Will Project Loot have a trajectory similar to ETH around 2018? There are certainly parallels. Those outside Loot are dismissing this now, just as the public has become convinced that the cryptomarket ended after the ICO boom.
In both cases, however, after the attention was gone, a lot of work was being done. The problem is that, like ETH back then, even enthusiastic community members are still unsure what Loot is for.
Loot (for Adventures) was released in late August by Vine co-founder Dom Hoffmann. It allowed ETH users to download a list of items into an NFT, LOOT, that would provide the basis of a game – some game. Then, in September, Hoffman burned the keys that would have allowed him to change the smart contract so that he actually had control of the community. Since then, he has largely retreated.
In the beginning, the fall of the NFT was extremely agitated. The average sale price in early September was above $50,000. Daily volume peaked in late August at 6,027 ETH, and remained above 1,000 ETH through September 9, according to the Loot Ecosystem panel in Dune Analytics.
Today, ETH volume on LOOT sales rarely hits 100 in a 24-hour period and less than 20 Loot NFTs change hands most days. OpenSea shows a minimum price for Loot of 2,399 ETH now, or $10,749, well below the $50,000 floor that was being aired in early September.
Skepticism rose. “Remember the 72 hours when Loot was the fucking meaning of existence?” said James Prestwich, founder of Summa, on Twitter.
Swords, capes and amulets
Currently, 2,541 packs support at least one NFT LOOT, with an average of 3 per pack, but there are some very large LOOT whales out there. A portfolio has more than 1,500.
It is this concentration of wealth that has left Lumi, the independent crypto tech researcher, pessimistic about Loot. “The lack of continuity or solution to their existential dilemmas was totally unsatisfactory for me in terms of real interest,” he told The Defiant on the Telegram,
An NFT Loot is just a list of eight items, the kind of things you might find in a fantasy game: swords, cloaks and amulets. All the data that generates it is chained together, which is attractive, but the output itself is about as low as NFTs can get. Still, that’s what so many builders found inspiring: not quite a blank slate, but close, but with a mysterious, tangible value.
Paul Veradittakit of Pantera Capital recently released his own report on Loot. “The project is at a very important moment in its life cycle. It had a viral first month or so,” he said in an email to The Defiant. “As the Loot (and other associated assets) has depreciated in value since then and the building has slowed down a bit, my reading is that the community is looking for the next step in the ‘Lootverse’.”
“The project is at a very important moment in its life cycle.”
Loot was one of the hottest non-fungible token (NFT) projects, as the craze for demonstrably unique digital items took over ETH and spread to other blockchains, but since then much of the shine has gone out of Loot. The idea of a game that doesn’t exist yet seems to be exhausted for the broader market, but is it really the end of Loot? Or is the market having trouble pricing projects with an uncertain use case?
It’s easy to make a comparison with ETH itself here.
After the initial coin supply boom of 2017 and early 2018, ETH (and all crypto) entered what is now known as Crypto Winter. The mainstream rejected crypto, but within the industry believers continued to work on their ideas. All this effort seemed justified in 2020, when DeFi Summer arrived and there was a lot more useful things “World Computer” could do besides raising money for ambiguous projects.
Science fiction game
Tyler Spalding, founder of Flexa, has been a Loot fan since the beginning, believing he is preparing smart game makers for success because a lot of people have an incentive to try games or experiences with the potential to add value to their NFTs. “If Loot is moderately successful, you’ll have the ‘game pieces = users’ ready to go,” Spalding told Defiant via Telegram.
Other ETH entrepreneurs who didn’t want to give detailed comments simply noted to The Defiant that it’s hard to believe in a project with an absent founder.
Loot’s devotees aren’t concerned about his absence, however. Hoffmann has not appeared on the Loot Talk forum since late October. The only project he mentions in his Twitter biography is Blitmap , a sci-fi game that is being built by his community.
“Loot is the first of its kind, totally decentralized, bottom-up community. There are amazing things being built,” Will Papper, co-founder of SyndicateDAO who created Adventure Gold, told The Defiant via direct message. “The flip side of decentralization is that it’s a lot harder to coordinate, but the Loot Alliance of builders has done a great job.”
After all, there is a well-known crypto project that hasn’t heard from its founder for a long time: BTC.
