An overview of the top NFT marketplaces for beginners in 2022
While non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have emerged as one of the most popular investments for new initiatives to the crypto ecosystem, navigating the choppy waters of digital assets can be an intimidating task for Web3 newbies.
These days, before a new user can even begin picking the right collection to buy their first NFT, they first need to choose which NFT marketplace they’ll use to start their journey.
Across the Web3 landscape, dozens of marketplaces exist on a spectrum of centralized to decentralized, cater to specific market niches, offer competing rewards programs, and vary greatly in their depth of inventory and liquidity.
Additionally, depending on the type of NFT you’re looking for – a unique piece of art, a profile picture, or an item in a metaverse game, for instance – the best NFT marketplace for your purchase could vary significantly. It’s important to get a sense for the types of NFTs available and determine what subsector of the NFT market appeals to you.
The range of options is such that there may not be a definitive “best NFT marketplace,” but sophisticated buyers who know about the perks of different NFT markets can leverage the different options to their advantage and secure superior deals -- much like with picking a traditional liquid crypto exchange.
This article will analyze a number of popular Ethereum marketplaces according to their pros and cons in an effort to help new buyers navigate the NFT market.
Let’s dive in!
If measured purely terms of market share and inventory, OpenSea is without question the best NFT marketplace.
The leading NFT market in almost every major category including trading volume, daily active users, and individual transactions, OpenSea is the “superstore” of NFTs. There users can find almost all of the leading collections, and are likely to find competitive prices as well.
However, with size comes a lack of specialization – if you’re looking for particular art collections or a velvet-glove browsing experience, it’s best to take your NFT shopping elsewhere. Critics often parody the browsing experience by referring to the platform as “BrokenSea” – a reference to slow load times and the occasional lack of features and search options.
Additionally, OpenSea is a centralized entity. Unlike many Web3 platforms which reward users with tokens for buying and selling NFTs, OpenSea does not offer any token incentives or benefits. Finally, the platform charges a flat 2.5% transaction fee on sales – the combination of which may impact the overall cost-benefit analysis of a particular purchase, particularly for more expensive purchases.
A recent addition to the NFT market battle, LooksRare emerged on the scene in January 2022, and has been battling to carve out a slice of OpenSea’s marketshare ever since.
The platform has a similar browsing, buying, and listing experience when compared to their behemoth competitor, and likewise casts a wide net in terms of listing a remarkably wide range of collections – buyers can find all but the most select pieces listed for sale.
What makes LooksRare stand out compared to OpenSea, however, is that the platform shares its revenues with users via the dedicated LOOKS native token.
That revenue-sharing plan has proven to be a hit among Smart Money. A key feature of Nansen, Smart Money is a label Nansen gives to wallets that are consistently among the most profitable. While OpenSea leads overwhelmingly among general users, a growing percentage of Smart Money wallets are taking their trading to LooksRare – currently 20%.
While a beginner might want to make their first NFT market purchase on OpenSea, more active and experienced users can earn rewards and a share of trading fees on LooksRare, making it perhaps the best NFT marketplace for high trading volume buyers and sellers.
While OpenSea and LooksRare can accommodate most buyers when it comes to profile picture collections and other collectibles, when it comes to fine art NFTs platforms like SuperRare are a better bet for the discerning investor.
SuperRare often hosts auctions with leading digital artists and celebrities – if your favourite film director or pop star is planning an NFT drop, odds are that it’s happening on SuperRare. Additionally, the platform often hosts themed sales, such as a recent event focusing on Asian American digital creators.
Art NFTs are a popular subsector for collectors, though they don’t tend to generate the same degree of hype and buzz as collectibles and profile pics. Collectors looking to dip their toes into this niche should likely start with SuperRare, but also expand to platforms like Foundation, KnownOrigin, and Art Blocks, all of which offer a wide range of options and experiences for buyers.
Much like the broader NFT market, pinning down the “best” NFT marketplace for art is somewhat subjective, but SuperRare tends to have an interesting selection for beginners.
Knowing what to look for when investing in any kind of NFT is already a difficult task, requiring a good sense of both market dynamics and how public perception can shape cultural trends. Investing in metaverse or Web3 gaming NFTs, however, is even more difficult.
Until recently the Web 3 gaming space was dominated by Axie Infinity. The play-to-earn smash hit has attracted hundreds of thousands of players, and even become a primary source of income for many people around the world with its in-game items.
The Axie Marketplace is one of the leading gaming NFT marketplaces primarily because of Axie’s reach and importance. There, users can buy Axies – the Pokemon-like critters that are used to battle and earn in the Axie Infinity virtual worlds. Knowing which Axies are best to buy requires a dive into the rules of the game and some experience, and a “breeding” mechanic adds an additional wrinkle from an investment perspective.
Finally, users should also take time to learn how this all interacts with Axie’s native layer-1, Ronin ($RON), and governance token ($AXS) – enough moving parts to keep your digital wallet busy.
Other metaverse games, such as Crabada and DeFi Kingdoms, have similarly complex internal economies and systems for their game items and game assets, but for a new users trying to find the best NFT marketplace for gaming, perhaps starting with the game that kicked off the movement is a good place to dive in.
While still very much an emerging asset class, Non-fungible tokens are mature enough of a market that there is no all-in-all “best NFT marketplace” or crypto exchange that can suit every buyer in every subsector.
In order to determine which digital assets market is best for a newcomer, a user should analyze which type of NFTs interests them the most and might have the highest growth upside – a task that Nansen makes easier with its dedicated NFT Paradise data dashboard.
Once a user has chosen the sector where they want to make their first purchase, there are strong entry-level NFT markets for each option, as well as more niche outlets to choose from once a new buyer has gained more experience.
The world of NFT markets is growing and changing all the time, and the best way to keep up-to-date on this world of digital tokens is to dive in!