Axie Infinity was a pioneer in the play-to-earn movement and the game inspired new Web3 applications that hope to apply the same earning model to their respective ecosystems. These projects include other popular play-to-earn games such as Splinterlands, Alien Worlds and Star Atlas.
So far in 2022, the move-to-earn category has been growing rapidly and some wonder if the healthy lifestyle movement may someday overtake play-to-earn.
What is STEPN?
STEPN is a Solana-based move-to-earn Web3 application where owners of the non-fungible token (NFT) sneakers earn as they walk, jog or run outdoors. STEPN is the market leader in the category. The app monitors users’ movement through the GPS on their mobile device and then rewards them with tokens for their fitness activity.
STEPN uses a dual token model just like Axie Infinity. Green Metaverse Token (GMT) functions as a governance token. It’s supply is limited to 6 billion units. Green Satoshi Token (GST) is STEPN’s utility token and it has an unlimited supply. However, STEPN uses a burn mechanism to control the circulating supply of GST.
Is the price sustainable?
STEPN has programmed a few factors that determine just how much a person can make with its NFT sneakers. The GST in-game token currently trades for $7.30. Over the last 30 days, the token has surged over 77%, but is the price sustainable?
What’s interesting about the move-to-earn phenomenon is that it’s essentially a form of P2E. It basically gamified the fitness lifestyle utilizing a digital asset, the sneaker. NFT holders must engage in the application mechanics to receive the reward.
Several recent announcements could be the catalyst for STEPN’s price to continue moving higher. Both GMT and GST were just listed on Coinbase. New tokens or coins newly listed on Coinbase often rise in price, a phenomena known as the “Coinbase Effect.” In other positive news, STEPN’s NFT sneaker collection is now available on the OpenSea marketplace. OpenSea will provide STEPN NFT owners a popular NFT platform to resell their digital sneakers.
In total, STEPN has amassed over 223,500 users, and it currently dominates the move-to-earn landscape in total market capitalization. Its Green Metaverse Token is over 20x that of all other M2E tokens combined, making it a desirable sector bet. Looking ahead, with the summer months coming, the fitness app’s number of users and also the price of GMT may continue to increase due to seasonal trends.
Is STEPN a passing fad?
While STEPN might be racking up some serious profits for investors now, there are already a growing number of competitors emerging. Also, new earning models could soon make STEPN nothing more than a passing fad. Play-to-earn was all the rage in 2021, but now that movement has faded considerably. Learning from history, this should cause investors to pause and question the sustainability of the move-to-earn trend.
Fitness app competitors
Sweatcoin, a project launched in 2018, was one of the first applications that would pay its users digital currency to exercise. Since then, other crypto fitness apps have entered the space such as Dotmoovs, Calo and STEP. Each of these has their respective in-app reward tokens. STEPN by far is the most popular, so while it didn’t pioneer the movement, it may be the best at utilizing and developing it.
Another competitor, Genepets, bills itself as the world’s first Free-to-Play, Move-to-Earn NFT game on Solana. Some healthy lifestyle participants may prefer Genepets for its Free-to-Play model over having to buy their NFT sneakers to be a part of STEPN’s ecosystem.
STEPN is currently in beta, with new users requiring a code to participate. In branding and packaging move-to-earn, STEPN gained popularity among crypto and NFT enthusiasts and had a parabolic spike in growth. In the last seven days, over 32,800 new sneakers have been minted.
Cumulative number of STEPN shoes minted. Source: DuneAnalytics
How much can users earn?
On average, a STEPN sneaker can earn a user up to $20 per day. A premium tier sneaker can make users hundreds of dollars based on the current price of GST. In addition, STEPN NFT owners can also earn by “renting” out their NFT sneakers to other users.
Just like Axie Infinity, users must first put in an initial capital investment in order to begin earning rewards. There were 99,999 NFT sneakers available for mint. Just like Axie Infinity, users can breed their sneakers during sneaker minting events (SME).
Currently on the Magic Eden secondary marketplace, the cheapest STEPN sneaker is available for 16.56 Solana (SOL), or $1,628 at the time of writing. The most expensive is 300 SOL, or $29,493 at the time of writing.
There is a range of sneaker types, along with tiers of features and levels a sneaker acquires that impact how much it can yield.
The durability of cell phone signals and the strength of a user’s global positioning system (GPS) play an integral role in earning. If either the GPS or cell signal is choppy, there is no guarantee that data will be recorded. STEPN relies on knowing the distance a person has covered in order for them to earn rewards.
2/n Currently to earn tokens (GST) in #STEPN, the walking / running requirement is quite low. I earned ~USD40 with 10 mins of walk daily so it’s pretty chill. The only thing is, you need to go outdoor in which the GPS signal is strong. That’s how the steps are calculated for GST
— Smallveggie | TMA (@small_veggie) April 17, 2022
Web3 apps Step App and Sweatcoin compete in M2E race
STEPN is not alone in the move-to-earn race. Recently Step App, a decentralized application (DApp) on Avalanche blockchain, emerged as a competitor with its sites set on tapping into the $100 billion fitness industry.
Step App has multiple token emissions with FITFI, a governance token, and KCAL, the in-game token being earned. However, the risk in token emission of any kind is that it becomes a vacuum for value extraction. To mitigate the possibility of inflation, Step App will integrate token sinks into its tokenomics, and burning mechanisms will indefinitely remove tokens from circulation.
Unlike STEPN and Sweatcoin, Step App will build a software development kit that provides others with tools to build within its metaverse. In this way, it is more Web3 native and can potentially mitigate bottlenecks that impede the product’s overall scalability.
✨Step App Memorandum is Live
The Step Protocol SDK is the foundation of the #FitFi economy.
FitFi is at the heart of the $100B fitness and the $200B gaming markets. Developers, projects, and Fortune 500 corporations will join FitFi, as they did with #GameFi.
— Step.App (@StepApp_) April 23, 2022
It’s still uncertain how STEPN and these move-to-earn apps will combat saturation and how well their token mechanics can sustain a healthy price point once these apps have millions of users. There’s also the risk of a potential drop-off in active users since maintaining exercise regimes is stronger from habit-building and intrinsic motivations rather than external rewards.
Since most of these move-to-earn apps require an investment upfront, users should stay aware of the price action, volatility, growth and saturation of the movement economy along with the levels of activity required to break even or profit. Also, remember the competition from free-to-play, move-to-earn apps.
Turning physical activity into profit could become increasingly difficult in the future if the move-to-earn ecosystem develops and gains more popularity. If more users are looking to turn their physical activity into cash, it could impact the token price and can increase the price of entry. Therefore, these fitness apps are working to tackle the manipulation of fraudulent inputs of exercise as an exploit for maximal earnings.
In theory, move-to-earn applications are well intended in centering health and wellness. However, the success of these models stems from incentivizing and, in effect, attempting to influence behavior to form habits.
Studies show that habits are sustained more readily through intrinsic personal motivations (which are hard to quantify) rather than external rewards. Therefore, there are fundamental factors to consider when investing in the move-to-earn movement for the long term.
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