Blockchain games based on the concept of move-to-earn (M2E) have emerged in recent months with projects like STEPN and Genopets. These bring together elements of gaming finance (GameFi) and fitness apps to reward users for exercising.
This “FitnessFi” concept is a fast-growing segment of the third-generation Internet (Web3), which enables users to control and monetise their personal data.
The gamification of exercise is not new, as games like Pokemon Go and Wii Sports are based on players moving around, but running move-to-earn cryptocurrency games on a blockchain allows developers to incorporate cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as financial rewards.
As the move-to-earn concept turns to crypto, players can earn in-game currencies they can then exchange for real-world fiat currencies, thus providing tangible rewards for their participation rather than them simply paying to play a game.
How does the concept of move to earn (M2E) differ from play to earn (P2E)?
Play-to-earn (P2E) games reward users for their game play, such as winning battles, advancing to different levels and exploring the in-game universe. Move-to-earn apps use the sensors in the player’s mobile device to track their movements, rewarding them automatically for physical activity.
As with P2E games, some M2E games are free to play, while others require the user to purchase an NFT on a marketplace to get started. As the price of NFTs typically rises as games become popular, this can be an expensive upfront investment before the user can begin earning.
For example, the floor price for an NFT in the STEPN move-to-earn app has climbed from SOL1 in March (worth $133 as of 4 April) at launch to more than SOL8 ($1,064 as of 4 April) (see SOL/USD).
The M2E concept aims to extend the benefits of the blockchain-based rewards concept beyond gaming to promote healthy lifestyles. This coincides with the growth of fitness trackers and employer wellness programmes that provide incentives to employees to exercise. Fitness-based M2E can reduce health insurance premiums and reduce staff absences because of illness. In this way, there is the potential for M2E applications to reach an even wider market than P2E.
Top move to-earn projects
STEPN and Genopets are among the first projects using the move-to-earn model, and have taken off since late 2021, along with WIRTUAL, DEFY and OliveX.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular move-to-earn tokens: STEPN, Genopets and WIRTUAL.
Development of STEPN on the Solana blockchain started in August 2021. The developers participated in the Solana Ignition Hackathon in August to October and started private beta testing the app in November. The public beta launched in December.
In January, STEPN secured seed-round funding from Sequoia Capital, Folius Ventures, Solana Capital and Alameda Research, among other investors.
The STEPN app uses move-to-earn NFT sneakers to track players’ movements outside based on the GPS signal from their mobile device. The game uses a dual-cryptocurrency token structure, with Green Satoshi Token (GST) as the in-game utility token and Green Metaverse Token (GMT) acting as the governance token for participating in the project’s development.
The GMT price has soared by as much as 1,925% since it launched on the Binance exchange on 9 March, trading at a high of $3.11 on 1 April.
At the time of writing, cryptocurrency forecast sites like DigitalCoinPrice and PricePrediction were bullish on GMT’s future prospects, predicting that the price could move into the double-digit range over the coming years.
Genopets is a role-playing game that combines elements of the Tamagotchi digital pet and Pokémon Go battle games with fitness and social incentives. The game uses data on a player’s real-world physical activity generated by their mobile or wearable device to determine their progression through the in-game metaverse.
Genopets are NFT virtual pets that become more valuable as players customise and upgrade them while they move through the Genoverse. Players bank the steps they track to unlock in-game features and abilities.
GENE is the game’s governance and staking token that is used for the in-game NFTs and to provide holders with exclusive features as well as a say in the game’s development. The GENE price quickly gained 188% from its opening price of $13.13 when it launched in November, then fell back as cryptocurrency markets sold off heading into 2022 and dropped to $5.31 on 24 February. But with the markets turning higher in mid-March, the GENE price has rebounded, trading up to $22.79 on 2 April. At the time of writing, 4 April, the coin traded at $14.46.
At the time of writing, cryptocurrency forecast sites were mixed in their predictions for the value of the GENE token in the future, with WalletInvestor projecting that it could trade between $0.70–$6 over the next five years, while PricePrediction expected GENE to trade around $39.87 in 2025 and average $350.44 by 2030.
WIRTTUAL has been in development since 2019 and launched in April 2020 as a trial platform to host virtual fitness events. The app caught the attention of event organisers in Thailand looking to host corporate events for companies like Mitsubishi Electric Thailand (6503), Suntory (STBFY) PepsiCo (PEP) Thailand, NBA Sports Management (NBA) and Bosch Thailand (BOSH).
In the first quarter of 2022, WIRTUAL expanded the app and launched version 2.0, incorporating cryptocurrency, NFT avatars and a tracking system connected to smart watches such as Strava, Fitbit and Garmin. Users receive rewards for tracking and submitting data on their physical activity, with challenges covering running, walking, swimming, dancing, working out and cycling.
Users are represented by NFT avatar characters. Updating their avatars unlocks special features and limited-edition clothes that are 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 a total of 20 million WIRTUAL coins every year, with 55,555.55 coins distributed among users that submit their results based on their activity.
New users receive a maximum of WIRTUAL0.1 per day by default, becoming eligible to receive more coins as they move up through seven holder levels. The virtual clothes on their NFTs allow them to make more than one submission per day and receive higher maximum rewards.
The WIRTUAL coin opened at a price of $0.1572 in its token-launch auction and soared to $1.06 on 19 March after its listing, a gain of 574%. The price slipped back to $0.2858 on 22 March but has since rebounded and traded up to a new high of $1.57 on 2 April.
DigitalCoinPrice projected that WIRTUAL could trade between $1–$2 over the next five years and then move up to nearly $4 by 2030. PricePrediction similarly expected the coin to trade around $1–$2 over the next five years but climb to an average price of $7.97 by 2030.
It’s important to keep in mind that cryptocurrency markets are extremely volatile, making it difficult to accurately predict what a coin’s price will be in a few hours, and even harder to give long-term estimates. That is especially the case for new coins and tokens. As such, analysts and algorithm-based forecasters can and do get their predictions wrong.
If you are considering investing in cryptocurrency tokens, we recommend that you always do your own research. Look at the latest market trends, news, technical and fundamental analysis, and refer to expert opinion before making any investment decisions. Keep in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
As M2E apps are in their early stages of development, their potential as a long-term investment asset is uncertain. There is a risk that after the initial hype, the sector will not achieve widespread adoption and the attention of the market will move to another trend, leaving coins well below their peak value.
What are the most popular move-to-earn (M2E) games?
Among the first M2E games that have taken off are STEPN, Genopets, WIRTUAL, DEFY and OliveX.
Is move-to-earn (M2E) profitable?
Whether an M2E app is profitable depends on a user’s physical activity and the amount of cryptocurrency rewards they can receive, as well as the value of the coins on the open market. As some M2E apps require users to buy an NFT to participate, it can be hard to make a profit if the NFTs are expensive.