'Bored Apes' shoots for the moon

Few things have been more fascinating and frustrating to witness in 2021 than the rise of million-dollar NFT profile pic projects. The collections of 10,000 procedurally generated JPGs earning market caps of hundreds of millions at the hands of seemingly naked speculation have bewildered skeptics and enriched acolytes.

The promise for most of these projects has that, given enough money and community support, a culture and brand can emerge from the ether. Such has been the pitch of Bored Apes Yacht Club (BAYC), which has become the break-out NFT project of the year as more users have raced to buy the pictures of monkeys and sent floor prices soaring to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Part of that value has been centered on the belief that BAYC can become a cultural touchstone, and the group took a big step toward that goal today, announcing that they've partnered with blockchain gaming unicorn Animoca Brands to release a Bored Apes-themed game next year.

The game has an admittedly steep challenge ahead of it, building a mainstream game around a community with a prohibitively expensive barrier to entry. Weighing the exclusivity of the core NFT project with the democratization of assets needed to build up a substantial user base is a balance that has yet to be achieved, or even attempted, at scale.

The company's press release announcing the title had scant details to share other than that the game will feature so-called "play-to-earn" mechanics and is targeting a Q2 2022 release date. Yuga Labs, the developer behind BAYC, has previously detailed that they are working on a token tied to the project.

In October, Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands raised $65 million at a $2.2 billion valuation.