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What is an NFT Roadmap? NFT Roadmaps Explained

March 02, 2023 - 15 min read

NFT Roadmaps: How They Work, The Best NFT Roadmaps, and More

NFTs have become incredibly popular over the last few years, and there have never been more opportunities to invest in interesting and diverse NFT projects. One commonality among many of the most popular NFT projects in the market today is the use of a roadmap

A roadmap is, in essence, similar to a whitepaper for a crypto or blockchain project, except for NFTs. It generally lays out aspects such as the project’s mission statement and goals, various timelines or financial hurdles that the project plans to meet or exceed, any utility offered to the NFT holders, and any additional bonuses, such as exclusive airdrops or special events. 

While not all NFT projects have roadmaps, the vast majority do. Roadmaps can provide a sense of security for investors, who typically want to know that the NFT creators have a plan to both continuously promote their project and build a strong and durable project. They can also provide a certain level of accountability and transparency for a project. 

For instance, if a project has no or an unclear roadmap, or if they are continuously late to deliver on the roadmap’s promises, it could be a sign for investors to avoid the project or even for current investors to sell their NFTs. 

The best NFT projects don’t just have interesting art or a great story; they also provide a certain degree of utility to users. Some of the most effective ideas to provide utility to NFT holders include profit sharing, charitable giving, merchandise, and airdrops– each of which should be fully included and explained in the project’s roadmap. 

In this article, we’ll review the elements of a successful roadmap, discuss some of the top NFT roadmaps in the industry, as well as provide a few templates for NFT project creators who wish to create a comprehensive roadmap for their project. 

The Elements of a Successful NFT Roadmap 

A few of the most prominent (potential) elements of a successful NFT roadmap include: 

A Fully Explained Whitelisting and Launch Process

A whitelist announcement for the Iggy Boy NFT collection.

The initial launch process of an NFT project can be one of the most important factors in the project’s overall success or failure. Unfortunately, many NFT projects can have confusing or convoluted launch processes, which can turn off potential investors. A good NFT roadmap will explain exactly how users can get on a whitelist for an upcoming launch, as well as the exact date and time of the launch. For instance, being a pre-launch ambassador for the project and promoting the project on social media could qualify an individual for the whitelist, or alternatively, the whitelist could be first come, first serve (or even some combination of the two). 

This section of the roadmap should include the exact steps used to officially get on the whitelist after being selected, such as going through any necessary KYC process, as well as which wallet to send funds to in order to purchase the NFT, the planned floor price for the NFT, and what type (if any) of auction process is being used to determine the sale price of the NFTs. 

In addition to helping reduce uncertainty, providing detailed information can help prevent users from falling victim to fraudulent scams which may attempt to imitate the NFT project (some scams have even used phony whitelists to ensnare their victims). 

It should be noted that while launch information may change over time due to project or market conditions, interested individuals can (and should) be updated via social media and email of any major changes to the launch date or launch process. 

Clear Objectives and Timelines

An NFT Roadmap for the OxKarafuru NFT collection, which mentions various timetables for the execution of various parts of the project. 

While some NFT roadmaps are relatively fuzzy, the best NFT roadmaps typically contain exact project specifics. For instance, rewards may be provided to NFT holders upon the project being completely sold out or upon a certain profit hurdle being reached. 

Profit Sharing

A profit sharing and NFT benefits diagram from the RTS resort timeshare NFT collection. 

Buying NFTs, especially those from popular projects, can be quite expensive, and NFT creators can certainly earn a pretty penny if their project ends up going viral. However, one way to increase the utility and potential vitality of a project is to split some of those profits with the current holders. There are a variety of ways to do this. For example, the project may share 20% of all sales with users past a certain point where the project breaks even. This can be done by creating a smart contract that automatically deposits cryptocurrency in an NFT holder’s wallet upon a certain hurdle being reached. 

Another option may be to provide residual revenues to each holder of an NFT each time the NFT is sold. This can be done on the individual NFT level or the project level. For instance, if you own an NFT and sell it to another party, and they re-sell it, you could potentially earn some percentage of the sales price. Alternatively, a certain portion of the revenue could be sent into a pool and distributed to all holders of NFTs. These are just a few examples, as there are countless ways to make holding an NFT consistently profitable over time. 

Realistic Promises and Goals

Many NFT projects have a history of overpromising and under-delivering. However, in an ideal situation, the opposite occurs. In order to gain (and keep) the trust of their community, the creators of an NFT project should set reasonable goals that are more than likely to be fulfilled by the stated date or time. While it may be tempting to promise the moon in order to differentiate a project from competitors, this will typically only lead to reduced trust in the project, lower sales, and a weakened community. 

