Creating a Next-Generation NFT Marketplace

Led the design of BZAAR, an immersive NFT marketplace integrating blockchain, AR, and geolocation. Merged game design principles with NFTs, tackled challenges, and launched a platform fostering inclusivity and accessibility in the digital shopping experience.
Product Designer
Bohemian Innovation
Project Type
Web App
August to December 2021

Our first-ever Web3 Project: BZAAR

BZAAR wasn't just another NFT marketplace; it aimed to change how we connect online and in the physical world. We wanted to create a platform that was more than just buying and selling digital items. Like the game Pokémon Go, we wanted users to explore and have fun while using our app. Our big goal was to get people outside, making connections in the real world while still using our platform.

Rethinking NFT and Gaming

Around this time, NFT was gaining a lot of popularity and… notoriety. It was all sell, sell, sell. The focus was too much on how much money people were making and there wasn’t anything innovative. Covid was still a big factor and more and more apps force people to stay indoors. We knew we wanted a Tamagotchi/Marketplace-like experience where you purchase an NFT of the creature and take care of it like a real pet. We also wanted to use this is as a medium to introduce anyone to Web3 and NFTs without mentioning the words NFT and Web3. Underneath it all, it was just digital goods.

Inspiration from other successful games. Props if you recognize some of them!

Taking the lead on designing an immersive experience

As the project's lead Product Designer, my responsibilities included designing the entire application for mobile and web platforms. I had never done anything related to geo-location, NFT, or gaming.

The design process began with research into games with collectability and caring features, drawing inspiration from Pokémon and Digimon. I asked for three days to work on a concept. Since I wasn’t a pet owner, I asked my colleagues about their experience owning pets and how I could translate that experience to mobile.

A quick 3 day concept on the left, which led to our V1.

Purpose and Rewards are crucial to good game design

I focused on feeding, playing, and cleaning as the core functionality for the app. Since this is a game, it needed a scoring method. I worked with my Backend Developer on some simple calculations on how to award the player with scores. Great game design focuses on purpose-driven incentives for the player when they complete certain tasks.

Our first iteration for the scoring system.

In addition to just caring for the creature, I introduced a mechanic where players will get rewarded for not using the app and letting the creature play around the map. When the creature comes back, it will have a better happiness score and might even have special items.

Although this may seem contrary to how most games are these days, it was actually introduced years ago in World of Warcraft. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

We also took inspiration from Pokemon Go. Instead of buying NFTs like creatures and items from the store, you would have to visit certain landmarks in your city to access creatures unique to that store. This would prompt players to venture out, just like the summer of 2016 when Pokemon Go came out. We also briefly experimented with your creatures in AR, but it never got to development.

Map and Landmarks similar to Pokemon Go, and the landmarks were NFT stores.
Your Critter Corner is where your creature friends would normally hangout, waiting for you to play with them.
Experimenting with Augmented Reality where your critters could join you in the real world.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned

With BZAAR, we introduced an app and gaming experience that was quite new to the Web3 space. The integration of geolocation and NFT art broadened the platform's appeal. The project emphasized effective teamwork, user feedback, and the iterative design process, marking a new frontier in combining game design and user experience within a web3 application. The experience gained is poised for application in future projects.