Rival fandoms abound in pop culture. Marvel vs DC Comics. Pokemon vs. Digimon. So it was only a matter of time before NFT artists and fans divided into two camps.
Enter Bored Ape Yacht Club vs. Meebits, two projects that embody the contrasting creeds within the NFT movement, perhaps fated to become natural adversaries.
Meebits represents the influence of early adopters, the latest from the powerhouse Larva Labs whose pixel art CryptoPunks have headlined sales at elite auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Bored Apes is the underdog. A collection of 10,000 unique NFTs, it’s a more grass roots project that espouses fair access for buyers, and doesn’t truck with the velvet rope approach of its rival. And in the early innings of the contest, it looks like the apes might have the edge.
“Punks/Meebits are an elitist crowd,” said an OG NFT collector who has owned Punks since 2018 and is now a member of the Bored Ape Discord. “Apes are the complete opposite.”
Meebits are algorithmically generated 3D voxel characters, and are visually similar to Minecraft avatars. They include asset packs with full 3D models that can be animated or imported into Metaverse games. Meebits was founded in May by Larva Labs, the same outfit that created CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs, two legendary generative art projects that paved the way for much of the NFT space.
The launch triggered controversy because it was so pricey and exclusive. Out of 20,000 total Meebits, 9,000 were released for public sale via a Dutch auction format starting at 2.5 ETH (roughly $10k at the time of their launch on May 3). The other 11,000 were reserved for collectors who already owned Cryptopunks and Autoglyphs, with each Cryptopunk and Autoglyph capable of minting one Meebit for free.
Unique Ape Avatars
It was a savvy marketing move: Rewarding pre-existing Punk and Glyph holders instantly brought in influential OG NFT collectors and generated hype about Meebits. Moreover, it sent a message that long-standing collectors would continually be rewarded for holding Larva Labs’ NFTs. If that wasn’t enough, giving Meebits gratis to collectors of CryptoPunks (which currently sport floor prices around $35k) while charging $10K entry for everyone else reinforced the sentiment that Meebits are cash grabs that make rich collectors even richer–or as one ape collector put it on Twitter, “2.5 ETH is some crazy rich people stuff.”
Bored Apes, on the other hand, is a collection of unique ape avatars that express myriad vibes, attitudes, and moods–like an Ape wearing an aviator hat with the bloodshot eyes tof a stoner. While Bored Apes are conceptually similar to pre-existing NFT-based avatar projects like Avastars, Bored Ape Yacht Club spotlights the community element for collectors. For instance, owning an ape grants collectors entry to a special “Bathroom” section on the official BAYC website where they can write digital graffiti on a communal wall. BAYC also hosts an active Discord community.
When it came to running its own launch, BAYC offered a low entry cost to maximize accessibility. Of 10,000 total apes, 9,970 were available to mint at 0.08 ETH (around $270 in early May.. The remaining 30 apes were withheld for the creators’ own memberships, and may be used in the future as prizes for community activities. As for marketing, Bored Apes relied on the power of their cool aesthetics and the budding Discord community of Ape fans.
“I like the community and the art,” said “BigFundamental1,” a Bored Ape collector. “The apes just have a certain appeal to them. They convey a lot of personality. And the community is really welcoming and warm for the most part. As far as Meebits go, they never really seemed attainable to me because prices were really high from the beginning. They seemed more like a reward for Punk holders than something that was meant for new participants.”
At first glance, it might seem strange that this pair of NFT projects, of all the countless ones out there, are the two that fans have rallied around. It’s hard to predict what’s going to get hot in the highly subjective world of art. After Bored Apes and Meebits picked up traction in early May (BAYC technically launched in late April), their contrasting launch structures highlighted the debates shaping the NFT movement, and the tension between community and commerce.
In any event, both projects sold out quickly. All 9,000 publicly available Meebits were purchased within 6 hours. Upon garnering the attention of NFT influencers on Twitter like Pranksy and DJ 3LAU, all 10,000 Bored Apes sold out within a few days after launch, too.
Now NFT fans are watching closely to see which project comes out on top. Even though Meebits is backed by the brand clout of Larva Labs and is geared toward the crypto elite, Bored Apes is proving that affordable, fair launch NFTs could be just as valuable, if not more valuable. Thus began memes of the “Flippening,” a hypothetical legendary moment when floor-priced Bored Apes would become more valuable than floor-priced Meebits.
Meebit resale prices caught fire right out of the gate. On May 4, just one day after launch, a rare Alien Meebit broke OpenSea’s highest NFT sale record, netting $1.4M. But while Meebits with rare traits were selling for a pretty penny, floor price Meebits–the lowest-priced Meebits with common traits–were selling well below the 2.5 ETH minting price. In other words, unless you randomly generated a rare Meebit, most were turning out to be a middling investment.
Meanwhile, aftermarket prices for Bored Ape are on the rise. As it happens, Bored Apes had been a great investment for anyone who minted. Even floor Apes were selling well above the 0.08 ETH mint price.
On May 30, the NFT influencer Pranksy, who owns a large number of both Apes and Meebits, tweeted that the flippening was “getting closer,” with the Bored Ape floor at .5 ETH and the Meebits floor at .7 ETH.
Then, on June 1, a rare Bored Ape sold for 50 ETH ($128k at time of purchase). And while this price was still lower than the highest prices paid for rare Meebits, it solidified BAYC as a high-value NFT project. After that, as the saying goes, the monkey was out of the bag.
Beeple posted an original artwork of an army of Bored Apes attacking a rare Pig Meebit. The Defiant’s Head of Video, Robin Schmidt, responded a few days later with a video of his own Pig Meebit. But Meebit owners couldn’t stop the inevitable.
Moreover, overall BAYC sales have topped both Meebits and CryptoPunks over the past 30 days, according to “NFT Collectible Rankings by Sales Volume” data on CryptoSlam. Bored Apes generated $23M in sales with 2,363 buyers. Meebits generated $4.5M with 412 buyers. This seems to show that Apes are, indeed, appealing to a wider customer base.
Of course, fan rivalries are almost always tongue-in-cheek to some extent. Just as many comic book fans enjoy both DC and Marvel, Apes and Meebits collectors are oftentimes one and the same.
Hype and Engagement
“There was never any real ‘beef’ between Meebit holders and BAYC,” said “NGBxBen,” a Bored Ape collector. “BAYC is full of Meebit holders and plenty of Meebit holders are Apes. From inside the club it was all playful fun…just shitposting memes in good spirit. Sadly, the narrative took a turn when more notable folks began to lead the story in respect to it being an actual fight between who is better.”
But memes are fun, and rivalries, even tongue-in-cheek ones, can still generate hype and engagement — both vital for any thriving collectible market.
“It’s been funny to see how it’s increased awareness for both projects,” said Pranksy.