In this article, I will talk about what is a move to earn games, and how you can make money playing them.
One of the revolutionary trends we saw in crypto last year was blockchain gaming. With NFTs and metaverse gaining prominence, play-to-earn games caught the attention of the entire crypto community and made a huge jump in terms of player growth and locked value. Games like Axie Infinity initiated a massive rally, giving close to 25,000% returns at their peak. However, we must also recognize that Axie has an inflation problem, and long-term sustainability is still a question mark. But it showcased the potential of integrating games and NFTs.
Now, the GameFi industry is not just limited to play-to-earn games. We see many new concepts emerging that take advantage of the NFT craze and aim to capture mass market opportunity. One of those concepts taking over GameFi right now is move-to-earn. Yes, you’ve heard that right. You literally get paid to have an active lifestyle. Move-to-earn, or Fitness-Fi, is a new technique of gamification for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle and get rewarded in the form of tokens.
In the Web2 world, there have been many applications using a similar approach. But they failed to get enough traction because whatever reward was given cannot be redeemed for fiat currency and doesn’t have much utility.
Web3 completely fixes that dynamic with NFTs and many DeFi functionalities. And the project currently leading in this newly formed sub-segment of GameFi is STEPN. In less than thirty days, the governance token (GMT) gave 30x returns and reached one billion in market cap.
In this article, let’s understand what the hype is all about and break down STEPN’s business model. Read till the end or risk missing out on another potential trend in crypto.
What is STEPN
STEPN is the first-ever GameFi application to transform move-to-earn from a concept to a lifestyle tool. It was conceptualized at a Solana hackathon in 2021, where STEPN finished 4th out of 500+ participants.
The game mechanics of STEPN are similar to play-to-earn games. Instead of using NFTs as avatars, STEPN uses them as sneakers. Users can activate their NFT when performing any intense activity at the gym or simply when walking down the street to get groceries. It doesn’t matter where you are running or walking. You can still earn in-game currency by making your steps count.
STEPN is co-founded by Jerry Huang and Yawn Rong. Both of them are vastly experienced in their respective fields. Jerry worked for more than a decade in game development, where he spent the majority of his time growing his previous company, Falafel Games. He also took one of his RPG games to the top of the rankings on the IOS app store.
On the other hand, Yawn is an angel investor with expertise in scaling startups to large-scale, national brands. He has worked for several years at Algorand as a business ambassador. He also started a crypto fund and incubator.
Seeing the rapid growth of STEPN, the team managed to get a seed round funding of $5 million from many notable investors, including Sequoia Capital India, Folius Ventures, Solana Ventures, Alameda Research, 6th Man Ventures, and Sfermion. Angel investors Santiago Santos and Zhen Cao also participated in the seed round.
Things You Should Know Before You Start Playing
When you start using a GameFi application, you must know the inner workings of it to maximize your earning potential. So here are a few things you have to keep in mind before you start playing STEPN.
There are mainly three game modes within STEPN, with Solo mode operation and Marathon and Background mode still under development. When you use your NFTs in Solo mode, your energy levels will last for five minutes. For example, if your sneaker has three energy bars, you can earn tokens for 15 minutes of activity.
In the case of Marathon Mode, you can register for weekly marathons and monthly marathons. Weekly, the marathon ranges from 2.5 km to 7.5 km, whereas monthly marathons go as far as 15 km. The app also charges a small fee to ensure you stay on track with your commitment to complete the marathon. If you do finish the marathon, you will be refunded.
This is probably the most important aspect one should know about STEPN. Yes, the NFTs are important based on their rarity. But most users won’t start using STEPN with a legendary NFT. So you need to understand how to level up and make the most of your energy levels.
The energy system mainly encompasses how much time you can use your NFTs and what you should do to increase the energy levels. In the beginning, you get one sneaker and two energy caps. So you can only use the app for 10 minutes in a day to generate GST tokens.
