With so many lookalike NFTs out there, many people might wonder why many of them look the same. Moreover, why are some NFTs incredibly valuable, and other lookalike NFTs are not?

I’ve taken a good long look at the “lookalike NFT landscape,” and I’ve figured out why so many NFTs look the same. This article will help you understand what’s going on with all these lookalikes and copycats. 

Disclosure: I’m not a financial advisor, and the following article is not financial advice. If you need financial advice, seek a qualified professional.

Why Are There So Many Lookalikes?

So why so many lookalikes? There are really two main reasons for this feature of the NFT market:

  1. Simple, cute art has tended to do well in the first significant year of NFT sales
  2. There are many derivative projects that come on the market, which each copy another existing successful NFT project. 

Keeping it simple, really simple.

Cute, simple art is just as it sounds, and for an NFT community that has been primarily focused on PFPs (Profile Picture) in the past few years, people have gravitated to using cute art for PFPs.

A classic example of this is the project Doodles, which you can see examples of on OpenSea here. Doodles are one of the early examples of cute, simple art, recognizable by rounded edges and colorful schema. 

Another example of simple art that has done well is the type of pixelated art seen in collections like Cryptopunks.

Cryptopunks was launched in 2017 by Matt Hall and John Watkinson but really started to gain attention in early 2021 when the collection of NFTs dramatically increased in value and began garnering the interest of major auction houses like Christie’s.

Curious how Crypto Punks were created? Check this link out.

However, the pixelated art didn’t end with Cryptopunks, as many derivative projects with pixelated art soon emerged in the NFT space. 

Example of Doodles
Example of Doddles listed for sale on OpenSea

Derivative or Rip Off

A derivative project is just that – a derivative of another pre-existing NFT project, which typically performed well on the market.

In other words, derivatives are copy-cat projects that produce similar art, hoping that their project will perform similarly well in the market. Yet derivatives are not straight-up copied NFT art or projects. Those are legit scams.

This is where a majority of the similar-looking NFTs come from. If we take the same example, Doodles, we could compare this to a famously similar NFT art project called Squiggles.

Squiggles’ art was so similar to the Doodles art that its project founders were accused of stealing the art outright. 

The reality is that there are NFTs that are similar in appearance out there on the market, and this will continue to be the case in the future.

You should be asking yourself, how does this similar art impact me as an NFT buyer? Let’s examine that question.

Example of Squiggles NFTs

How Do Lookalike NFTs Impact NFT Buyers?

So, there are plenty of similar-looking NFTs out there, but how can you tell which ones are good and which ones are bad? In other words, how can you decide which ones to buy, and what gives you the confidence that you’ve purchased an original vs. a copy?

Asking yourself these questions may give you clarity on your NFT purchases so that the look-alike NFT landscape doesn’t negatively impact you.  

If You’re Buying the NFT for the Art Alone

The answer to the questions above lies in why you’re buying the NFT in the first place. You may be buying the NFT out of sheer appreciation for the art.

This is very cool to do, and you can end up creating great relationships with artists and help support their careers.

In this case, if it looks good and you can afford it, buy it. If you find yourself in this situation, just go with your gut. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Another possibility is that you want to buy the NFT for the art alone, but also because of its rarity. If you really love an artist and they have released a limited edition NFT of some fantastic art, you may want to get it because you love the artist and the NFT is in short supply.

In this case, you may want to buy the NFT art for bragging rights or out of some loyalty to the artist, and both of these can be good reasons to buy the NFT.  Plus, there are many things you can do with your NFT after buying it.

If You’re Buying the NFT for Profit

If you’re buying the NFT to profit from it, you probably want to take a closer look to determine if there is real value in what you’re buying or whether you may be looking at a derivative NFT.

Here is where it may get exciting to do a little digging to see if you’re looking at an authentic NFT project with appealing art or a decoy, copy-cat project. 

Does it look like a blue-chip NFT project?

You may want to quickly check that your NFT art of interest doesn’t look like an existing BlueChip NFT project. In other words, be sure it’s not just a direct rip-off of a well-known and successful project. 

Most of the time you have a derivative project, which has little value on its own, it will closely mimic a Blue Chip project with high value. This is something to keep an eye out for and avoid if you’re careful with your investments.

The easiest way to get duped into investing in a worthless project is by blindly putting your money in a derivative that looks like a Blue Chip.

This is not uncommon and is often done based on the wrong assumption that if the blue-chip project was so successful and the derivative looks like the blue-chip project, then the derivative project will also be successful. Don’t fall for the trap!

Is There a Strong Following for the Project on Social Media?

