Topics NFT
Bybit Learn
Bybit Learn
Beginner
Mar 21, 2022

What Are Blue Chip NFTs — and Are They a Good Investment?

blue chip nfts

Investing in NFTs (non-fungible tokens) has become the new wild west of the crypto world. But with so many projects in the space, it can be hard to keep up — and easy to get scammed. 

The current big trends in the NFT space are in crypto art, music, gaming, and TV shows. Many people think buying an NFT is like buying a link to an image or video clip on the web, but that’s a simplification. Holding an NFT actually gives you the sole right to sell that NFT, as well as a variety of additional benefits that include access to exclusive communities, the right to intellectual property, eligibility for exclusive content and airdrops, and more. 

While NFTs are technically similar to any cryptocurrency on a foundational level, they have one key difference: Every NFT has its own unique serial number. Most cryptocurrencies are interchangeable, but NFTs are always unique, making them the ideal medium for proving ownership.

The ever-growing popularity of NFTs has naturally led some of them to “blue chip” status, especially as more people look into NFT investing.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at what blue-chip NFTs are and how they’re different from blue-chip assets in traditional finance, and at some examples of blue-chip NFT projects. 

What Are Blue-Chip NFTs?

Blue-chip NFTs refers to non-fungible tokens whose value has skyrocketed, with market watchers believing these digital assets can retain their high valuation for a long time to come. Factors that are used to determine whether an NFT has “blue chip” status include brand recognition, community engagement, use cases and utility, celebrity endorsements, and floor price and sales volume. 

In the traditional stock world, a “blue chip” refers to a company that’s well-established and globally recognized for being a reliable investment. Blue-chip companies generally provide high-quality products and services, and are known to weather downturns and generate profit even in the face of adverse economic conditions. 

Poker chips in different colors. Image source: Unsplash

The term “blue chip” comes from the game of poker. In 19th-century America, blue chips had the highest value in poker games. The term was reportedly first used to describe high-priced stocks in the 1920s by a Dow Jones employee, who noticed certain stocks trading at $200—$250 per share. Over the course of the century, “blue-chip” has come to refer to more than just high-priced stocks. These days, the term more accurately refers to stocks offered by financially stable companies that have withstood the test of time. 

In the crypto world, cryptocurrencies that would qualify as blue chips are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Bitcoin is the most established cryptocurrency, and while its price may be volatile, it’s still managed to maintain an increasingly high value over the past dozen years. Ethereum has also grown tremendously in value, despite its network congestion woes. As the main platform for NFTs, it’s likely to remain popular for many more years.

It’s only natural that the concept of blue-chip assets would extend to NFTs. The NFT boom of 2021 has made history, especially since several NFT projects sold for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. A handful of projects have emerged in recent years that could qualify for blue-chip status, and blue-chip NFT collections are likely to become more common as the market continues to grow. 

Blue-Chip Assets in Traditional Finance

Image source: Unsplash

Traditional blue-chip assets are generally a component of the most reputable indexes or averages, including Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), NASDAQ-100 in the U.S., and the FTSE UK Index. There are no specific criteria for how big a company needs to be to receive blue-chip status, but the generally accepted benchmark is a market capitalization of $5 billion. 

Stocks from blue-chip companies are considered less volatile than stocks from companies without that distinction. They have a large market capitalization, little to no debt, stable debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio, and high return on assets (ROA) and return on equity (ROE). While not all blue-chip companies pay out dividends, most blue chips have a long history of paying out stable or rising dividends. Blue-chip stocks are also highly liquid because they’re frequently traded by both institutional investors and individuals. Holders of blue-chip stocks in need of quick cash are guaranteed to make a sale because there will always be buyers. 

Blue-chip companies are typically leaders of a particular market or sector. Some examples of multinational corporations with blue-chip status include Disney, Walmart, IBM, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo. Investors can track the performance of blue-chip stocks using blue-chip indices, such as the DJIA, S&P 500, the New Europe Blue Chip Index (NTX), and the DAX Index. 

How Are Blue-Chip NFTs Different?

Blue chips in the traditional finance world are all about longevity, reliability and quality. Since the NFT market is still fairly new, it would be incorrect to ascribe the characteristics of conventional blue-chip stocks to blue-chip NFTs. Factors like ROE, ROA and equity-to-debt ratio don’t really apply. Market capitalization could apply, but very few NFT collections have existed long enough to have accumulated a noteworthy market cap. 

