OpenSea logo with coding in the background.

OpenSea Studio: A New Start or Another Misstep?

BY Andrew Rossow

October 04, 2023

OpenSea announced the launch of OpenSea Studio, its new “one-stop shop” for creators to launch and manage their projects. 

Drawing inspiration from other marketplaces like Manifold and ThirdWeb, OpenSea Studio aims to democratize the NFT arena, making it more accessible to both seasoned tech professionals and those less versed in the digital landscape.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the new features OpenSea Studio will begin offering, starting with the move away from “lazy minting.” Historically, creators have used lazy minting to create items that weren’t on-chain until they were sold or transferred. 

“While this provided an easy way for creators to experiment with NFTs in the early days, we believe that the future of NFTs is one where creators deploy and mint from their own independent contracts,” OpenSea said in its Oct. 3 blog post.

OpenSea Studio provides a comprehensive platform for NFT creators. It facilitates the entire launch process of an NFT drop, from setting up allowlists and uploading media with previews to creating the drop page. The platform also enables direct NFT minting to personal wallets and supports multiple blockchains. Additionally, it accommodates various payment methods, including credit or debit cards.

Emphasizing “accessibility”, the platform’s interface is designed to be user-friendly without the need for technical or coding skills. Looking ahead, OpenSea plans to introduce features such as immersive storytelling units and simplified ways to post NFTs, aiming to make the user experience akin to sharing images on familiar social media platforms.

The Burning Question: Royalties

However, some industry creators have already expressed their concern for the new tool, questioning OpenSea’s intentions with the elephant-in-the-room – royalties.

In mid-August, OpenSea once again changed its position on creator royalty fees, announcing that it would be moving away from its “mandatory” creator fees to “optional” fees. When NFT marketplace Blur made its royalties mandatory in February, it quickly surpassed OpenSea as the biggest NFT marketplace by trading volume. 

Naturally, creators took to X (then Twitter) to express their anger on the marketplace “exploiting artists” and making it harder for artists to find success. 

A Manifold Copycat?

Artists also criticized the new tool for basically mirroring Manifold and its Manifold Studio, which made its debut earlier this year. 

Manifold, a platform that also enables artists to create and mint their own NFTs, prioritizes the ability of creators to maintain full control and ownership over the smart contract that defines each uploaded NFT. 

And what does Manifold think?

According to its cryptic reply on OpenSea’s X thread, it’s hard to say:

Regardless, OpenSea has some work to do and questions to answer, and it’s difficult to see anything really changing until it comes face-to-face with the only question creators and artists seem to care about right now – what does the marketplace intend to do about its royalties stance?

To add to the backlash and overall controversy, OpenSea is also implementing a 10% fee for every NFT minted using their services. If creators wanted to adjust or change the preset fee, “this will make your drop ineligible to show on OpenSea.”

Earlier this year, the platform announced a significant change to its creator fees and royalties structure. The announcement was and continues to be received with major backlash from the community and prominent creators. Despite the wave of criticism, the platform persists in implementing decisions that seem to challenge the foundational principles of Web3. By not valuing its creators, brands, and users, the platform’s “updates” and changes appear to be out of sync with the very ethos of decentralized ownership and creative collaboration that Web3 champions.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Oct. 6, 2023

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