Nifty’s Matrix NFTs: A Web3 Case Study
It’s been over 20 years, and most Matrix fans still remember the moment they first experienced “bullet time.”
It was a popcorn-dropping moment.
Beyond the cutting-edge special effects, The Matrix quickly became a pop culture obsession for many reasons:
- Unique take on techno-dystopia, including the symbolic social commentary.
- Superb casting.
- Killer soundtrack.
The Matrix won 10 Oscars, 9 BAFTAs, and a collection of other film academy accolades. It ranks #16 on IMDB’s Top 250 Movies list, and that’s up against movies from all time.
The sequels “Reloaded” and “Revolutions” weren’t quite as beloved, but the characters, storyline, and “simulated” world are still dear to fans’ hearts.
Given the tech-forward nature of the Matrix realm, it should come as no surprise that Warner Brothers was on board with an NFT promotion for 2021’s Matrix Resurrections release. Given the global fanbase, I was excited for this NFT drop because I knew it would be onboarding dozens of “normies” into the world of NFTs as digital collectibles.
Let’s review the basics, the experience, and lessons learned.
Matrix NFT Basics
Quantity and Type of NFTs: 100,000 3D illustration-style “base” avatars featuring regular clothes – all still blissfully ignorant of their existence in the Matrix.
Price per avatar: $50
Limit: Initially 25 per account, reduced to 5 per account midstream due to high demand.
Minting Dates: 11/30/21 – 12/1/21
Minting Platform: Niftys.com/thematrix. (All post-mint avatars can be purchased on secondary market here.)
Nifty’s Discord Server: https://discord.gg/TZmzwpqk
Minting Blockchain: The Palm Network (negligible minting fees)
Payment Options: 1. Credit card on Niftys, or 2. Via DAI stablecoin on the Palm network via Metamask or other browser wallet.
Launch Model: First 100,000 people to register through a Queue-it portal were assigned a random place in line. This ensured that everyone had fair access.
First NFT Interaction: On January 5, 2022 owners can choose to either “blue pill” or “red pill” their avatars, at which time their backgrounds, clothing, accessories, and attributes change accordingly.
Matrix NFT Collection Overview
Launching an NFT collection at this level of popularity was a bold move on behalf of Warner Brothers, which is likely why they partnered up with Nifty’s as the release platform. As The Matrix Resurrections movie was set to release in theaters and HBO Max in December 2021, this NFT collection supports film promotion.
The “drop” was 3x oversubscribed — which ended up causing a lot of technical difficulties and sad fans. More on that in a bit.
As both an original Matrix and Web3 fan, participating was a no-brainer.
Having minted NFTs via website and browser wallet previously, I wanted to test the credit card payment route and to my delight it worked seamlessly. Offering a credit card option was a smart move, considering that many of the fanbase would be minting their very first NFTs.
Three base avatars I minted:
As you can see, the base avatars didn’t have many attributes. Mine look pretty sharp, but some of the faces and hairstyles looked kind of mismatched, and there were a couple of defects spotted by eagle-eyed owners.
Amid the excitement, I wondered if the project team simply didn’t have enough time to do one-by-one quality control on the avatars.
Ugh! Too Many Glitches in the Matrix
The NFT minting itself was riddled with technical issues, including:
- The avatar “reveal” taking 90 minutes or longer, as opposed to the originally planned instant animated reveal.
- Many transactions resulted in processing errors, leaving purchasers confused and concerned.
- Many credit card transactions were processed multiple times, resulting in various “holds” placed on cards.
- Some participants were bumped from their “Queue-it” place in line (which they’d been holding for hours) to the back of the line, jeopardizing their opportunity to mint an avatar.
On the other hand, despite all the tech setbacks, I give credit to Nifty’s for:
- Responsively communicating on the Discord server about the outages and updates. Sidebar: I was really pleased to see the team take accountability for the disruptions. However, not everyone was quite as charitable — as evidenced by the # of poop emojis in response to some of the announcements. 🙂
- Ramping up their technical support team to service the huge influx of issues.
- Holding a conference call (Discord stage) with the Nifty’s CEO Jeff Marsilio to address the outages.
- Working with Warner Bros to offer a free “Glitch in the Matrix” animated NFT to all the yearning souls who were stuck in queue during the minting delay.
Now, on to the first big mission…
Blue Pill, Red Pill, or No Pill?
Starting January 5, 2022 (originally December 16, 2021), NFT owners could choose whether to “blue pill” or “red pill” their avatars. I suspect the overwhelming majority of owners would be inclined to “red pill” their avatars because they’re hoping for a vinyl-bedecked Matrix warrior.
