Non-fungible tokens exist as a solution for representing unique, non-interchangeable assets. But the very uniqueness that makes non-fungible tokens great also impacts their ability to be quickly and easily bought and sold.
Take Gods Unchained for example, our trading card game, which has millions of cards in circulation, each represented through a non-fungible token. As the playerbase grows, so will the number of cards that exist. Eventually, you will have hundreds of millions, if not billions, of “unique” cards sloshing around within the economy.
In some cases, the unique properties of these cards will matter significantly. For instance, if a celebrity owns a card (e.g., a rare Demogorgon) and gives it away to a fan, the value of that card will likely be higher than a different rare Demogorgon card that wasn’t owned by a famous individual.
But what if, as a player, I want to own the cheapest rare Demogorgon? Or what if I wish to buy any card from a particular period in time or season? Or what if I only want to buy a card owned by that famous individual, regardless of which card it is?
This is where good user experience breaks. In an application with millions, if not billions of unique assets, buying (or selling) an asset can quickly become a giant pain in the ass. Users must sort through pages and pages of assets that differ very slightly, filter those pages to the nth degree, sometimes place individual bids on numerous assets hoping the seller accepts, and constantly refresh to see if something new has been listed that they can snatch up. For those who love a good hunt, this could be a fun game. For the rest of us, it’s not, and overall has an incredibly high impact on asset turnover and marketplace liquidity.
So how can we preserve the benefits of non-fungible tokens without compromising on poor user experience when uniqueness doesn’t necessarily matter?
Our solution is what we’re calling metadata orders. We’ll first explain how it works and follow up by explaining why it matters.
Each NFT has what’s known as metadata, or information that makes up the asset. A simple example is to think of yourself. Perhaps you have brown eyes, your name is Chandler, and your interests are gaming and all things blockchain (IDK). Each of those properties or characteristics can be classified as metadata that makes up who you are.
Metadata orders work by allowing you to buy or sell objects based on their metadata rather than the entirety of the object itself. For example, if I’m looking for a friend to play games and chat about blockchain memes with on the weekend, an inefficient way would be to meet many strangers, get to know their interests, and eventually (hopefully) find the perfect match. I don’t care what your name is or the color of your eyes; I only care about a few select properties (your interests in gaming and blockchain).
Metadata orders allow you to do just that: highly efficient sorting and purchasing of unique digital assets based on selected properties (metadata) that make them up.
It’s a pretty simple concept in theory, but it hasn’t been done well in the world of non-fungibles and has some pretty substantial impacts.
First, metadata orders simplify the user experience of purchasing assets. Going back to the Demogorgon example, I can simply put in an order to buy every Demogorgon that goes below a specific price while ignoring other metadata I don’t care about (e.g., who’s previously owned the card). I can place a buy order for the cheapest card of a particular rarity, or ownership history, or a combination of both. So long as the metadata requirements I set for the sale are met, I’ll be able to purchase my desired asset without sorting through hundreds, thousands, millions, or billions of assets in an inefficient and time-consuming way.
Sadly, we can’t yet place metadata orders for new friends (coming soon?).
Other than general user experience, metadata orders have a significant economic impact. By simplifying the exchange process and allowing virtually infinite markets to be created based on metadata buy and sell orders, the liquidity and trading volume of NFTs will increase. For sellers, there are more opportunities for your asset to be sold. For buyers, it will be faster and easier to find the exact asset you’re looking for, at the best possible price. For developers, it means your economy will be healthier. It’s a win, win, win. Metadata orders, they're nifty.
If you’re interested in learning more about Immutable X, how it’s tackling the largest issues in NFTs, and how you stand to benefit head to our website.