFTs, scarcity has been both a driving force and a potential stumbling block on the path to mainstream adoption. As the debate unfolds, it’s becoming evident that the answer lies somewhere in the middle ground – a delicate equilibrium that acknowledges the allure of scarcity while also catering to broader consumer engagement.

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@enter.artPUBLISHED 14TH AUGUST 2023

Limited editions, open editions or inclusive editions? There are many ways to tango in the world of NFT distribution, and they come with their own strengths and weaknesses. While the traditional approach to NFTs often includes limited or open editions, the proposed Inclusive Editions by Snowfro promises a fresh perspective on NFT distribution that is particularly well-suited for mainstream adoption. 

In a limited edition approach, a project will usually designate a set amount of editions available and then start the mint process. The mint continues until the collection is minted out or the project, for some reason, decides to close the mint. In an open edition, there are as many editions available as the market wants to mint, but only a set time to do so. A project will usually designate a time frame (24 hours, a week, etc.), and the market can mint as many as it wants before the time frame is over and the mint closes for good. These two approaches distinguish themselves in their ability to create FOMO. Supply is limited in two different ways, but the end result is the same: artificial scarcity, resulting in exclusivity. There’ll always be someone who can’t mint it and will have to acquire it on the secondary market. 

Leveraging Scarcity for FOMO

Scarcity has undoubtedly been a driving force in NFT adoption so far and has catalyzed FOMO, astronomical price development and mainstream attention. So, why does scarcity catalyze this? Well, all in all, it’s all about the FOMO. The psychology is simple: high demand meets limited supply or a short minting window. While this does indeed serve to aid NFT projects in minting out, and while it does indeed serve to create positive price developments, it usually results in the majority of people viewing NFTs as a high-risk investment vehicle instead of a container for consumer products. While this has seemingly served to increase adoption so far, the scarcity-centric approach could potentially alienate a broader audience that will never use NFTs as investment vehicles. 

The distinction between NFTs being primarily an investment vehicle you buy to earn money or a consumer product you buy to utilize may very well be what the discussion bottles down to. Are NFTs mere Netherlandish Tulips? Or does the technology have the potential to encapsulate real utility that solves some of the problems that regular people face in their day-to-day lives? Most likely, NFTs can be both. After all, an NFT is, at its simplest, a mere container - a flexible and decentralized one at that - in which projects can put whatever they want. As such, there’s definitely room in the NFT space for all sorts of content and distribution methods to match. 

Recently, more and more people have argued that closed and open editions are poorly suited to achieve mainstream adoption due to their intrinsic exclusivity. While exclusivity is highly desirable by individuals, we ought to remember that whenever we have something exclusive, someone is, per definition excluded. 

Inclusiveness as the road to mass adoption

Enter the notion proposed by figures like Snowfro – an exploration into the concept of “Inclusive Editions.” This concept introduces a breath of fresh air by encouraging a more open-ended and accessible approach to NFTs. The Inclusive Edition concept challenges the notion that scarcity is an absolute prerequisite for establishing value and interest in digital assets. 

Inclusive Editions offer a compromise, acknowledging the value of scarcity while making room for a broader range of participants. This model promotes inclusivity and broad access by allowing creators to generate NFTs without a set mint cap. This mechanism circumvents the notorious FOMO often associated with time-sensitive scarcity, creating a space where participants can engage without the pressure of urgency. Once artificial scarcity is dismissed, though, it becomes increasingly important for an NFT project to have an actual utility that solves regular people’s regular problems if it is to achieve mainstream attention. After all, if you don’t buy it for the 10x, you need another reason to buy it, right?

Lately, we’ve seen inclusive projects that have managed to reach a wider audience within the cryptosphere without having straightforward utility. Take the saga of Opepen Threadition, for example, which to date has managed to mint almost 70k editions merely by encapsulating a particular zeitgeist and a cultural moment, thereby proving that utility-less, inclusive collections can perform well, as long as the space can recognize itself in it. No matter how inclusive the Opepen Threadition is, though, it will probably never achieve mainstream adoption since it’s centered around a piece of crypto and NFT culture, which will forever be foreign to a mainstream audience who are by definition out of the NFT loop, so to speak. And that’s probably okay since that’s not at all what the project has set out to do. 

The Inclusive Edition concept doesn’t entirely discard scarcity. Instead, it embraces a form of individualistic scarcity, where each NFT carries its own uniqueness. This shift in focus from edition sizes and timeframes to individual distinctiveness creates a dynamic where the value of an NFT is intertwined with its intrinsic qualities rather than external factors like resale potential. 

Incorporating an “Inclusive Edition” model requires recalibrating the approach to distribution. By potentially having a higher supply cap and lower price point, creators can remain flexible in closing an edition when they see fit. As such, the concept of scarcity remains for the individual edition and its intrinsic properties while dissipating from the wider collection it’s a part of. This approach opens doors for experimenting with distribution strategies that might not be viable within the confines of traditional scarcity-driven releases.

However, this middle ground has its challenges. Critics argue that deviating too far from scarcity may dilute the inherent appeal of NFTs as unique and valuable digital items. Striking a balance between broad access and maintaining the allure of individual rarity remains a nuanced task.

In conclusion, the conversation around NFT scarcity is not binary – it’s a spectrum. The middle ground between scarcity-driven models and more inclusive approaches presents an opportunity to broaden the horizons of NFT adoption. As the NFT landscape evolves, it’s crucial to find a harmonious balance that embraces both the exclusivity that scarcity brings and the accessibility that appeals to a broader audience. The middle ground, with its potential to capture the best of both worlds, could very well be the catalyst for the mainstream embrace of NFT technology.

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