Prior to the launch of their NFT marketplace, bitcoin exchange Coinbase released a trilogy of short films based on the NFT project in the midst of this year’s Bored Ape Yacht Club mania. After releasing the first book in the series in July, the company has decided to suspend further production of the series, as was reported today to Decrypt.
“We are constantly evolving our content strategy and have decided to pause production of the remaining two films while we identify the best path forward for the creative,” a Coinbase spokesperson said. “We will continue to focus on more immediate creative endeavors.”
The spokesperson decided against providing any additional information regarding the reasons for the production suspension.
The Degen Trilogy, created by Bored Ape Yacht Club founder Yuga Labs, was planned to include a wide range of characters created by the various Bored Ape owners. Coinbase has agreed to pay the owners of each chosen ape $10,000 in Bitcoin or ApeCoin for the privilege of licensing their apes for use in the films.
The first episode, a five-minute CG-animated short released in July via social media outlets and YouTube, has human actors on an ApeCoin-themed quest in a tower full of “money zombies.” The appearances of the Bored Ape were brief and infrequent.
The NFT community gave it a negative critique, complaining about the muddled story, drawn-out credits, and sparse Bored Ape Yacht Club references in the debut installment.
The film was released in June, just after Coinbase laid off almost 1,100 staff. A user named Hawkward who creates NFT art under a pseudonym tweeted, “Imagine getting laid off by Coinbase [because] they couldn’t afford to pay you, and then they come out with this.”
Much had happened between the announcement in April and the launch in July, and not only the reduction in workforce size. The once-thriving NFT market was in a poor position after the May crypto market crisis, with Bored Apes suffering a significant drop in value and Coinbase’s long-awaited NFT marketplace failing to take off after its debut.
The situation has not improved even after several months. Despite efforts to stabilize the market, monthly sales of NFTs continue to fall, Bored Ape prices have just dropped below $60,000 (from a peak of $429,000 worth of ETH in April), and Coinbase’s stock price has tumbled to all-time lows.
Coinbase’s NFT market has only seen $7 million in trade volume since its launch in April. That’s significantly less than what the leading marketplace OpenSea typically manages to do in a day. The marketplace’s launch was overseen by Surojit Chatterjee, the company’s chief product officer, but he left in November, just before more layoffs were announced.
In an interview with author Laura Shin for the Unchained podcast in August, Chatterjee said that the first book in the Degen Trilogy “probably didn’t get the point” for “certain persons.” He went on to say that some things are more effective than others, mentioning Coinbase’s famous Super Bowl ad as an example.
Despite the recent drop in the value of Ethereum assets, the Bored Ape Yacht Club has remained one of the most prominent and widely adopted NFT projects to date, with a total transaction volume of over $2.5 billion since its mint in April 2021. Yuga Labs has released a number of additional NFT collections, including property deeds for the upcoming metaverse game Otherside.