CloneX is a 20,000 avatar collectibles project by RTFKT studios in collaboration with famed Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The art style of these NFTs channels much of what we’ve come to understand avatars to look like within various metaverses, which is intentional—the team has stated that CloneX will be an ecosystem project that will establish a foundation for metaverse integrations.
The studio behind the project, RTFKT, is a major branding agency and growth hack expert, with experience designing luxury retail stores and logos for hip hop artists, directing movies and music videos as well as disrupting fashion industries. Their major success in the NFT space came from their collaboration with 18-year-old artist Fewocious and their VC-heavy influence with A16Z and other funds.
The launch of CloneX didn’t go as planned. 11,133 NFTs were available for sale having a 0.05ETH price set for mint within 48 hours. In order to participate in the presale, accounts needed to hold qualifying RTFKT NFTs or a Metakey before the snapshot was taken. Holders were airdropped mint passes that allowed access to the presale. The remaining 8,367 of 20,000 avatars were only available for public sale by Dutch auction, starting at 3 ETH. Twenty minutes into the launch, the developers announced that the website was under attack. However, the exact nature of the attack was not disclosed; instead, users were told to clear their browser cache or use a different browser altogether. It appeared that the issues were resolved and minting continued after a short pause. That didn't last long, as the floor price on OpenSea was dropping rapidly, reaching 2.28 ETH when the minting price was still at 2.8 ETH.
The team then announced another shut-down due to what they claimed was another attack. This was followed by the developers shutting down Discord, preventing users from sending messages through any channels to discuss what was happening. Twelve hours later, the team announced in a Twitter Spaces that they would not proceed with the Dutch auction and that minting would be at a fixed price of 2 ETH. By that point, most of the community had lost hope and many accused the team of initiating the second shutdown to preserve the price rather than to protect the project. Finally, the team had promised to give away a large number of mints for free, but the list of eligible accounts included presale participants, which further enraged the community.
It is generally understood that a certain level of hype-based inflation is required to generate significant interest in a project, but shutting down and changing a minting process due to changing market conditions is not only extremely unprofessional, but concerning from an investment standpoint. No matter how big of a brand RTFKT is, there is no justification for a team to ever restrict Discord access, especially under these types of circumstances. RTFKT and CloneX will have much to prove to the community in order to recapture some of the goodwill and community trust they previously had.