One of the most active members of the Loot community is Timshel. He’s been doing a number of things, but one of his big efforts is working to create a tradition or backstory for the Loot universe by analyzing the smart contract that created Loot.
He told The Defiant that Hoffmann’s absence is “the key that sheds light on the whole vibe and meaning of Loot, and why Loot is so different from these exaggerated designs.”
For his part, Hoffmann claims he’s not really gone, he’s just been carefully quiet because he thinks it’s the right move. “I now see myself as more of a community member and builder than anyone else,” he told The Defiant via Twitter, noting that it’s important that he doesn’t take up too much space at this delicate stage. “There are special things going on in the community that I want to make sure they have the space they need to thrive.” Hoffmann did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Defiant.
There are a lot of activities going on behind the scenes in Loot, but none of them make for a really hectic game. At least, it hasn’t released a normal video game yet.
One could argue that Loot in its current form is the game. The first game is to create the game that most people agree is Loot. Very meta.
Timshel recently launched a website to try to hit some points of consensus on Loot, called the Loot Foundation. For now, this site argues that the Loot primitives are the initial NFT drop, mLoot (More Loot) and sLoot (Synthetic Loot).
This initiative resulted from an investigation into the smart contract that created Loot, which turned out to contain more details about the items than people initially imagined. More importantly, it had 16 classes or categories or items (things like “Glow” or “Rage”), suggesting a kind of loyalty between them that suggested foundational stories. Community members who want to create the Loot tradition collaboratively are coming together as part of Project Genesis.
The Loot Foundation website claims that Loot has some primitives, Loot, More Loot and Synthetic Loot.
More Loot was another Loot item airdrop that gave access to the game to many more users. When Hofmann launched it in early September, it created more than 1.3 million additional Loot bags, with an expanding offering that will generate something like another quarter of a million bags a year.
Synthetic Loot is a Loot extension that gives a unique bag to every ETH address that has ever existed or will exist. That way, anyone has a way to “get started” in any game or web3 experience that requires some sort of Loot to get started.
The Loot Foundation also argues that the smart contract implies another primitive, 2,540 Genesis Adventurers. That is, all items belonging to a class suggest that in ancient times there was a great adventurer who held and used all these items at once. Therefore, all items that end in “of Detection” or “of Skill” belonged to an old hero.
Another important development in Loot was Adventure Gold, a fungible money for the Loot universe. Adventure Gold (AGLD) recently tried and failed to update the smart contract to expand supply, but it failed, not for lack of support but for quorum. However, a vote passed to remove the quorum requirement if an overwhelming majority of voters support a measure during a longer ballot, then expansion could still happen soon.
AGLD hit a high of $5.49 on Sept. 4 but hasn’t broken $3 since Nov. 20, according to CoinMarketCap.
These efforts only cover the top level of what is happening. There are many more pieces coming together, vying to be a part of the canonical Loot universe, when things get going. With Hoffmann gone, there is no clear leader, but community members get regular calls to try to maintain some kind of general consensus while allowing experiments to flourish.
There are projects around land for loot, timing and many attempts to define the aesthetics of the game before the game. Loot Watcher is a portal to all the many creations that have come out of Loot so far.
“If you spend some time investigating what’s going on, it’s really impressive,” said Hoffmann. He described a core of builders who are trying to stay a bit on the same page as tradition and technical developments evolve, and then a layer of experimenters testing ideas, all creating this web of Loot potential. “This is really the decentralization in place and I’m excited to see what happens next,” he said.
In that sense, it’s like mid 2018 in ETH, when there were DEXes, currency markets and synthetics, but they still haven’t found the right product/market beyond the very enthusiastic ones. A few airdrops later and the enthusiasm for ETH seemed very different. Loot and other NFT projects that went to community first, and then application, have the potential to be similar.
The loot value may be dropping, but loot builders are definitely still growing.
“I would certainly love to see him succeed in building a vibrant and massive game from the ground up,” said Veradittakit. “But even if it doesn’t, I think it was a great experiment and will inspire the next generation of builders.”
It can be strange that so many people are willing to invest time in Loot, an NFT that is actually just a programmatically generated word list. It’s worth remembering, however, that these lists have real value. A bag is enough to buy a decent house in much of the United States. It’s exciting to develop something of value rather than trying to inject value.
Put another way, there’s a reason jewelry isn’t made of lead when its maker has access to gold.