What Went Down At NFT.NYC 2023

With traditional brands taking a break from their metaverse activations following the thrill of Metaverse Fashion Week, all eyes were on the true trailblazers of Web3 to deliver at last week’s NFT.NYC event. 

The program, which took place from April 12-14, brought the digital crowd offline with a plethora of afterparties, exclusive dinners, meet-ups, panels, and gamified activities. Established in 2018, the calendar — which has grown from a one-day event with 400 participants to a three-day showcase — now attracts a global audience of C-suite executives, VIPs, and enthusiasts ambitious to discover the potential of the metaverse.

Now officially coined as one of Web3’s most anticipated community events of the year, the pressure was on for participants, which included Adidas, Cult & Rain, Gmoney, and more, to reignite metaverse optimism, following the crypto winter and its recent disrepute. 

Jing Daily takes a look at which activations across the calendar performed well, and where the event fell short of its lofty expectations.

The invite only event brought together the top minds across the industry to discuss new innovation in fashion, luxury, and retail. Photo: Ashumi Sanghvi via LinkedIn

What Went Well? 

One of the highlights was the invite-only Future+ launch event, hosted in partnership with Samsung LED. Featuring a number of curated panels discussing topics ranging from the future of phygital to the power of gaming, the conference brought together pundits from top Web3 startups including Exclusible, The Fabricant, Hape, Arianee, DressX, and more.

According to Ashumi Sanghvi, founder of Future+ and creative production agency MAD Global, the inaugural event accumulated more than 300 visitors over the course of its activation and received an impressive response.

“Conferences like NFT NYC are open for one and all, and as much as that is great for community, there is not much value exchanged besides self-congratulating camaraderie. What I am building is set on the foundation of innovation and delivered with experience at the forefront, to move the entire ecosystem forward with intention and purpose,” Sanghvi says.

Another spotlight moment was Gmoney’s World Connect 02 Treasure Hunt challenge, which combined POAPs (Proof of Attendance Protocol) and physical “treasure” pins that could be collected by fans at various New York haunts, including a downtown bodega and a pizza house.

Participants were encouraged to order the “secret menu” item to receive a 9dcc mystery package that contained several “NYC essentials,” as well as the brand’s Iteration-03 baseball cap — a product that later served as a canvas for a series of physical pins found across the hunt.

Community members were encouraged to take part in a treasure hunt across the city to discover a series of “treasures” and offline experiences. Photo: Courtesy of Chapter 2 Agency / Matthew LeJune

“We received numerous entries for the Treasure Hunt and all 9dcc caps have been dispersed. Based on our latest information from 9dcc World Connect 02, a total of 7845 POAP mints were created using 1854 different devices,” Kenneth Loo, co-founder of Chapter 2 agency, tells Jing Daily. “These impressive figures demonstrate the high level of engagement. It’s clear that communities are willing to interact with ‘networked products’ when given the chance to do so in real life.”

Meanwhile, Adidas celebrated its #ALTSbyadidas ecosystem and genesis NFT drop with its “ALT[er] Ego Motel” meet-up, powered by Web3 record label Probably A Label. The sportswear giant has recently rebranded its metaverse-centric community from a PFP project to a collab-focused and narrative-driven engagement platform.

The event featured live music and entertainment, generating a great turnout and response across socials. Scavenger hunts were also a recurring theme of the week, with Adidas hosting its own treasure hunt activity where participants could win a free branded goodie bag — a prize that included specially designed T-shirts featuring NFC chips and POAPs, further connecting its cohort to the Web3 world.

The event celebrated the label’s recent shift from PFP projects to a more community-focused platform in Web3. Photo: Adidas

Obvious Pain Points

The schedule’s lesser-documented side events, however, failed to resonate with the masses. This was largely due to complications with curation and poor organization by coordinators, which left a number of panels both underwhelming and grossly under capacity.

These pain points serve as a lesson in Web3 survival, demonstrating what happens when profit and numbers are prioritized over well-thought-out and meaningful experiences for the community. 

Moreover, not everyone was convinced that the schedule was worth the hype. Web3-native and enthusiast @vvwvvw_eth tweeted “NFT NYC this year is extremely boring, tbh. Everyone is just repeating the same things, very superficial.” Meanwhile, @9gagceo penned: “Most Web3 IRL events are the opposite of Web3 — they are organized by one party, in one place, at one time, and so centralized that you cannot even get in.”

While big activations from big labels might overshadow the failures, lackluster turnout and feedback like the above implies that the event still has a way to go in boosting enthusiasm and leveraging appeal.  

Future Improvement

Even without the attendance of hyped players like Bored Ape Yacht Club (whose “Apefest” was one of last year’s undisputed highlights), the calendar still generated strong media exposure and buzz online. Major absences like BAYC’s also didn’t massively dent excitement or engagement among Web3 enthusiasts, who mostly embraced the roster of participants and projects nevertheless.

Overall, the excitement around NFT.NYC shows that the industry is still feeling bullish about Web3’s future. However, success at these types of events depends on brands placing community at the heart of their projects, rather than the prospect of clout.


Jing Meta