Charitable Donations

An online announcement for the Polychain Monster NFT collection’s charity raffle for those fleeing the war in Ukraine. 

While NFT projects are typically intended to generate profits for the creators and (hopefully) most of the holders, an NFT project can gain greater popularity and generate a positive impact by donating a certain percentage of revenues or profits to charity. Like NFT revenue sharing, there are quite a few ways to do this. One way is to donate a set amount of money to a specific charity upon the NFT project reaching a certain profit level. For instance, the project could donate $25,000 to a charity upon reaching $1 million in revenue or could even donate $25,000 for every million dollars generated. This can also be set as a percent of sales of profits. 

If an NFT provides user royalties upon the resale of the NFT, a certain percentage of these royalties could also go to a certain charity. While (almost) all charitable giving can have a positive impact, the NFT project may generate more buzz if the charity is aligned with the theme of the NFTs or with the organization that created the NFTs itself. 

Of course, NFTs can also be created completely for non-profit or charitable purposes without the expectation of profit. For example, fast food chain Taco Bell sold 25 taco-themed NFTs, with all of the profits going to fund the Taco Bell Foundation’s Live Más Scholarship. 

In addition, some NFT marketplaces and platforms are even facilitating charitable donations for NFT creators. For example, a new NFT marketplace, DoinGud, which launched in the summer of 2021, mandates that a minimum of 5% of all sales go to a charity or non-profit, which can be chosen by the NFT creator.

Merchandise 

Official merchandise from the Bored Ape Yacht Club online store

Offering free merchandise to NFT holders can be an excellent way to reward holders and increase the hype (and utility) of a project. This merchandise could be equally allocated to all holders (though this could get expensive); however, more likely, it will be reserved for initial holders, winners of a raffle, or those that have beaten a puzzle or game within a certain timeframe. Ideal merchandise varies between NFT projects. 

For example, some projects may decide to distribute inexpensive items, t-shirts, hoodies, and keychains. In contrast, other projects may provide higher-end rewards, such as original pieces of art by the artist(s) behind the collection or even collectible gold coins printed with the logo of the NFT projects. In theory, collections could even give away extremely high-ticket items like cars, though this would only make financial sense for the most profitable projects. 

Surprises and Games

A gameplay screenshot from the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s NFT-based RPG, Otherside

While a good NFT roadmap typically lays out a project’s plans in detail, there is still a lot of room for surprises. These surprises can be hinted at in the roadmap to help build up hype for the project and excite current and potential NFT holders. For instance, the creators of an NFT collection could announce an airdrop for current holders at a certain date without revealing the exact nature of the drop. 


Games can also be introduced into NFT collections and be announced via the NFT project’s roadmap. For instance, those who solve a specific puzzle or online game could be awarded a special airdrop, a monetary prize in crypto, a piece of merchandise, or maybe a spot on the whitelist for the creators’ next NFT project. Games and puzzles can greatly increase the interactivity of an NFT project and potentially strengthen the community as holders work together to solve a unique challenge. 

Fully Explained Governance 

Many NFT projects are fully controlled by the original creators, and a good project roadmap will provide at least some information about who the creators are and how decisions are made. Fully explained governance can also help investors alleviate concerns that the project could be a rug pull or created by a team with a dubious history in the crypto industry. 

While its true that many projects are creator-controlled, an increasing number of NFT projects have embraced an increased degree of decentralization, particularly via the formation of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), which can allow the holders of the NFT to govern the future of the project. 

A particular benefit of a DAO is that the NFT holders can be given partial or full control of the NFT project’s treasury (typically after the original creators have taken out at least a certain degree of funds), giving them the ability to vote on how funds are used. For instance, they may vote to allocate more funds to marketing to increase the virality (and hence the price) of NFTs, decide to contribute more funds to a charity, or vote on the type of airdrops that holders will receive in the future. 

The Top 5 NFT Roadmap Examples

Below, we’ll review some of the top NFT roadmaps in the industry today. 

1. Bored Ape Yacht Club

This one might be obvious, as it’s widely considered the most popular NFT collection in history. However, the Bored Ape Yacht Club didn’t get there by accident. Though the project has had some hiccups (like almost all NFT projects), it’s generally followed a clear, transparent plan detailed in the project’s roadmap. This has inspired additional confidence in the project and its creators. 

