The year 2021 could go down as the year that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) took over talk in cryptocurrency and amongst investors. Could this be the start of a multiple-year run — or just be a one-time phenomenon?

Benzinga recently chatted with several NFT investors and industry experts to preview what’s ahead for NFTs in 2022.

The NFT Experts: Benzinga spoke to the following for their takes on NFTs in 2021.

Luc Doucet – NFT Advocate, Founder The First Mint

Avery Akkineni – President of VaynerNFT

Josh Ong – NFT Collector, NFT Consultant

Hunter Orrell – Web 3.0 Investor

Matt Higgins – Co-founder, CEO RSE Ventures

Growth of Metaverse: A quick look at many of the NFT roadmaps includes phrasing of the metaverse. Benzinga asked the experts if the metaverse will remain a goal of NFT projects in 2022.

Doucet said that it’s still early for NFTs to launch in the metaverse.

“The only functional metaverse is Cryptovoxels and although I love the project, its lack of traction in the 2021 NFT scene proves to me that people don’t actually want a Ready Player One-style metaverse experience,” Doucet said.

Ong echoed the metaverse being early for NFTs.

“NFT projects will continue to develop their metaverse presence across a variety of platforms,” Ong said.

Higgins thinks NFT projects could be held to higher standards in 2022, which could mean needing to meet roadmap goals of metaverse expansion when projects list it.

Celebrities: Athletes, celebrities and big investors all joined in the NFT world in 2021. Many celebrities launched their own NFT collections and some caused floor prices to spike from mentioning projects or changing their profile picture on Twitter. When asked what celebrity could be next to enter the NFT space, the panel had a wide range of answers.

Doucet said he could see Drake entering the NFT space in 2022 and called an entry by President Joe Biden his darkhorse bet.

Akkineni called for leading musicians to join the NFT space in 2022, calling out for Beyonce and Taylor Swift to join.

Orrell sees the number of celebrities potentially fizzling out in 2022 with hype slowing. Others like Snoop Dogg, Shaq and Gary Vaynerchuk were named by Orrell as celebrities who might double down in 2022. For a new name entering the space, Orrell hopes to see NBA star LeBron James join the NFT community.

Blue Chips: A popular discussion in the NFT community is long-term bets on “blue chips.” Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks are often said to be blue-chip, and after that, the debate begins for what is next.

Ong highlighted Cool Cats, Metahero and CloneX to emerge as NFT blue chips.

Doodles and Pixel Vault are named blue chips by Orrell.

“Sean Gearin is one of the greatest executors in the space and knows how to run a company, if you haven’t taken note you should,” Orrell said of Pixel Vault founder Gearin, aka Gfunk.

Orrell also called out Pindar Van Arman as an artist that deserves more love and exposure.

Higgins referred to Cyberkongz and Vee Friends as NFT projects, which he also owns, on the cusp of blue-chip status.

“Never underestimate Gary,” Higgins said of VeeFriends founder Vaynerchuk.

Doucet singled out the NFT platforms instead of individual projects as the blue chips in the space, naming Coinbase Global Inc. (NASDAQ:COIN), Dapper Labs and Uniswap.

Related Link: Exclusive: Unpacking Pixel Vault’s PUNKS Comic, Metahero Universe With Founder Gfunk 

Next Blue Chips: The panel was asked to share their thoughts on what could be the next NFT collections to hit blue-chip status and possibly breakout in 2022.

“Personally, I have my eyes on Jenkins The Valet and Pixel Vault. Both will show what true ownership of the IP means in the NFT space and both will serve as a blueprint for how an NFT brand can make billions of dollars,” Doucet said.

Ong singled out Gutter Cat Gang as an NFT project that has “consistently delivered” and also held its value.

“Doodles is a new contender that could continue to break out,” Ong said.

World of Women, Wolf Game and Forgotten Runes Wizard Cult are singled out by Orrell as potential breakouts in 2022.

“I also think Wolf Game has some big expectations but when I see a team that can execute I know it and that team probably will pull off something special in 2022 that makes everyone wish they had paid more attention,” Orrell said.

Wolf Game was also mentioned by Higgins as a potential blue-chip that saw attention from the entire NFT community and managed through a crisis.

“The crisis they faced would have destroyed most businesses,” Higgins said.

Another potential blue-chip could be Nifty League, an NFT project with play to earn on their roadmap and former Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) employees amongst the team.

“While others talk up their P2E roadmap, these former Activision employees have actually developed a working game and will come roaring out the gate in 2022 with P2E and a system for rentals too.”

Coinbase NFT Launch: Cryptocurrency platform Coinbase made headlines in 2021 with an announcement it is launching an NFT marketplace that could take on OpenSea. Many in the NFT space welcome the news of a new competitor to OpenSea. Here’s what the panel thought.

Akkineni said Coinbase launching an NFT marketplace is highly anticipated and could bring millions of new users into the world of NFTs.

Ong said its important to have competing marketplaces to Opensea, noting that there is room for both to coexist. Ong notes that Opensea transaction volume could take a short-term hit when Coinbase launches its platform.

“I’ve been impressed with the Coinbase base team’s thoughtfulness so far,” Ong said.

Orrell sees Coinbase being important to bring new people into the NFT space.

“They will be able to hold the hands of millions who want to dip their toes into the sector without making a MetaMask or trying a new website like Opensea,” Orrell said.

Orrell said a new marketplace could take on both Opensea and Coinbase in the future by launching a marketplace and including a community token.

“Rewarding your community and not taking from it will be the biggest threat to Opensea and I think we are a few weeks away from seeing another platform take the first real swing at Opensea.”

Higgins notes one advantage Coinbase has is the fact that it is one step closer to money compared to OpenSea, which could be a massive advantage with less friction. Higgins said there is room for more than one player in the NFT marketplace space.

Dapper Labs/NFL NFTs: Ask many NFT collectors and investors where they got their start and NBA Top Shot is often mentioned. The NBA-themed project from Dapper Labs brought a wave of new NFT investors and collectors to the space. Could the launch of NFL NFTs from Dapper Labs create a new wave of NFT users?

Doucet said the NFL NFTs should bring fewer people into the space than the NBA NFT.

“The NFL product will be far less turbulent and will gradually onboard new users,” Doucet said noting the large gains pointed out by Top Shot users.

Ong highlighted fantasy-style challenges as a way for Dapper Labs to connect is its new NFL All Day launch with NFL fans.

Orrell said NBA Top Shot was his first taste of NFTs.

“The core reason Top Shot was able to make this onboarding ramp for so many was because of how frictionless it was to jump in,” Orrell said. “I think we see another wave but not nearly as large.”

Higgins, who is an investor in Dapper Labs, sees “enormous upside” in the company as it has just scratched the surface.

“Think about European soccer and how little has been done in the space,” Higgins said. Dapper Labs has deals with the NBA and NFL and signed a deal with La Liga earlier this year.

“I think Dapper deserves enormous credit for helping NFTs go mainstream.”

Hot 2022 Predictions: The panel was asked for their hottest take for the NFT market in 2022 with their answers below.

Doucet: “Play to earn will crash and burn. The gains in trading/prospecting will always outweigh the gains from day-to-day engagement.”

Akkineni: “2022 will be THE year of NFT adoption.”

Ong: “We’re still in the ‘innovator’ phase of the adoption curve, and this market is just getting started.”

Orrell: “2022 might be the year a lot of people take very real losses and a lot of projects finally get sent to the graveyard.”

Higgins: “I think 2022 is the year the big players stop tinkering and start getting serious about the metaverse.” Higgins called out gaming studios and large IP owners such as Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) in this hot take.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay