Yuga Lab’s Apes non-fungible token (NFT) series, such as Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), have been bucking the trend of an otherwise sluggish market with strong sales performance of late.

Collectively, BAYC — along with Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Bored Ape Kennel Club and Bored Ape Chemistry Club — saw over US$100 million in daily sales volume last Thursday, according to NFT data aggregator CryptoSlam. Meanwhile, the recently released Apes governance token ApeCoin had a strong price recovery after quickly falling in price after its mid-week launch.

Strong sales from leading NFT series typically would translate into stronger sales for the broader market, but experts tell Forkast that is not happening at the moment, and that could actually be a sign of a maturing market.

“Traditionally CryptoPunks were what we looked at to sense a bull run coming,” said Yehuda Petscher, strategist at NFT data aggregator CryptoSlam, telling Forkast that typically as April’s tax season approaches in the U.S., investors who made some money from NFTs throughout the year would begin to re-invest in smaller collections.

“This time it’s Apes that are selling like crazy … but the other projects are not really getting a boost from it,” he continued.

Sales volume for March on leading NFT marketplace OpenSea is down almost 60% from what it was at the same point through February, with its major competitor LooksRare faring no better, according to Dune Analytics.

Petscher attributes this slowing down of sales to the market becoming too oversaturated, with much of the attention becoming consolidated into successful series like BAYC.

This status is achieved, he says, through Yuga Lab’s management of the collection as the space has evolved, supporting the community through channels like Discord and helping to build the brand.

“People just want to be part of it; it’s a flex, it’s like a Rolex,” he said. “You hear the Apes [investors] always talk about their community and that’s key, that is their selling point. The team has executed [it] so perfectly and they’ve delivered everything that an NFT investor would want.”

Yuga Labs is continuing to build upon the Apes brand as well, with the announcement of a new metaverse project “Otherside” to be powered by ApeCoin. A trailer released on Monday teased the inclusion of many NFT series that fall under the Yuga Labs umbrella — including CryptoPunks and Meebits, which were recently purchased from creators Larva Labs.

Otherside is expected to launch in April.

“We are seeing a shift happening in the NFT space that, through primary market forces or a general cooling on hysteria, will be a net positive for the space in the long term,” said Jordan Birnholtz, co-founder of NFT vending machine firm Neon, in a statement to Forkast.

People are developing a realistic view of the NFT industry, Birnholtz said, meaning people are moving away from hype cycles and developing attachment to specific artists and creators. He also said this is creating a focus more on the utility of a token as opposed to a simple use as a profile picture.

One such new utility will be through the growth of play-to-earn gaming, best exemplified by the break-out hit Axie Infinity — whose NFT collection is the highest-grossing of all time.

“It has people excited for the play-to-earn aspect that’s coming into the scene this year,” Yehuda said. “And ApeCoin is the first iteration of that within the Yuga Labs ecosystem.”