The first roadmap, which can be found on the BAYC website, has already been fully completed. The stages for the initial roadmap included: 

  1. 10%: We pay back our moms. 
  2. 20%: We release the Caged Apes. 5 Caged Apes (tokens held back from the sale) are airdropped to random Apeholders.
  3. 40%: BAYC gets its own YouTube channel, BAYC LoFi Radio – Beats to Ape into Shitcoins To.
  4. 60%: Member-Exclusive BAYC Merch Store gets unlocked, featuring Limited Edition tees, hoodies, and other goodies.
  5. 80%: The clubhouse image becomes interactive, and the Mysterious Note becomes legible, beginning a treasure hunt. The first to solve the mystery will be rewarded 5 ETH and a Bored Ape.
  6. 90%: The Bored Ape liquidity pool is initiated.
  7. 100%: The Mutant Ape (NFT Breeding) Arcade Machine gets fixed. And we cook up new ways to ape with our friends.

In contrast, the second BAYC roadmap (Roadmap 2.0) is visual in nature and actually features a real map. However, the stages are not numbered, which can be a bit confusing for viewers: 

2. Cool Cats

Cool Cats is yet another extremely popular NFT collection, which also provides a detailed roadmap. Like the Bored Ape Yacht Club, there are two roadmaps, one more text-based and the other (the second roadmap), which is an actual, visual map. 

The first roadmap details stages including: 

  1. Stage 1: New Website Launch and The Banner Builder:  A new Cool Cats website will launch with a few more bits of functionality as well as the long-awaited Banner Builder!
  2. Stage 2: 
    1. $MILK System Activated: Claim $MILK from the cats you own and use it in the creature system. 
    2. Creature Launch: The creature eggs and evolutions are activated. 
    3. Egg and Item System Launched: Buy items with $MILK and use them to develop your creature. 
  3. Stage 3: Paper Cats: A website and toolkit with NFT tutorials focused on new user and developer onboarding. 
  4. Stage 4: Winter Wonder: Our winter wonder festivities will begin; stay tuned for more info closer to the time! 
  5. Stage 5: Adventures Guild: After the creatures launch, we aim to launch stage 2 of our gamification. 
  6. Stage 6: Artist Spotlight V2: Our second Artist Spotlight airdrop will happen. Featured projects and artists will be decided by the team and community. 
  7. Stage 7: Additional Game & Creature Utility: Along with the current utility that will be in place, we have plans to introduce another chunky piece of utility for the creatures and Cool Cats holders. 
  8. Stage 8: A Place to Call Home: Once we have additional data from the creatures, we will introduce additional utility to them. 
  9. Stage 9: Charity Event: We plan to launch a large charity event. 
  10. Stage 10: The Fractures Begin!: The fractures are a story-based system/utility we aim to launch in Q2 2022. 
  11. Stage 11: Cool Cats Voting: All Cool Cats holders will be able to vote on upcoming events. 
  12. Stage 12: Creature Mayhem: This is a top-secret project, more information closer to the time!

Just like the BAYC roadmap, this second roadmap features a real map: 

3. Azuki 

Azuki is an NFT collection consisting of 10,000 hand-drawn samurai and skateboard characters created to resume traditional Japanese anime illustrations. Unlike most other NFT projects, they have branded their NFT roadmap as a “Mindmap.” Also, unlike most other NFT roadmaps, the Azuki Mindmap provides significantly more detail about the project; each square on the Mindmap is clickable and is regularly updated to reflect any changes in the project’s plans. 

The Azuki Mindmap is divided into several sections, including:

  1. Vision & Value: This section defines the brand’s values, including its community-first attitude, its creative nature, and the importance of patience. 
  2. Community: This section mentions that the project has a full-time moderation team, is in the progress of offering grants to builders, artists, and creatives, and mentions the community spaces Azuki has available. 
  3. Metaverse: This section discusses the current state of the Metaverse and how it impacts Azuki members and discusses both the fractionalization of one of their NFTs using the ERC-1155 token standard, as well as the potential (future) development of an Azuki game. 
  4. Physical World: This section describes Azuki’s efforts to bring the collection into the real world, including via the creation of upcoming streetwear and collectibles, as well as potential IRL events, such as meet-ups, exhibits, and music festivals. 
  5. Bridge Between: This section details Azuki’s plans to create a bridge between the physical and digital world and talks more about Azuki’s potential gaming plans, including a potential anime-inspired RPG. 
  6. Seedlings: This section talks about other ideas involving the expansion and governance of the Azuki brand and community, such as various partnerships, the development of DAOs, and the potential launch of Azuki’s $BEAN token. 
  7. Connect Your Mind: This section provides a text box where community members, fans, and the general public can submit ideas to the Azuki team. 

