Cautionary Tales From Hyped NFTs: Pixelmon, Hape Prime, and More

It’s happened many times: A 10,000-supply PFP project emerges out of nowhere and becomes the hottest thing in a matter of hours. Flashy animated teasers and cryptic Tweets are the hallmarks of these social media accounts that support these projects. They manage to attract thousands of followers in record speed, prompting NFT professionals to turn on notifications to ensure they don’t miss out.

We know from the current stage of maturity in NFT that NFT projects hyped are not always what they appear. Hot new collections often catch fire and sell out quickly, but they also tend to burn out fast, leaving behind a trail of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Although the motivations behind the hyped collections are noble, let-list gatekeeping as well as questionable social media strategies have ultimately damaged the reputation of many projects. These types of projects are rare, but they are still useful for reminding collectors, builders, and creators that maximum exposure is not always a good thing.

Anatomy of a hyped NFT

There are other signs that help you identify hyped NFT projects, besides the fact that they appear out of nowhere and gain momentum quickly. Contrary to the expected ecosystem expansions of established brands in Web3, hyped NFT projects are often:

  • It sounds a little too good to be true.
  • As a marketing strategy, FOMO (fear-of-missing out) can be used.
  • Unknown founders, influencers, and builders are featured.

Even if the team is knowledgeable about blockchain technology, it’s difficult to explain the rapid growth of many hyped mints. It may not be easy to prove or pinpoint unethical growth tactics, such as buying fake followers or using burner accounts for content promotion, but some projects are able to accumulate six figures in Twitter followers or Discord members in a matter of days. There’s more to hyped mints that can be stored in a box. We can look at examples of Web3 projects that have become hype archetypes, i.e. cautionary tales.

Exhibit A: MekaVerse

Mekaverse was one of the most anticipated PFP projects ever since the Bored Ape Yacht Club in October 2021. It was a time when generative avatars were thriving in the NFT market. This meant that everyone was looking to make a big splash by getting in on the next big 10,000-supply collection. MekaVerse was able to capitalize on the attention they received by holding raffles and offering allowlist spots for their most loyal supporters.

Everything seemed to be moving along once the mint was established. In less than 24 hours, the secondary sales volume of the project surpassed $60 million. Even before the 8,888 NFTs were announced, the floor price for one Meka was at 8 ETH (or close to $25,000). The first nail in the coffin was a possible insider trading scandal that caused a domino effect.

Many collectors and enthusiasts began to take to Twitter shortly after launch to complain that the MekaVerse dropped was rigged. They used figures from Etherscan and OpenSea to create a picture suggesting that the project’s developers were able to buy some of the rarest Meka NFTs before the reveal. This feat should not be possible unless metadata from the project was deliberately altered by its originator or accessed from an outside source.

Then, the NFT reveal was a disaster. MekaVerse revealed its full NFT supply to mixed reactions after a delay due to technical problems. Some users expressed disapproval for the PFPs by comparing them to upside-down vacuum cleaners or propane heaters. Others noticed that the same feature issue MekaVerse developers had encountered was still apparent. Side-by-side comparisons revealed that users’ “unique” NFTs were almost identical to each other with the exception of single color changes. This was a major blow MekaVerse couldn’t overcome, as floor prices dropped rapidly.

Exhibit B: The HAPE PRIME

Hape Prime followed MekaVerse and Pixelmon. None of these ventures had the same Icarus moment that MekaVerse. They helped the NFT community understand the limitations of hyped NFT mins, what spotlight attention can do for a collection and why “hot new stuff” should always be taken with caution.

Hape Prime, formerly known as Hapebeast, generated almost the same amount of hype as MekaVerse. Discord members and Twitter followers tried to secure raffle and allowlist spots. They even wrote and recorded full-length hip-hop tracks in an effort to win favor with the brand. In a similar manner, the 8,192 NFTs of the collection were also revealed.

After Hape Prime NFTs were revealed in January 2022, the assets sold quickly and users discovered that they weren’t as good quality as promised. Although the characters and traits were there, many people compared it to catfishing. They also compared the mess to MekaVerse because of the art’s hat trait errors. Collectors began to feel the FUD after floor prices topped out at a similar 8.5ETH (also more that $25,000 at the time) before the reveal. Prices plummeted to the sub-1 ETH range over the following months.

Exhibit C: Pixelmon

A month after Hape Prime, the NFT industry was hit with a similar occurrence. Pixelmon, a project that gained a lot of hype and quickly sold out at a cost of 3 ETH, happened in the NFT space. The collection’s 10,000 NFTs became public and the NFT community lost its collective s*** at Kevin, the Pixelmon zombie. But even Kevin memes could not save Pixelmon from being labelled the worst project of all time.

Why does hyped mints always fail?

Three separate projects were launched, grew quickly and then ceased to exist. Some, such as Hape, continue to innovate in Web3 with major brand partnerships proving their worth. However, hyped mints almost always fail. But why? It might seem easy to blame developers for these projects for overindulging, but in reality it is the hype that causes a project to fail.

NFT collector and well-known Twitter thread author wale.swoosh pointed out that high expectations combined with excessive attention to every detail of a project can lead to disaster. “Projects are hyped only because everyone is talking. In a thread, wale.swoosh stated that there is no other topic on NFT Twitter. Everyone wants a piece, a piece, of the next big thing. “But after mint or at the very latest after the reveal the attention moves on to the next projects.”

Perhaps the NFT community is to blame for the hyped NFT project disaster. As is common in the NFT space: Those who can’t get a spot on a particular collection’s allowlist or are opposed to it will often FUD the project as being unethical or sketchy. These claims may sometimes be true, but given the importance Web3 places on Twitter engagement it is not surprising that others get involved to stir up the pot.

Interestingly, however, this is not a case where builders and creators should avoid hype. Given the pace at which NFT space operates it is important to secure a spot on the twitter feed. Avoid artificial hype, such as buying followers and promoting FOMO, and instead build out in the open, while avoiding restrictive minting mechanics. Although this may seem obvious, the NFT scams that were made have only reinforced Web3’s values of transparency and accessibility.

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