Blockchain games based on the concept of Move-to-Earn (M2E) have emerged in recent months with projects such as STEPN and Genopets. These combine elements of gaming finance (GameFi) and fitness apps to reward users for exercising.
This “FitnessFi” concept is a rapidly growing segment of the third generation Internet (Web3) that allows users to control and monetise their personal information.
As the concept of Move-to-Earn shifts to cryptocurrencies, players can earn in-game currency, which they can then exchange for real-world fiat currency, providing a tangible reward for participating rather than just paying to play the game.
In this article, we will be discussing what Move-to-Earn is, its concept and different M2E projects.
What is Move-to-Earn (M2E)?
M2E may be a new term, but it’s not a new concept. Sports have been gamified for years. Nintendo popularised the action-based mobile app game Pokémon GO. They recently launched a range of fitness games with the Nintendo Switch console, and there are even dedicated fitness controllers (e.g. exercise rings).
Going even further, we also have the Wii console, which pushed games like Wii Sports forward. One could even think of sports as a form of M2E, as professional gamers make money from sponsorships, sweepstakes, etc. However, playing sports for a living is probably out of reach for most. But M2E now allows you to earn financial rewards for your activity.
The innate trait of becoming healthier not only appeals to users who may need a “gamification push” but also to other businesses that benefit from more physically active society. An example of this is AIA Vitality, a health plan by the insurance company AIA. This program allows members to earn points from various activities, including earning steps. Points can be redeemed for rewards such as meals or shopping vouchers.
How Does the Concept of Move-to-Earn (M2E) Differ From Play-to-Earn (P2E)?
Play-to-Earn (P2E) games reward users for their gameplay, e.g. winning battles, advancing through levels and exploring the game world. Move-to-Earn apps use sensors in players’ mobile devices to track their movements and automatically reward them for physical activity.
Like P2E games, some M2E games are free, while others require users to purchase an NFT on the marketplace to get started. Since the price of NFTs tends to increase as the game becomes more popular, it can be an expensive upfront investment before users start making money.
For example, the minimum price of NFTs in the STEPN Move-to-Earn app has increased from SOL1 in March ($133 as of April 4) to above SOL8 ($1,064 as of April 4).
The M2E concept aims to extend the benefits of the blockchain-based reward concept beyond gaming to promote a healthy lifestyle. This coincides with the growth of fitness trackers and employer wellness programs that encourage employees to exercise. Fitness-based M2E can lower health insurance premiums and reduce employee absenteeism due to illness. In this way, M2E applications have the potential to reach a broader market than P2E.
Where Does the Money Come From?
Everyone wants to be paid for what they already do every day. Winning the project is about getting people to walk or run more often. Those already doing so are theoretically reaping huge rewards with no extra effort. Additionally, these companies typically receive initial support and funding from investors. However, long-term sustainability must be established for monetary incentives, which means that developers must have income.
This is one of the downsides of using Move-to-Earn projects today. There is no sign of revenue sustainability for developers or users. Additionally, many programs limit the number of participants, creating artificial and unnecessary barriers. The concept of getting paid to walk, jog, and run is appealing, but there’s still a long way to go in the industry today.
STEPN and Genopets are among the first projects to use the “Move-to-Earn” model and have been taking off together with WIRTUAL, DEFY and OliveX since the end of 2021.
Let’s look at some of the most popular Move-to-Earn tokens: STEPN, Genopets, and WIRTUAL.
STEPN development on the Solana blockchain began in August 2021. Developers participated in the Solana Ignition Hackathon from August to October and started a closed beta of the app in November. The public beta began in December.
In January, STEPN secured a seed round from investors including Sequoia Capital, Folius Ventures, Solana Capital and Alameda Research.
The STEPN app uses mobile-purchased NFT sneakers to track players’ movements outdoors based on GPS signals from mobile devices. The game uses a dual-currency token structure, with Green Satoshi Token (GST) as the in-game utility token and Green Metaverse Token (GMT) as the governance token involved in project development.
Since its launch on Binance exchange on March 9, GMT price is up 1.925% to trade at a high of $3.83 on April 20.
Genopets is an RPG that combines elements of Tamagotchi Digital Pets and Pokémon Go fighting games with fitness and social incentives. The game uses real-world physical activity data generated by the player’s movement or wearable devices to determine their progress in the game’s virtual world.
Genopets are NFT virtual pets that increase in value as players customise and upgrade as they progress through the Genoverse. Players save the steps they follow to unlock in-game features and abilities.
GENE is the game’s governance and staking token, used for in-game NFTs, giving holders exclusive features and a say in game development. GENE price surged 188% from its opening price of $13.13 at its launch in November before retracing when the cryptocurrency market sold off in 2022, falling to $5.31 on Feb. 24. But as the market moved higher in mid-March, GENE prices recovered and traded to a high of $22.79 on April 2nd.
WIRTUAL has been in development since 2019 and launched in April 2020 as a testbed for conducting virtual fitness events. The app has attracted the attention of Thai promoters looking to host corporate events for companies such as Mitsubishi Electric Thailand (6503), Suntory (STBFY), Pepsi (PEP) Thailand, NBA Sports Management (NBA) and Bosch Thailand (BOSH).
In Q1 2022, WIRTUAL expanded the app and launched version 2.0, which includes cryptocurrency, NFT avatars, and a tracking system that connects to smartwatches like Strava, Fitbit, and Garmin. Users are rewarded for tracking and reporting their physical activity data with challenges such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, exercising and cycling.
Users are represented by NFT avatar characters. Upgrading their avatars will unlock special features and limited edition outfits unique to each user. Users can sell their avatars on the NFT marketplace for profit.
The WIRTUAL crypto coin launched on 18 March on the PancakeSwap decentralised exchange after a launch auction on 15 March. WIRTUAL will award 20 million WIRTUAL coins every year, with 55,555.55 coins distributed among users that submit their results based on their activity.
By default, new users receive up to WIRTUAL0.1 per day, and as they reach seven holder levels, they are eligible for more tokens. Virtual clothing on their NFTs allows them to submit more than once a day and earn higher max rewards.
WIRTUAL token opened at $0.1572 in its token offering auction and rose to $1.06 after listing on March 19, up 574%. The price retreated to $0.2858 on March 22 but has since recovered, rising to a new high of $1.57 on April 2.
It is important to remember that the cryptocurrency market is very volatile, and it is difficult to accurately predict the price of a coin within a few hours, and even more challenging to provide long-term estimates. This applies in particular to new coins and tokens.
Because M2E applications are in an early stage of development, their potential as long-term capital goods is uncertain. There is a risk that after the initial hype, the industry will not find widespread acceptance, and the market’s attention will shift to another trend that will take the coin well below its peak.