Reddit's Collectible Avatars

How Reddit’s Collectible Avatars Blew Up the NFT Space

BY Eric James Beyer

October 31, 2022

On July 7, 2022, Reddit announced the launch of a new project: Collectible Avatars. These limited-edition PFPs, created by independent artists in partnership with the company (in addition to popular Reddit community creators), would confer unique platform benefits to their owners. Backed by the Polygon blockchain and available for purchase at a fixed price in fiat, it was Reddit’s first large-scale foray into the NFT space.

The announcement took many by surprise. The social platform’s NFT subreddit had long been a terrifying and cacophonous place where you were equally likely to encounter either seething NFT hatred or annoying and malevolent NFT scams. Reddit founder, Alexis Ohanian, even advised people to stay away from the toxic section of the website at one point. What was the company doing diving head first into a technological trend whose reputation was battered even outside the walls of its own platform?

Six cartoon avatar figures with varying traits and backgrounds arranged against a bright orange backdrop.
Reddit’s Collectible Avatars

Yet, in a bizarre Web3 twist, just three months after the company introduced its NFT project, four separate Reddit Collectible Avatar collections found themselves on OpenSea’s Top 10 list for 24-hour trading volume, with one collection knocking CryptoPunks out of the number one spot. Just prior to this feat, it also came to light that Reddit users had created three million Vault crypto wallets on the platform since July, surpassing even OpenSea in the number of active wallets on its platform.

All of which sounds a bit insane. So, how did Reddit, a Web2 social media platform, become the dark-horse hero of Web3 NFTs?

What are Reddit NFTs?

Reddit’s CryptoSnoos NFTs are digital, limited-edition collectibles based on the social platform’s mascot, Snoo. They were designed by independent artists and Reddit creators from popular creative communities like r/Comics that users could buy with fiat currency, ranging in price from $10 to $100. The avatars give users platform benefits (like unique profile animations) and allow Redditors to use their avatars as they see fit off the platform.

These NFTs emerged from the context and the success of Reddit’s then-recently-updated Avatar Builder, which the platform launched in 2020. Users could use the Avatar Builder to customize their Snoo with hairstyles, jackets, jerseys, and other gear, allowing them to personalize their profile picture.

Reddit takes the top spot via OpenSea.

The current Collectible Avatar NFTs are also a conceptual extension of Reddit’s first NFT collection, released quietly in June 2021 as a set of four artistic interpretations of its Snoo avatar. Selling for as high as 175 ETH ($234,000 at the time), their success undoubtedly encouraged the company to continue exploring the potential of the technology.

Where to buy Reddit NFTs

If you’re looking to find a Collectible Avatar in Reddit’s Collectible Avatar Marketplace, you’re out of luck — they’ve all sold out. You can find them on OpenSea, however, where secondary sales began skyrocketing in late October 2022. Here are four collections that rose to fame.

Popular Reddit NFT Collections

Foustlings x Reddit Collectible Avatars is one of Reddit’s best-selling collections, having done more than 650 ETH in trading volume. Created by Reddit user Tyler Foust, the collection features Snoos in his signature squiggly line style surrounded by vibrant colors.

Spooky Season: poieeeyee x Reddit Collectible Avatars and Spooky Season: Rojom x Reddit Collectible Avatars are two Halloween-themed collections of nearly 2,000 Snoos created by Redditor poieeeyee and Rojom, respectively. Poieeeyee’s collection was the one that knocked CryptoPunks out of the number-one spot on OpenSea’s Top 10 list by 24-hour trading volume and has done just under 1,100 ETH in trading volume (as of writing). The fourth collection that made a brief appearance on the OpenSea Top 10 list was The Senses x Reddit Collectible Avatars, another Rojom creation.

How did Reddit pull this off?

Reddit knows its community well. It’s also aware of the controversial status NFTs hold in the minds of the non-Web3 initiated. Before the introduction of Collectible Avatars, the company released a report called The ABCs of NFTs, in which they found that 70 percent of Reddit users were open to buying an NFT from their favorite brand, but 35 percent thought that brands could also “ruin the future of NFTs.” In other words, they knew they had to execute their approach to NFTs carefully, minimizing bad optics connected with technology while making it easy to purchase them.

And they walked a very fine line. The company hired independent artists and recognized talent within its own platform to make artistically unique digital avatars that grant owners specific utility on Reddit, gave NFT owners something akin to a CC0 license in terms of intellectual property usage, incentivized platform users to get a cool, new PFP in the process, and made them available for purchase using fiat instead of crypto. And they did this all while consciously avoiding using the term “NFT.” The word didn’t make a single appearance in Reddit’s July announcement.

Cosmic Abyss via Rojom

This strategy certainly wasn’t lost on its user base, as evidenced by clever posts from community members. But no amount of the acerbic, witty, sometimes toxic rhetoric that Reddit users have earned an infamous reputation for could do anything to hold back Collectible Avatars’ monumental rise.

In an effort to increase the reach and visibility of its Collectible Avatar project, Reddit also gave away free airdrops to some of its top community contributors and builders in August. The platform provided NFTs from the Aww Friends, Drip Squad, Meme Team, and The Singularity collections to Redditors who met certain eligibility requirements. However, these collections traded at far lower volumes than those that users bought from the platform.

“Seeing [NFTs] take off got us thinking — what would happen if we gave artists on Reddit license to make any style of avatar they wanted?” the company pondered in its July announcement.

If you had said the answer to that question was “get multiple Reddit Collectible Avatar collections into OpenSea’s Top 10 list, with one knocking the mighty CryptoPunks out of the number-one spot,” the decentralized community may have looked at you with furrowed brows.

What Reddit achieved is difficult to overstate, and its strategy of approaching NFTs without even using the term is one that many more Web2 companies on the fence about NFTs will probably implement, given this success story. The Snoo has successfully turned heads — both in and outside of Web3.

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