But that might be a huge mistake.
Each base avatar comes with a certain list of attributes, many of which are lost permanently if red-pilled. For example, only 954 of the base avatars feature the light blue smartphone. Upon red-pilling that avatar, it will lose the smartphone and most likely have a weapon instead.
Blue-pilling your avatar will change the background and preserve all physical attributes and accessories. Additionally, blue-pilling will specify new non-physical features, including:
- Other qualities like charisma, intelligence, strength, and dexterity scores.
There’s a hint blue-pillers will be part of a future “resistance army” so many of these attribute scores make sense in that context.
For those with base avatars that don’t feature special or rare attributes, the temptation to red-pill the avatar is much more appealing. Here’s a before/after:
The red-pilling process is fairly straightforward:
- Visit the blue-pill/red-pill web page on Niftys.com.
- Connect your wallet (on the Palm network).
- Select the avatar you want to red pill.
- WARNING: Make sure you are willing to give up your base avatar’s rarity attributes. There’s no going back.
- Choose the red pill in the “Mission” box.
You may have to wait a bit before your updated avatar is revealed, but they have far many more attributes than the blue-pilled versions, including fun ones such as:
- Headjack presence
- Facial expressions
At pixel press time, about half of all base avatars had been “pilled.” Over time I’d expect that the base avatars would retain some novelty when the majority have been pilled, perhaps even command more money for the novelty of pilling them. However I suspect that eventually each avatar will require either the blue or red pill to participate in future missions.
Future Mission Ideas
This is a multi-year program with opportunities for collectors to participate, earn awards and compete to be ‘The One’. ~Niftys.com
One factor that I like about this NFT project is that the creators are incorporating storytelling into it.
Even before minting, Discord members are encouraged to choose one of two rooms — a white rabbit room or a blue robot room, as designated by emojis. So we are in these rooms or teams with thousands of other strangers for a reason that is yet to be revealed.
While blue- or red-pilling is the first big mission, plans for quarterly missions are in the works. Niftys.com has shared that “Completing a mission will earn avatar holders special ‘Skill Program’ NFTs that can be used to upgrade an avatar and move up red and blue-pill leaderboards.”
Since nothing more specific has been formally announced, we can only guess that at some point all the avatar attributes will come into play.
Based on the attribute list here’s a short list of my own speculation:
- Most avatars’ names are “TBD,” so adding a name to the avatar seems likely.
- Up-leveling based on any of the following:
- Scavenger hunts on the Discord server.
- Knowledge of Matrix movie lore.
- Tie-ins with The Matrix Awakens Xbox game.
- Discord “mission teams” based on weapon, tattoo, occupation, or similar attribute.
- Up-level your attribute score (Intelligence, Strength, etc.) based on community participation or activity.
- Special missions for specifically-attributed avatars, e.g. Power = “People get out of your way.”
- Wishful thinking: It would be neat to have missions which can only be accomplished through cooperation from avatars with complementary attributes.
- Blue-pilled avatars feature a credit score attribute, so I’m guessing some will apply for a loan?!
- It would be nice to see agents introduced into some missions…perhaps some of the blue-pillers become involved in ways to undermine agents.
Important Matrix NFT Lessons
If you or your organization are planning a high-profile NFT collection mint, I’d recommend taking the following under consideration:
- Conduct surveys to gauge the size of their audience and NFT demand.
- Stress-test all minting platforms — from e-mail to queuing to site.
- Ensure an equitable, accessible mint, by
- Using lottery or other random presale-listing mechanism.
- Consider minting on a low or negligible gas fee blockchain (like Palm in this case, or Polygon).
- War-game with your development team on things that can go awry (especially payments), and have various contingency plans in place.
- Involve your comms and support team for rapid-deployment of emergency measures.
- Have all your communication avenues staffed and ready. (Discord, Twitter, Telegram, e-mail, phone, etc.)
- Brainstorm your “makegoods” in advance…if anything goes wrong, how will you make it up to your community? E.g. Bonus NFTs, an airdrop, giveaway entries, custom POAPs, etc.
- If you’re expecting a large amount of site traffic due to time-sensitive activity, the Queue-It platform worked really well.
- Institute a rigorous quality control process for the finished avatars — some of the attributes looked odd or downright wrong on some of the avatars.
- Have a roadmap if your NFTs will be used as access tokens to special experiences or content.
Because this is a multi-year project with upcoming missions, I’ll be posting interesting updates as they occur.
Did I miss anything? Find me on Twitter. 🙂