NFTs

Bridging the L1-L2 NFT divide

Exploring early experiments around multi-chain NFTs!
William M. Peaster William M. Peaster Feb 3, 20223 min read
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Bridging the L1-L2 NFT divide

Dear Bankless Nation,

After my previous post on why Ethereum still dominates NFTs, a reader asked me about how multi-chain NFT activities will look going forward.

In other words, can you hold an NFT on the Ethereum L1 while still doing things with it on L2 scaling solutions? What about vice versa, or just straightforward NFT bridging efforts?

I’m aware of a handful of projects that are developing or exploring various approaches here currently, and I think we’ll see a lot more to come too. But what are the ones to watch today?

Let’s dive into these efforts to bridge the L1-L2 NFT divide.

-WMP


Two chains, one NFT

Ethereum’s development roadmap entails a sea of scaling solutions that will serve as external execution environments for Ethereum transactions. Think DeFi, NFTs, and so forth, all made incredibly inexpensive and fast forevermore.

Over time, the UX frictions we face around the early L2 scene will be increasingly smoothened out and improved upon. Yet here we are now in the earliest days of this scene, and it’s coinciding with the ongoing NFT ecosystem boom; this has led to a surge of interest lately around multi-chain NFT activities.

Presently it’s easy enough to mint and sell NFTs directly on Ethereum or to mint and sell directly on L2s. But where things are much trickier in these early pioneering times is figuring out how best to handle multi-chain NFT actions. It’s a totally open area of exploration right now. For example, below see how dom — the mind behind projects like Blitmaps and Loot — recently worked through some related thoughts on Twitter.

There’s no singular way forward, as we’ll see a variety of different approaches toward different ends in the years ahead. Some will be simpler, some will be more advanced. And some L2 NFT innovations we can’t even fathom yet. All that said, there are a handful of NFT projects that are exploring multi-chain activities in the here and now. Let’s check out their approaches below.


Axie Infinity: hard migration

Leading NFT game Axie Infinity undertook its Great Migration to the Ronin sidechain in Apr. 2021. This entailed Axie Infinity pausing its marketplace and tokens on Ethereum and users permanently transferring their NFTs to Ronin. (Mind you, you can still transfer ETH and ERC20s in and out of the Axie economy via the Ronin bridge).

Cool Cats: hybrid split

The Cool Cats expansion collection, Cool Pets, arrived this week, and this sets up the Cool Cats project’s new gaming elements to begin shortly. Notably, these gaming elements will take place on the Polygon PoS sidechain, through which players will earn GOLD. This token will be used for buying items on Polygon or claiming MILK tokens back on the Ethereum L1.

Fast Food Nouns: stake-and-clone

I’m a fan of Fast Food Nouns because I think the project’s creator Jake Allen is a really creative and talented developer. Notably, one of his new experiments is a staking system that lets Fast Food Noun holders bridge over and re-clothe their NFTs on Polygon. These clones are non-transferable and are meant for gaming. “We did this because owners wanted to maintain the primacy of the Ethereum collection and to unstake whenever they want,” Jake has noted.

Immutable Apes X: L2-to-L1 and back

Late last year, the Immutable Apes X project unveiled IMX Tools. This resource lets users transfer NFTs from Immutable X, a validum L2 scaling solution custom-tailored for NFT projects, to Ethereum and back again.

Trove x Mural: L1 escrow

Treasure, an NFT marketplace project on Arbitrum, is developing an L1 Ethereum marketplace dubbed Trove. Yet Trove’s NFT listings won’t be siloed to Ethereum and will work on Arbitrum too thanks to a partnership with Composable Finance, which has developed the NFT bridging system Mural.

To be determined: multi-chain composable

NFT actions on one chain affecting a version of that NFT on another chain, or simply triggering NFT actions across chains, is multi-chain composability. This design space is very early, but oracle projects like UMA’s Optimistic Oracle are pointing toward interesting possibilities already.


Conclusion

I think the L1-L2 NFT arena is going to see an explosion of further experiments and development advances going forward. In the meantime, the handful of examples illustrated above show you some of the main approaches that contemporary NFT projects are taking around L1-L2 matters today. Tread cautiously while things are still early here, but a little curiosity is warranted too!


Action steps

William M. Peaster

Written by William M. Peaster

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William M. Peaster, Senior Writer, has been with Bankless since January 2021. Immersed in Ethereum since 2017, he writes the Metaversal newsletter on the onchain frontier, covering everything from AI projects to crypto games, as the team’s lead NFT analyst. With a background in creative writing, he writes fiction and publishes art on Ethereum in his free time. He lives in Washington.

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