Hundreds of NFTs have been minted since the market boom of 2021 with more being added every day, and a majority will never be considered blue chips. Currently, only a handful of NFT projects can qualify as blue chips based solely on their market value. In simplest terms, blue-chip NFTs refers to NFT projects that are expected to maintain a high value well into the future. 

What Makes a Blue-Chip NFT?

Image source: Unsplash

Since it’s not a good idea to ascribe the characteristics of traditional blue-chip stocks to blue-chip NFTs, what would be considered the hallmarks of blue chips in the NFT industry? There are several factors investors should consider: 

The Content

The first factor to consider if you’re in the market for a blue-chip NFT is its content. Is it artwork, avatars, music, a video file or an in-game item? Is it unique and fresh, or is it a derivative of an already existing project?

NFT avatars, or profile pictures (NFT PFPs), are currently the hottest trend, making up the lion’s share of the NFT market. As such, a large number of newly released projects are derivatives of CryptoPunks, which pioneered the NFT avatar style. Look to NFT collections that are already on their way to blue-chip status to confirm if a project is unique.

Name recognition

Artists with a big following before entering the NFT space are much more likely to launch a project that’s considered valuable. For example, Beeple, who made history after selling one NFT artwork for a whopping $69 million at Christie’s in March 2021, was already an established digital artist before he dipped his feet into the NFT world.

Floor price and sales volume

The higher an NFT’s floor price, the more valuable it is. When a high floor price is coupled with significant trading activity, an NFT may be a contender for blue-chip status. Sales volume is what validates a steep floor price; it indicates a project has natural buoyancy. For example, the NFTs released by Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoPunks can be considered blue chips because of their floor price and sales volume.

Development team and vision

The dev team behind a collection is as important as (or even more important than) the artist. The devs are responsible for coding the smart contract that creates the NFT and its utility features. The skill and track record of the development team is crucial when assessing the value of their work. Anonymous dev teams are suspicious — and are more likely to disappear once a project launches. Devs who are open and active in the development of a project — even after its launch — inspire confidence in the project’s success. 

Use cases and utility

NFTs have evolved far beyond simple cartoon profile pictures that exist on the blockchain. Many projects have added new use cases and utility features to drum up hype and ensure a project’s longevity. Some of the use cases projects offer holders include special airdrops, exclusive merch, early access to new NFT releases, invitations to real-life events, and more. 

Celebrity or investor endorsements

Celebrity endorsement early in a project’s life can sometimes make it or break it. Celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Post Malone, Steph Curry, Reese Witherspoon and Jimmy Fallon have all endorsed NFTs. The clout they bring to a project can help it obtain blue-chip status. Of course, you should still do your own research, instead of blindly following a project because of celebrity backing. 

Notoriety and community activity

The community built around an NFT project is a good indicator of its potential. The larger and more active a community, the more promising the project’s future. Think of it as joining a sports team, or a college fraternity or sorority. A community can also be a form of utility: Some projects give NFT holders exclusive access to a private community. For example, Bored Ape Yacht Club has an exclusive community that can only be accessed by Bored Ape NFT holders. 

Examples of Blue-Chip NFTs

Now that we’ve talked about some of the factors that make a blue-chip NFT, let’s take a look at some top choices for NFT collections that are widely considered to have earned that status.

CryptoPunks 

Punk #5822 broke the previous sales record after it was sold in February 2022 for the equivalent of $23.7 million. Image source: Larva Labs

CryptoPunks is one of the pioneers of the NFT space. It’s a collection of 10,000 NFTs minted on Ethereum and released by Larva Labs back in 2017, making it one of the very first crypto-collectible projects. Back then, anyone could acquire a CryptoPunks NFT image — as long as they paid for the Ethereum gas fees. Today, owning an NFT from this collection is akin to owning a rare one-of-a-kind Rolex watch. 

The NFT collection, which is made up of pixel-based avatars of people, apes, zombies and aliens, has made numerous headlines in recent years. In June 2021, a rare alien Punk (#7523) sold at Sotheby’s for $11.7 million. In February 2022, Punk #5822 broke the previous sales record after it was sold for

$23.7 million (8,000 ETH).

According to Larva Labs, the CryptoPunks collection has a total lifetime sales value of $1.99 billion, which is unsurprising — considering the project’s numerous multi-million-dollar sales, as well as high-profile auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The starting price for an original CryptoPunk on NFT marketplaces is over $200,000. 