4. Lazy Lions

The Lazy Lions NFT collection consists of 10,000 unique generative NFTs, each consisting of an image of an anthropomorphic lion. Like the other NFT collections mentioned, it consists of both a written list and an illustration, though, unlike other NFT collections, this illustration provides almost no information about the Roadmap. 

  1. 0%: Private Island/Discord Channel: Lazy Lions’ private island in the Sandbox opened in late 2021. The island includes exclusive access to the Cabana Bar for Lazy Lion NFT holders. 
  2. 20%: Community Wallet: This part of the roadmap involved the creation of a Lazy Lion community wallet specifically intended to hold Lazy Lions NFTs. 
  3. 40%: ROARwards Program: The ROARwards program opened in late 2021. The program involved Halloween and Thanksgiving NFT drops (the Thanksgiving drop included Lazy Lions Collectible Cards, consisting of eight ERC-1155 tokens). The ROARwards program also involved a Discord promotion that provided a Lazy Lions Collectible Cards Pack for current owners and the people they referred to the Lazy Lions Discord account.  As of October 2021, more than 3,000 Lazy Lions NFT holders were involved in the ROARwards program. 
  4. 60%: Collectibles Drop: In late 2021, the Lazy Lions team provided free merchandise for Lazy Lion holders with specific traits. 
  5. 80%: Bungalows: The Lazy Lions team introduced bungalows in late 2021 for NFT owners. Many Lazy Lions owners have used these bungalows as banner images for their Twitter accounts. 
  6. 100%: Lazy Lions Game: The Lazy Lions development team is planning to release a Lazy Lions game in the near future. This game will permit Lazy Lions owners to win prizes, rewards, and other bonuses. 

5. Rebel Rabbits 

The Rebel Rabbits NFT collection consists of 10,000 3D rabbit avatars, programmatically generated from over 270 traits. The collection provides a detailed roadmap, with some parts classified by month and others by quarter. 

  1. November 2021: Rebel Rabbits Mini-Game #1. 
  2. December 2021: Chapter 1 Claimable, Comic Cover NFT. 
  3. January 2022: Chapter 1 Comic Release, High Res Image of your Rabbit. 
  4. February 2022: Chapter 2 Claimable, Burnable for Metaverse Wearable, Merch Store. 
  5. Early March 2022: Chapter 2 Comic Release, Redesigned Interactive Website (target). 
  6. Late March 2022: Chapter 3 Claimable, Burnable for redemption code for exclusive physical items. 
  7. April 2022: Chapter 3 Comic Release. 
  8. Q2 2022: Chapters 4 and 5 claimables and chapter releases, RR token. 
  9. Q3 2022: Chapters 6 and 7 claimables and chapter releases, Metaverse and Metaverse Avatar Crafting. 
  10. Q4 2022: Chapter 8 claimable and chapter release, Claimables Package. 

In Conclusion: NFT Roadmaps Are Important, But Not Always Reliable 

If you’re interested in investing in an NFT project, reading and understanding the project’s roadmap should be an essential part of your research and analysis process. While not all successful projects have had roadmaps, the vast majority do, so if a project lacks a roadmap, that could be a major red flag that the project is disorganized– or maybe even a scam. When looking at an NFT project’s roadmap, an investor should attempt to see if the project has consistently delivered new project elements (such as new NFT collections or minting opportunities, merchandise, or interactive media) on schedule and if these additional offerings are high-quality in nature. 

References:

  1. (2022, May) All About NFT Whitelists and How to Get Whitelisted in 3 Easy Steps. Binance. 
  2. IggyBoy NFT. IggyBoy NFT. 
  3. Karafuru NFT Review: Team, Utility, Roadmap, And More. WAGMI.TIPS. 
  4. (2021, Jun.) Everything You Need To Know About The Kunang Kunang RTS (Rewarding Timeshare) NFT Auction This July. Medium: LABS Group. 
  5. Collect, battle, and earn. with monsters full of character. Polychain Monsters. 
  6. (2023, Jan.) Wessel, M. NFTs for good: how charities can fundraise with NFTs. Charity Digital. 
  7. Enter the Otherside. Otherside
  8. Welcome to the Bored Ape Yacht Club. BAYC. 
  9. COOL CATS ROADMAP V.1.1. Twitter: @coolcats. 
  10. (2023, Feb.) Azuki – the first global metaverse brand? Mapping the Metaverse. 
  11. Lazy Lions: Roadmap. Lazy Lions. 
  12. Rebel Rabbits. Rebel Rabbits

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