September 29, 2023

NFT gas usage shows downward trend, signals shift in landscape

Ethereum gas consumption by nonfungible tokens (NFTs) has dropped significantly since its high in 2021. NFT marketplaces and projects that occupied top spots in gas consumption at the time have declined sharply in the past two years.

Data shared by the on-chain analytics platform Glassnode shows that gas usage by NFT marketplaces is currently on a downward trend. This indicates a possible shift in terms of NFT use, where more users may be opting to hold on to their assets instead of trading them on marketplaces.

Etherscan’s top 10 contracts or accounts consuming gas on Aug. 4, 2021. Source: The Wayback Machine

In 2021, NFTs were leading the charts in terms of Ethereum gas usage, according to blockchain explorer Etherscan. On Aug. 4, 2021, NFT gaming project Axie Infinity placed second in terms of gas usage due to its Ronin bridge, which transfers assets from Ethereum to the Ronin blockchain. On the same day, NFT marketplace OpenSea was in fourth spot on the list.

Related: Ethereum gas fees cool down after May memecoin frenzy

However, jumping forward to 2023, crypto analytics platform Nansen revealed that NFT marketplaces only accounted for just over 3% of the entire gas consumption in a weekly period in May. This happened amid a surge in Ether (ETH) gas prices at the time and sparked theories that NFTs were only a “product of excess liquidity” due to money printing during the pandemic.

Today, gas consumption by NFTs continues its decline. Currently, the gas consumption of Blur, OpenSea, SuperRare, LooksRare and Rarible only account for roughly 1.85% of the gas consumption for the entire Ethereum network. 

In addition, OpenSea and Axie Infinity — projects that once topped the charts in Etherscan’s top gas users — are nowhere to be seen in the top 50 list. However, while marketplaces are nowhere to be seen in terms of gas consumption, NFT marketplace Blur still sits around Etherscan’s top 30 spot for gas consumers at the time of writing.

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