However, if you collect more sneakers, you can drastically increase your M2E time. In addition, if you manage to accumulate rare, uncommon, and epic sneakers, you get more bonus energy levels. There is also a limit of 20 energy levels. So even if you buy more than thirty NFTs, you are limited to using the app for only 100 minutes.
At first, it may seem that the time is insufficient to earn a decent amount of token. But it is proven that a fresh and savvy player can make up to $30 and $450 per day, respectively.
Although having more time gives you a better chance at making more money, you should still consider various other parameters to maximize your earning potential. Some parameters are movement speed, type of sneaker, gems, and sockets, and NFT badges. Let’s break them one by one down.
You can easily forget movement speed when you are using STEPN because you normally wouldn’t bother at what pace you are walking or running. Or at least you don’t monitor it consistently. It matters for the simple fact that it can hurt your final earnings. If you own a jogger, you have to work at an optimal speed between 4 and 10km/hr.
If you maintain a consistent pace but don’t have a quality sneaker, you are still not maximizing your earnings. So you need to also upgrade your sneakers by burning GST tokens. For each level-up, you can increase up to 12 additional attribute points. The main attributes of STEPN are resilience, efficiency, comfort, and luck.
For now, the luck boxes are under development. They determine the frequency and quality of a mystery box. Efficiency and resilience depend on the quality of the sneaker. It becomes easy for you to become the leaderboard winner if they are high. These attributes are also called Gems. You can upgrade them at the marketplace.
Finally, the NFT badges are given to users who complete certain daily tasks. If they do harder tasks, they get more badgers with more qualities.
What Stands Out About STEPN
For starters, the user experience is top-notch. The application’s design is very compelling and makes it easy for users to navigate. If you never interacted with a Web3 app or wallets, you would need to create a new Solana wallet, as you have to buy sneaker NFTs. Outside of that, it should be a smooth onboarding experience for all users.
What impressed me the most about STEPN is its low entry barriers for users to start making money on STEPN. They will soon roll out a renting feature for users to lend their NFTs and earn passive income. This is a win-win situation for all parties. In play-to-earn games, we usually see gaming guilds offering scholarships. With STEPN, lenders and borrowers can directly connect on the marketplace and seamlessly make the trade.
Another thing that stood out was carbon offsetting. The team truly wants to make a difference in fighting climate change. They plan to use profits from trading fees and taxes to buy carbon removal credit. So far, they have offset more than 278,000 kilos of carbon, according to their website.
The roadmap has been mapped out for 17 months, from Aug 2021 to Dec 2022. The team is currently in the public beta phase, with an in-app trade function and marketplace available.
In the coming months, we will see an in-app upgrade; likely, more cross-chain wallets will also be added. The same goes for the marketplace as well. In Q3, the rental, quest, and achievement systems go live. This is when the fun begins, in my opinion. Because the NFTs have more utility and entry barriers are lowered.
By the end of 2022, STEPN will have online marathons and integrate many other Socio-Fi elements into the fitness application.
Should You Invest in STEPN?
The number one reason to consider investing in STEPN is global brand partnerships. There are companies like Nike and Adidas fully embracing NFTs and metaverse. So there is a possibility we see STEPN partner with them for branding purposes. To know how much of an impact a company like Nike can have, just look at RTFKT studios. They acquired them, and CloneX became a top-tier NFT collection.
On top of a possible branded sneaker integration, STEPN has the potential to pull off a move like Axie Infinity. The problem, however, is attracting users outside of the crypto world. You see, in the case of Axie, people from all over the world participated. We need to see similar action from STEPN. But it will take time. As STEPN is a first mover, it can take up the lion’s share of Web3 lifestyle apps if and when that becomes a mainstream trend.
Born and brought up in India, Karthikeya Gutta is a crypto journalist and freelance contributor for ItsBlockchain. He covers various aspects of the industry with in-depth analysis and research. His passion towards blockchain and crypto ecosystem is mainly because he believes it can really change the world and help millions of people.
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