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The New Concept of Move-to-Earn Gamesby@serkhitrov
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The New Concept of Move-to-Earn Games

by Sergei KhitrovMay 9th, 2022
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Move-to-earn games are an offshoot of P2E games where players can earn tokens by playing sports or running in real life. The biggest hit in fitness apps is a game from Find Satoshi Labs called StepN. StepN app is a game based on the Solana blockchain that tracks the user's running activity via GPS. Every time users run at a certain speed, they earn the in-game currency – Green Satoshi Token (GST). To enter the challenge, you need to purchase NFT sneakers that can be bought in-game marketplace.

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One of the most talked-about topics in the cryptocurrency world this spring is GameFi. Not surprisingly, play-to-earn games are attracting a lot of investment, and even some cryptocurrency exchanges are opening GameFi divisions, such as FTX gaming. This time, an offshoot of P2E games called move-to-earn, where players can earn tokens by playing sports or running in real life, gained rapid popularity.


The concept of games that encourage players to take their eyes off the computer and go outside is not new. Suffice it to recall the sensational augmented reality game Pokémon Go in 2016, in which players searched for cartoon characters on the streets of real cities, organized themselves into teams, and participated in battles. New move-to-earn projects operate on similar mechanics, with the difference that movement and activity bring real income. The most notable projects can be divided into game mechanics, where there are characters and a game scenario defined by the developers, and fitness applications that monetize a healthy lifestyle.


The biggest hit in fitness apps is a game from Find Satoshi Labs called StepN.  It is an app where you can earn tokens just by going for a walk. We tested the application and it turned out that not everything is so simple.


What is StepN? It is a game based on the Solana blockchain that tracks the user's running activity via GPS. Every time you run at a certain speed, the player earns the in-game currency – Green Satoshi Token (GST). To enter the challenge, you need to purchase NFT sneakers. Earned coins can be sold on the exchange or swapped in the application for Sol, the native token of the Solana network.


StepN audience statistics for 5 months – the public testing of the application took place in December 2021. Image source: stepn.com

How to join StepN and start monetizing steps

First, you need to download the Apple or Google Store application, register, and enter the activation code. It can be difficult to get a code – the game developers control the growth of their audience and give out about 2000 codes per day. But you can catch it in the StepN communities in telegram or discord - runners that use the app for a week receive a code and sometimes share it on social networks.


The popularity of the project attracted scammers – under the guise of a bot in Telegram, they ask users to follow the link and connect the wallet. Some send StepN followers an offer to help buy upgraded sneakers for them and then disappear with the money. And several phishing sites of the project were found on the network, which steals the seed phrases of users' wallets. Users need to check the name of the site and not respond to any dubious offers in instant messengers.

After registration, you need to choose sneakers from the marketplace

The StepN app has a marketplace with different sneakers in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). All sneakers differ in appearance, performance, and rarity.


There are 4 types of NFT sneakers – they differ in the speed with which you have to run:

  • Walker – walking shoes. The maximum speed for this species is 6 km/h. This is a normal walk.

  • Jogger – for lovers of easy jogging. For these shoes, you will need to keep the speed in the range of 4-10 km / h.

  • Runner – for advanced athletes who can run at a speed of 8-20 km / h.

  • Trainer – the user himself chooses how fast to run, but each time he earns a different number of tokens.


Earning depends on the type of sneakers: on average, from 4 to 6 tokens per unit of energy spent. While jogging, the application tracks the user using GPS, so treadmill lovers will have to go outside. Image source: stepn.com


Each pair of running shoes has a set of 4 properties: efficiency, luck, comfort, and resilience. These scores are randomly assigned to each token. For example, some running shoes will have a base performance score of 1 and some will have a base score of 5.


  • Efficiency affects the earnings of the GST token – you need to pay attention to it first of all.
  • Luck affects the ability to find something worthwhile in the mystery box drop-offs. In the current version of the game, the mechanics of contests have not been fully developed, so this parameter can not be upgraded.
  • Comfort increases the earnings of the second game token GMT. However, for now, this indicator is only important for users who have level 30. Level-up sneakers are paid, so it’s hard for me to talk about the economic feasibility of upgrading this parameter, but this may change in future updates of the application.
  • Resilience affects how long NFT sneakers do not require repair. After each run, a pair of resilience is taken away – the higher this indicator, the longer the sneakers will last and the cheaper the cost of repairs.


Another thing that distinguishes sneakers is their rarity. There are five types: common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary. The rarer the sneaker, the higher the base level and the more points that can be spent on an upgrade, the user will receive.

How to choose and buy sneakers

Before choosing sneakers in the marketplace, you need to evaluate your strength. For example, starting with Runner without the habit of running can be difficult, and Walker will not bring enough athletic benefits.