In order to determine whether there is a strong following behind the NFT, look at two social media platforms: Twitter and Discord.

Typically, if there is a strong following behind the NFT project, many people will follow the official Twitter account of the project.

Similarly, if there is a lot of interest in the project in the NFT community, there will be many people on the Discord server for the project.

If there is a strong Twitter following and many people in the project’s Discord, it is not a guarantee that you’re looking at a legitimate NFT project, but it’s a good indication of this. Like anything, due diligence is critical in any buy.

Understanding Followers

When looking at the number of Twitter followers and Discord members, there’s no definitive number of followers that separates a legitimate NFT project from a sham project. Still, there are a few numbers to keep in mind. 

If the official Twitter account of an NFT project has fewer than 20,000 followers just before launch, you may want to stay away from it or reconsider.

Legitimate NFT projects that end up doing well on the market almost always have more than 20K Twitter followers on their official Twitter account, which kind of reflects the market’s interest in the project. 

If there are not at least 15,000 members on the project’s Discord server, then you may want to avoid buying into this NFT project. This means that there really isn’t that much interest in the project, and there is not a well-established community that will help the project succeed. 

Even if the art looks good, there may not be the support needed to really drive the project to have value on the market. Generally, these low-interest projects will have steep declines in value. Wait for a project where the art is good, and there is also a strong following in the project. 

Example of Azuki NFTs. Check out their Official Twitter page.

Finding the Positive Trending Themes in NFT Sales

Now that I’ve shared why it’s not a good idea to invest in derivative NFT projects that model themselves off of blue-chip projects let me tell you about an exception to the rule and a scenario when you do want to invest in projects with similar art. 

Sometimes, when a leading blue-chip project is wildly successful, it sets off a trend in which similar projects perform well on the market.

In this case, these similar projects are not direct rip-offs of the original art but may fall in the same genre as the leading blue-chip project. Because of their stylistic proximity to the Blue Chip, they can ride the Blue Chip’s wave of success.

For example, take the wildly successful Blue Chip NFT project, Azuki. Azuki is an NFT project with anime-style skateboarder avatars, and it has been one of the most successful NFT projects of 2022.

When Azuki had its rise to fame, it kicked off a trend in the NFT space where anime-style NFT art performed relatively well. 

After the anime-style trend started to do well, some projects whose art was similar in the genre but not in appearance to Azuki did well themselves.

In this scenario, it’s worth noting when there is a positive trend in the genre of the art, even if none of the other successful anime projects copied the art of Azuki. 

Why Are We Attracted to the Familiar?

We are attracted to the familiar because of the “mere exposure effect.” The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them.

In the case of NFTs, this may explain why certain derivative projects poll well with those who have been in the community for a while and who have been exposed to the original NFT artwork of, say, a Doodles. 

In the NFT space, I think we’re also attracted to the familiar because we know which well-known projects have value, and so we associate some of those NFT attributes with having value as well.

For example, suppose you know that a pixelated Cryptopunk is very valuable. In that case, you may be drawn to other pixelated NFT art based on the feeling that all pixelated art has value. But remember, don’t fall for this trap!

If You Want to Create an NFT, How Do You Avoid Mimicking an Existing NFT Project?

This one boils down to the honor system. The only way you can create original art for an NFT project is to honestly create something authentic, then get it out there to see how the art is received.

Unless you spend excessive time scouring OpenSea for every last project to make sure your art doesn’t overlap too much with someone else’s art, you’re never going to be sure. 

Keep in mind that you have unique tastes and influences from other artists, so be confident that this combination will lead you to produce something original and yours.

So, perhaps, cross your fingers that nobody will claim you’ve copied their NFT art, build an awesome website to sell and market with and start spreading the news about your project. 

Final Thoughts

In summary, many NFTs look the same because cute, simple art simply works in the NFT space, and there are a lot of derivative NFT projects out there.

The cute, simple art tends to look the same because there aren’t too many intricacies that set it apart. The derivative projects look similar by design to pre-existing NFT projects to replicate their success. 

I’ve reviewed the signs you can look for when deciding whether to invest in an NFT project and what to look out for to avoid investing in a worthless derivative project. Plus, if you want to create your own NFT project, you know what not to do.

One other thing I highly suggest you do is to keep learning! The NFT game is constantly changing, and you need to be informed. I’ve listed some of the most viral articles we have to step up your knowledge game. Check out:

  1. How To Buy NFTs When They Drop in 3 Steps
  2. 10 Things That Make a Good NFT Project
  3. How Much Does It Cost to Mint 10,000 NFTs?