The leaders in the fierce competition are Optimism, Arbitrum, Immutable X, and ZK Space
Many layer 2 solutions have emerged to address Ethereum’s scaling struggle. These layer 2 solutions offer lightning-fast speed and instant transaction finality at a near-zero cost.
Although layer 2 is still in its infancy, they constantly evolve, and new dapps daily emerge in their ecosystems. In this article, we will provide an overview of the latest NFT landscape on leading layer 2 protocols.
- Layer 2 solutions are necessary for NFTs to move mainstream.
- Currently, the most popular NFT layer 2 solutions among users include Optimism, Arbitrum, Immutable X, and ZK Space.
- DappRadar tracks user activity on multiple layer 2 blockchains. Dapp Ranking helps users discover high-quality projects on various blockchains.
- Additionally, users can also check and trade NFTs using DappRadars NFT Explorer.
Why are layer 2 solutions necessary for NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens have become one of the most dynamic sectors of the crypto industry since late 2020. According to DappRadar BGA Report 2021, the NFT sector generated $23 in full-year trading volume, with game NFTs accounting for 20%.
Ethereum (ETH)is the pioneer of smart contracts and thus the natural choice of most NFT users. However, NFTs have gained such massive traction that the huge investments led to congestion on the Ethereum layer 1 blockchain. Consequently, the cost of transactions skyrocketed.
As we can see in the chart below, after the DeFi Summer and the rise of NFTs in 2020, Ethereum gas fees witnessed a significant jump, and the general uptrend remains.
The scalability issue of Ethereum fundamentally reduces the profit for NFT users and highlights the urgency of implementing layer 2, a solution addressing scaling difficulties.
The good news is that many layer 2 solutions have achieved milestones in the past year and have started to provide a more efficient and cheap infrastructure for NFTs.
Today’s article will look at some top layer 2 protocols that help NFTs thrive.
Optimism: An upstart for NFT marketplaces
Optimism adopts optimistic rollup to optimize transactions and further reduce gas costs. Perfectly compatible with Ethereum and extremely easy to deploy, Optimism enjoys broad support from developers for its streamlined experience. The launch of the OP token earlier this year proved the popularity of this scaling solution.
What advantages does Optimism have in minting or trading NFTs? For those who trust the security of Ethereum and look for more affordable transaction costs, developer-friendly Optimism is a wise choice.
An excellent example to illustrate this is tofuNFT’s expansion onto Optimism. The NFT marketplace has witnessed 51% growth in unique users and transactions over 30 days. Notably, Optimism’s user numbers and transactions have significantly surpassed those on Ethereum. A more detailed comparison is as follows.
Learn how to connect Optimism to Metamask in the following video.
Another noteworthy dapp is Quixotic, a native NFT marketplace on Optimism that made its debut on Optimism in January this year. Quixotic is currently sending over 12,000 monthly users to the blockchain, generating $ 500,000 over the last 30 days.
Arbitrum: an NFT Alliance getting stronger
Arbitrum is another layer 2 scaling solution that employs optimistic rollup. It inherits Ethereum’s security and supports Ethereum smart contracts and tooling while offering extremely cheap and fast transactions.
Regarding the NFT landscape, we notice that a strong network dubbed NFT Alliance was formed to lay the groundwork for the future NFT scene on Arbitrum. Currently, it has 21 NFT projects, 6 marketplaces, 4 gaming projects, and 4 DeFi projects in the alliance.
Zooming in, we found some exciting projects, such as Stratos, a sister marketplace of Quixotic, Arcane, an RPG adventure game, Random Walk NFT, a social experiment and generative art project, and more.
NFT Alliance is a voluntary, community-run project, so they do not represent the whole NFT landscape on Arbitrum. However, to a certain extent, the increase of projects in the NFT Alliance network can reflect the user’s support for the Arbitrum NFT infrastructure.
Immutable X: NFT flagship powered by StarkWare
Unlike the two mentioned above, StarkWare’s layer 2 product, StarkNet, uses zero-knowledge (ZK) rollup technology to solve Ethereum’s scaling problem. In response to the scalability issue existing in the Ethereum network, StarkWare designed StarkEx to be the tailor-made scaling engine to cater to the specific needs of NFT and DeFi dapps. Immutable X (IMX) is among the earliest to benefit from StarkEx’s powerful features.
Immutable X is the first layer 2 scaling protocol specifically serving NFTs and gaming dapps. Moreover, users can create ERC-721 and ERC-20 tokens with zero gas cost on its platform. With such cost-effectiveness and a unique value proposition, Immutable X has become the go-to place for many NFT games.
ZKSea: potentially an NFT marketplace for sports fans
Based on ZK-Rollups technology, L2 Labs launched ZKSpace, a full-featured protocol of layer 2, providing infrastructure for DEX, payment, and NFTs.
By leveraging ZK Rollups, ZKSea, an NFT marketplace powered by ZK Space, focuses on delivering a salable and affordable experience for the growing user base of NFTs.
ZKSea allows users to pay transaction fees in various cryptocurrencies such as ETH, USDT, WBTC, or the native token of ZK Space, ZKS. In comparison, Immutable X users must pay transaction fees with IMX only.
ZKSea has been putting effort into creating a unique positioning for the platform. Lately, the NFT marketplace has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Colombian football superstar James David Rodríguez Rubio.
The partnership will bring a featured collection of NFTs to ZKSea’s community. So, perhaps, ZKSea’s approach for differentiation is to build an NFT marketplace that caters to sports fans.
With NFTs generating mainstream interest, layer 2 solutions that make minting and trading faster, cheaper, more accessible, and scalable will play a vital role in further unleashing the potential of NFTs.
A considerable movement to migrate and deploy projects directly on layer 2 is already happening. According to the graph below, we can see that more and more Ethereum gas is being used for layer 2 transactions, reaching an all-time peak on June 1st. On that day, 3.95 billion of the daily 100 billion gas limit was spent to settle L2 transactions.
In the foreseeable future, the layer 2 space will witness more intense competition. But this may be good for developers, NFT users, and creators because protocols will focus on differentiation, customization, and providing unique service to their users.