OpenSea holds the coveted title of being the cryptocurrency industry’s first-ever NFT marketplace. Whether you’re shopping for an iconic Bored Ape or trending digital art from an unknown creator, chances are OpenSea.io has precisely what you’re looking for.
JPEGs aren’t the only digital assets available on OpenSea. Anyone with a crypto wallet can delve deeper into the blockchain and find Ethereum domain names and gaming items amongst OpenSea’s hoards of treasure (or trash, depending on your point of view).
What’s the story behind the mothership of crypto collectibles? Why did OpenSea become the peer-to-peer marketplace of choice for NFT traders and digital artists?
With the rise of competitors like Blur, OpenSea looks to have set a course for troubled waters.
What Is OpenSea?
OpenSea is an online marketplace for NFT collections and digital art. Using OpenSea, collectors and traders can buy and sell non-fungible tokens on the blockchain. Aspiring digital artists can mint their creations as NFTs on the platform and sell them in auctions, or at a fixed price.
The platform offers more than just JPEGs. Collectors can also find music, virtual real estate, blockchain gaming items, and even memes right from the OpenSea homepage. After connecting a crypto wallet, like MetaMask, users can browse NFT collections and even buy ETH from within OpenSea’s simple site.
Originally, OpenSea only supported NFTs and smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. The growth of unexpected rivals like Blur has meant that OpenSea has had to integrate more networks, like Solana and Polygon, into its ecosystem.
OpenSea’s History & Founders
The blockchain startup was launched in December 2017 by co-founders Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah. From their humble beginnings as a five-person team in New York struggling to make ends meet, OpenSea was catapulted into the limelight during the NFT craze of 2021.
In the space of a year, OpenSea went from handling around $800k a month in trading volume to over $4 billion USD. Their explosive growth attracted investment partnerships from industry heavyweights like Andreessen Horowitz and Paradigm. As of March 2023, OpenSea has an estimated valuation of over $13 billion.
But what was it about OpenSea that made it the first port of call for NFT trading?
OpenSea’s Unique Features
What separated OpenSea from other NFT marketplaces was its simplicity. OpenSea’s beginner-friendly site and friendly guides made it the easiest place on the internet to collect non-fungible tokens. In the same way that Brian Armstrong wanted to make Coinbase as frictionless as possible, OpenSea helped introduce digital assets to the masses.
OpenSea made it simple for creators to sell NFTs and share their digital art. The platform’s ‘lazy minting’ feature meant that artists could create a listing for their artwork, without needing to pay to ETH gas fee to write it to the blockchain. This smart contract helped connect artists with collectors.
Unfortunately, the NFT scene is plagued with scams and fraudulent behavior. While OpenSea is far from perfect, they were one of the first NFT marketplaces to enforce ‘flagged’ items. NFTs that were reported as stolen or that had suspicious trading history could be flagged to protect collectors from buying stolen goods.
Arguably, OpenSea’s success made them complacent. This only put wind in the sales of their competitors.
Blur: The NFT Market’s New Captain?
The NFT ecosystem has evolved considerably since the launch of OpenSea. NFTs have shifted away from being fun crypto collectibles and become a full-blown competitive trading market. As a result, OpenSea’s simplistic, accessible platform is losing its title as the largest NFT marketplace.
According to Dune, Blur processed more than double OpenSea’s trading volume in February 2023. However, it’s important to recognize that much of Blur’s trading volume may have occurred in anticipation of the platform’s token airdrop.
When comparing NFT marketplaces, we also need to analyze the number of users each site supports. OpenSea has also maintained its position as the most user-friendly NFT marketplace. The platform still enjoys more Unique Active Wallets (UAW).
On the Flipside
- If OpenSea continues to be the most beginner-friendly NFT marketplace available, it will continue to be the kingpin of the NFT market.
Why You Should Care
NFT technology is advancing at a rapid rate across the industry. Internationally recognized brands like Starbucks and Meta are integrating NFTs into their business models. Whether or not you’re a fan of NFTs, they play a crucial role in the blockchain industry and are here to stay long-term.
Is it free to create and sell NFT on OpenSea?
Yes, Opensea’s ‘lazy minting’ feature lets creators list their digital art on OpenSea for free. Minting costs are payable by the buyer when they sign the transaction.
How much does it cost to get an NFT on OpenSea?
The prices of each NFT may be different so are no limits to how much, or how little, an NFT can cost on OpenSea. When buying an NFT, you will need to pay a network gas fee.
Why are OpenSea fees so high?
There are two types of payable fees on OpenSea. Platform fees are collected by the marketplace and used to cover OpenSea’s operational costs. Gas fees, on the other hand, are paid to blockchain validators for securing the network. At times of high network congestion, gas fees can be expensive.
Can I sell my digital art on OpenSea?
Yes, whether your digital art is an image, music, or a video you can sell it as an NFT on OpenSea.
How long does it take for an NFT to be minted?
Depending on which blockchain you choose to mint your NFT on and the network congestion at the time, NFT minting can take anywhere between a few seconds and a couple of hours.