Bored Apes 

Image source: Bored Ape Yacht Club

Bored Ape Yacht Club is the new kid on the block — who managed to pick up some serious steam in a very short amount of time. Like CryptoPunks, this project features a collection of 10,000 NFTs, in this case all cartoon apes with randomly generated expressions, fur, clothing, accessories, and other traits. These features are used by the BAYC community to determine an ape’s rarity. 

The Bored Ape NFTs were minted on Ethereum by Yuga Labs in early 2021. This was the first project that expanded on the CryptoPunks model by adding a road map, an exclusive community, and other additional perks and benefits for holders. It rose to prominence, thanks to endorsements from several celebrities that include Jimmy Fallon, Paris Hilton, Eminem, Justin Bieber, Shaquille O'Neal and Steph Curry. 

The most expensive NFT from the collection is Bored Ape #232, which sold for the equivalent of $2.85 million (1,080.69 ETH) in January 2022. The market capitalization for the collection reached $2.5 billion in March 2022, according to data from CoinGecko. The floor price for a Bored Ape is over $250,000, making the collection one of the most valuable on the NFT market.

Bored Ape Yacht Club has been such a resounding success that Larva Labs recently sold the rights to its CryptoPunks and Meebits IP to Yuga Labs. Larva Labs admitted that it didn’t have the skill set required to maintain its stewardship over the two NFT collections. It’s going to let Yuga Labs take over and handle the future of CryptoPunks and Meebits, and their respective communities.

Cool Cats 

Some of the NFTs in the Cool Cats collection. Image source: Cool Cats

Cool Cats is another fresh addition that followed in Bored Ape Yacht Club’s footsteps by achieving incredible growth over a short period of time. This collection, which was created in July 2021, features 9,999 blue cartoon cats with randomly generated hairstyles, hats, accessories, expressions and clothing. The project has managed to capture the internet’s love for cats. Each Cool Cat is completely unique, and fans have used the random combination of body, face and outfit to rank the cats based on their “cool” factor. Holders of NFTs from the collection gain exclusive access to NFT raffles, airdrops, community giveaways, priority minting for future Cool Cats projects, and more. While Cool Cats hasn’t reached the heights of CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club, it has managed to snag the #3 spot in sales volume and popularity. The floor price for a Cool Cat NFT is almost $20,000, according to data from CoinGecko. Its total market cap reached $197 million in March 2022.

Doodles 

A sample of the 10,000 NFTs in the Doodles collection. Image source: Doodles

Doodles is another collection of 10,000 profile picture (PFP) NFTs that feature colorful line-drawn avatars randomly generated using hundreds of visual traits. The project is the creation of Scott “Burnt Toast” Martin, Evan “Tulip” Keast, and Jordan “Poopie” Castro. The collection was launched on Ethereum in October 2021 at 0.123 ETH per mint. 

The Doodles team has made a deliberate effort to make the project community-centered from the very start. It rewarded early supporters with priority minting, and continues to encourage community participation by giving Doodle holders the power to vote on road map proposals. A portion of the sales revenue is held in a DAO treasury, and Doodle holders have the right to vote on how the team should put that capital to work. 

This community-driven approach has paid off, helping the project gain significant momentum. According to CoinGecko, the floor price of a Doodle NFT has reached just over $35,000. As of March 2022, the market cap of the collection is over $350 million.

Are Blue-Chip NFTs a Good Investment?

Blue-chip NFTs can be a good investment, but most of them are prohibitively expensive. The uniqueness of every NFT means that even NFTs from the same collection can have wildly different prices. If you’re a new investor, start with the cheapest one in the collection. They are affordable and are typically the easiest to resell for a quick profit. 

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to invest, try searching for NFTs that have the potential to acquire blue-chip status in the future. Of course, that won’t be easy: Thousands of NFTs are minted daily, and finding future blue chips will take effort. 

Look up great teams who are releasing (or planning to release) long-term NFT projects that haven’t yet drummed up a lot of hype. Opportunities for lucrative gains are still possible, especially now that mainstream marketplaces like eBay are also joining the NFT craze. Every blue-chip NFT started somewhere, and you may be lucky enough to snag one that’s on the cusp of shooting to the moon.

The Bottom Line on Blue-Chip NFTs

The NFT space is still nascent and very few projects qualify for “blue chip” status. More blue-chip NFTs will likely continue to emerge as the NFT market continues to mature. Knowing which project might be a future blue-chip might be difficult, due to the overall lack of long-term data. But the factors we’ve covered can make your decision easier. To learn more about NFTs, check out our guide to NFTs and visit the

Bybit NFT marketplace to make your first purchase!