The second thing you need to pay attention to is the properties. On the marketplace, sneakers are sold by users, so NFTs might already be upgraded to a certain level and have a set of characteristics that the previous owner improved. In the current version of the game, it is better to choose those sneakers in which the indicators of basic efficiency and resilience are 12 or more. It does not matter how much their previous owner upgraded it, it is the basic characteristics that are important.


The rarity of a shoe has its value and benefits the player, but the cheapest uncommon shoes start at $5,000. Therefore, the rarity level can be ignored if the budget is limited. To buy sneakers, you need to connect a Phantom crypto wallet. For security reasons, we advise you to create a new one inside the application. At the end of April, the minimum price of sneakers on the marketplace was about 12 Sol – around $1100.


Average prices for sneakers with good base characteristics in April: Walker around $1300, Jogger $1350, Runner $1300. Screenshot from StepN in-app marketplace

Game mechanics

After the shoes are bought, you should not immediately go for a run. First, you need to accumulate energy. The game is designed in such a way that for each NFT sneaker, the user is given two units of energy, which equals 10 minutes of running. The energy scale is refilled by 0.5 units always at the same time: at 10 am, 4 pm, 10 pm, and 4 am. In order not to lose energy, it is better to choose the same range for training. For example, the full scale of energy is refilled at 10 am. You need to go for a run before 4 pm because exactly at this time the next refill occurs and if the scale is full, then the energy is not charged.


When the scale is full, you can start training. The application fixes the position of the user through GPS, the signal strength of which is worse near high-rise buildings. Therefore, in order for it to measure the speed correctly, it is better to choose an open area for training, such as a park. As soon as the user presses the "start" button, the application will begin the countdown - the run has begun. You need to keep the set speed for the whole time, otherwise, you can lose up to 90% of your earnings.


When the energy runs out, the earnings of tokens will stop. In the current version of the game, you should immediately end the training in the application, because if you continue to run it will reduce the durability of the sneakers. This is a bug that the developers of the application promise to fix, apparently in future versions there will be some additional benefits for long-distance lovers.


After training, you can transfer the earned GST to your wallet, or you can upgrade the level of sneakers, which possibly increases earnings. There are different strategies for playing, but most advanced StepN users believe that the lowest level to which it is worth upgrading shoes is 9.


While running, it is important to monitor your running speed - you need to keep it in the green speed zone. Image source: Stepn.com


StepN Perspectives: A Pyramid, or a Popular SocialFi App

In short, the future will show. The mechanics of the game causes concern among many experts. When a lot of players earn money in a project, and only beginners bring money, it resembles a pyramid scheme. Yes, users spend money on sneakers, upgrades, and repairs - but is this enough to support the economy of the game.


Another problem with the game is the high entry price. For comparison, in the popular play-to-earn project Axie Infinity, it is enough to buy three characters with a total cost of about $600 to start. Here, the minimum entry, as I wrote above, is at least twice as expensive, which moves it into a rank, not for the mass user. However, the app developers promise to publish an update in September, where users can rent out their sneakers - this may open StepN to a wider audience.


However, it is too early to conclusions - the game has not demonstrated all its functions and perhaps the innovations will surprise users and motivate them enough to continue training and investing in the development of their account. The reaction of investors and the community looks positive. Sequoia Capital is the well-known venture capital fund invested in StepN tokens, and the project's listing on Binance was approved in a record 1.5 months. StepN has every chance of becoming a successful sports SocialFi startup, but we do not recommend investing money if you don’t want to lose it, because it is still possible.

StepN is the most successful but not the one move-to-earn project on the market

The second m2e project by the market capitalization is the Genopetsgame. The most important difference from a StepN is that users can start playing according to the free-to-play model - without spending a cent. In Genopets, you can create your familiar character and upgrade it by completing tasks in the real world. Created familiars are NFTs that can be upgraded, customized, and then sold on the in-game's marketplace.**
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The Dustland is a blockchain health and fitness game that gives a chance to players earn rewards while running. Real-life runs, sprints, and dashes move players forward through the game's story. Players' physical performance is rewarded in the virtual world with digital items in the form of DOSE, an ERC20-based token. It can be used to upgrade characters and access additional features.


The dotmoovse project is a metaverse for freestyle football fans. Players can record their videos in the application, and a special algorithm will evaluate their skills. In the game, you can challenge freestylers from all over the world and earn Moov tokens in competitions. Football freestyle is not the only available sport in the game - dancing should be added to the application in the second quarter of 2022.


The total market capitalization of move-to-earn concepts according to CoinGecko in April was $2.1 billion. Looking at the success of StepN, we can assume that we will see many new applications in 2022. This confirms the mood of investors - according to the head of Binance Labs, Bill Qian, projects like StepN, which are aimed at the gamification of physical activity, will attract more and more investments and users.


Top move-to-earn currencies by market cap. Source: www.coingecko.com