Many of us have not yet forgotten that time when children, adolescents, and adults walked the streets of their towns or cities looking for a Pokémon. It was in 2016 when the Pokémon GO game phenomenon began to reach the top around the world and reached 600 million downloads. Fashions return and that essence has come back stronger than ever. The mix between the video game and physical activity is at its peak due to Move to earn, the new trend in gaming that uses the player’s movement and outdoor activities to obtain rewards. Unlike Pokémon GO, Move to earn has immersed itself fully in the world of cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
This is the evolution of the so called Play to earn, the trend that came to make it clear that you no longer play for pleasure or distraction, but for a monetary reward. Virtual assets, specifically. Cryptocurrencies are no longer unknown to players and are, in fact, one of the axes of the trends that dominate the video game sector.
Move to earn is the mix between one of the most important factors in Pokémon GO and crypto assets. Another way to call this trend is FitFi, a combination of GameFi and Fitness Apps that bets on a healthier life in exchange for cryptocurrencies. The tokens that are obtained through the applications within this trend can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies or for the current assets within the game.
In other words, Move to earn “gamifies” physical activity by compensating for exercise with virtual assets. This branch of Play to earn encourages a healthier style and can attract people interested in sports within the gaming sector. In a surely more unconscious way, Pokémon GO achieved something similar. Since the video game was released, players taking more than 10,000 steps a day went from 15% to more than 27%. One study added that it reduced sedentary behavior by 30 minutes a day; all of these factors implied an improvement in the physical condition of people who played Pokémon GO.
A relatively new movement
It is too soon to have figures on the impact of Move to earn, but it is gaining more and more followers. STEPN, Genopets and dotmoovs are the most famous applications and the ones that gather the most players within the Move to earn. STEPN, the Web3 life application, is surely one of the best known as it was one of the first projects it was born at the end of 2021 in which a reward is given based on the player’s steps. But it is not enough with that, it is necessary to buy an NFT in the form of virtual shoes.
To be part of the application, players have to buy shoes according to the physical activity they are going to do. Suitable for walking or running at the level of an athlete. Choosing the type of footwear according to physical activity is important because the rewards will be given based on the time and speed used for each category. Through geolocation, the constant rhythm of the player will be valued and rewarded according to his effort. In addition, you can compete in a friendly way with other players.
Despite Move to earn is an emerging trend, STEPN is very close to success. In May, the application reached the month of one million active users and monthly users exceeded 2 million. Its goal is to reach the masses and that the ‘gamification’ of fitness applications does not resonate as something so distant and unknown. For now, it looks like he’s getting it. The popularity of STEPN has, however, a side B: the increase in the value of its token and, therefore, its price. GMT, the app asset has increased in value by almost 2500% from December 2021 to now. That has caused the barrier of entry to access the game to be increasingly limited. In order to get into STEPN you need to buy an NFT sneaker, and if it gets more and more expensive, fewer people will be able to afford it.
The big differences
This is one of the main differences between STEPN and Genopets, another of the NFT games but with free entry. The operation of this game is based on raising digital pets and training them to fight. Again, the shadow of Pokémon GO hangs over this trend, in this case also with aspects reminiscent of Tamagotchi and Animal Crossing. This game falls under Move to earn because it controls the player’s movements and rewards them with better training or food for their pets. The higher the level of the Genopet, the more value it has so that it can later be sold or exchanged in the digital market of the application.
The growth of Genopets is also exponential and together with STEPN it makes visible the fame that Move to earn is acquiring within the gaming environment. In the specific case of the second, the company has taken advantage of the pull of fitness applications. Especially in times of pandemic, thousands of people use them daily to keep track of their activity. If, in addition to playing a sport, the player can get a reward in the form of cryptocurrencies, all the better.
The main problem, again focusing on STEPN, is the barrier to entry because, definitely, their digital shoes are not cheap their price is estimated at around $800 in Solana assets. The other problem is the volatility of its own digital currency. Regardless of how the price can vary to get you started, rewards can be profitable one day and have virtually nothing of value days later. It is cryptocurrency market volatilitybut this feature can make it hard for a future gamer to know which app to trust.
The halo of mistrust
Move to earn is shrouded, in this context, in a halo of mistrust for resembling in many ways a Ponzi scheme. First, let us understand what this term refers to. This scheme has been described as a fraud in which investors are rewarded for other people’s investments. That is to say, structures that feed on the money that the “new” put in and that makes it appear that it is a lucrative business. Actually, it’s just a vicious circle that ends the moment other people join in and the system collapses.
If there are many investors trusting the project, that causes the price of the token to rise specifically referring to cases such as STEPN , it revalues and increases its price. How far will it grow and when can it collapse is the big question. There are doubts about whether STEPN is a Ponzi scheme, but also about whether it is sustainable over time. In the end, that an application pays players to go for a walk or go for a run attracts, at least, attention.
The company itself has recognized that this is one of its main challenges and that they are fighting as a team to ensure the stability of STEPN. How they will do it is the great unknown. For now, the operation of the application continues to have overtones of a Ponzi scheme. Mainly because even though the rewards that the player receives can be transferred to the cryptocurrency market, STEPN does everything possible for the user to invest their earnings in the application. For example, fixing his shoes (they wear out over time, digitally speaking) and, furthermore, if a player buys the most expensive ones, he has higher rewards.
In summary, in this Move to earn model, the player does not invest his crypto assets outside the application, but to improve his own profile and with the promise of continuing to grow within it. It is a way to ensure user loyalty, but also to ensure that new investments will always be made within STEPN.
Doubts about the Move to ean model
The doubts that hang over STEPN and the Move to earn model in general are not new and come from the previous model, the Play to Earn. While in previous phenomena the player was paid to obtain skins, in this mode the user pays to access the game. In return, you are promised that you will get your investment back if you spend time playing the game. As we mentioned before, it is no longer free to play, now the talent has its reward. Again, in the form of cryptocurrencies.
Axie Infinity is the most famous game within this model. Players buy three in game pets the bare minimum for access which are actually NFTs, and raise them. The reward comes in the form of Axie’s own token for feeding, training, and winning battles with other pets from the video game.
Coindesk published a report stating that Axie Infinity users in the Philippines and Vietnam had left their jobs because they were paid more through the game’s rewards. Again, there was speculation about the bubble behind this structure and that it can be very dangerous for users. Easy money projects come as fast as they go and the NFT craze has shown us that stability is not one of the strong points of some crypto assets.
In fact, the Axie token, AXS, already suffered a significant drop in its value in January 2022. In addition, the video game wallet was the victim of a hack that led to the loss of more than 620 million dollars. Trending issues like Play to earn or Move to earn are a red flag for those who want to invest in a single project. They are models that are changing the video game sector thanks to the blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the NFT. Despite the innovation, the critical eye does not hurt. Nor be aware that the gains will not be forever.
For the change in the move to earn
However, it has been a paradigm shift. Not so long ago, being a gamer was an almost unknown profession, much less practiced and paid. In recent years, the only way to be part of the sector was to be in an e Sports team. But now everyone can be part of this ecosystem and feed it, especially those who spend a lot of time with it.
The debate, in addition to the volatility of assets and the stability of the system under which Play to earn and Move to earn are based, also focuses on the fact that games are no longer games. They are no longer tools for entertainment, but for some as in the case of the Philippines players reporting they use it to make a living and earn income. We can no longer escape from cryptocurrencies and blockchain, so much so that it is getting into many sectors of our lives. In the case of video games, part of its philosophy has also changed. Only time will tell how this can change the players, the market and the economy of the faithful followers of these trends.