EntertainmentGamesFrom play to earn to move to earn: where...

From play to earn to move to earn: where are we going in gaming


Many of us have still not 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 phenomenon of the game Pokémon GO began to reach the top all over the world and reached 600 million downloads.

The fashions return and that essence has come back stomping 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 movement of the player and their outdoor activities to obtain rewards. Unlike Pokémon GO, Move-to-earn has fully entered 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 gamers and are, in fact, one of the axes of the trends that dominate the video game industry.

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. Tokens earned through apps within this trend can be exchanged for cryptocurrency or current in-game assets. 

In other words, Move-to-earn “gamifies” physical activity by compensating 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. Surely more unconsciously, Pokémon GO achieved something similar. Since the game was released, players taking more than 10,000 steps a day have gone from 15% to more than 27%. One study added that it reduced sedentary lifestyle by 30 minutes a day; All these factors implied an improvement in the physical condition of the people who played Pokémon GO. 

A relatively new movement

It is early 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 Move-to-earn. STEPN, a Web3 life application, is surely one of the best known as it is 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 that’s not enough, it’s 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 will be rewarded based on his effort. In addition, you can compete in a friendly way with other players. 

Despite the fact that Move-to-earn is an incipient fad, STEPN is very close to success. In May, the application reached the month of one million active users and the monthly ones 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. STEPN’s popularity has, however, a downside: the increase in the value of its token and, therefore, its price. GMT, the app asset has risen in value by almost 2500% from December 2021 till now. This has caused the entry barrier to access the game to be increasingly limited. To be able to enter STEPN it is necessary to buy an NFT shoe and, if this is more and more expensive, fewer people will be able to afford it. 

The big differences

The operation of this game is based on raising digital pets and training them to fight. Once 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 feeding 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 gamer 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 dollars in Solana assets-. The other problem is the volatility of its own digital currency. Regardless of how the price can vary to start playing, the rewards can be profitable one day and have practically nothing of value days later. It is the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, but this feature can make it difficult for a future player to know which app he can trust. 

The halo of mistrust

Move-to-earn is shrouded in suspicion in this context because it resembles a Ponzi scheme in many ways. First, let’s 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, structures that feed on the money put in by the “new” and that makes it seem like it is a lucrative business. It’s really 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 -referring specifically to cases such as that of STEPN- to revalue and increase its price. How far it will grow and when it can 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, the fact that an application pays players to take a walk or go for a run attracts, at least, attention. 

The same company 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 big unknown. For now, the operation of the application continues to have overtones of a Ponzi scheme. Mainly because despite the fact that 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 their shoes (they wear out over time, digitally speaking) and, also, if a player buys the most expensive ones, he has higher rewards. 

In short, this Move-to-earn model tries to ensure that the player does not invest their crypto assets outside the application, but to improve their 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. 

The doubts of 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, Play-to-Earn. While in previous phenomena the player was paid to obtain skins, in this modality the user pays to access the game. In return, you are promised that you will recoup your investment if you spend time playing the game. As we mentioned before, it is no longer free to play, now 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 minimum to be able to access-, which are actually an NFT, and breed them. The reward comes in the form of Axie’s own token for feeding them, training them, and winning battles with other pets in the game. 

Coindesk published a report stating that Axie Infinity users in the Philippines and Vietnam had quit their jobs because they were getting paid more through in-game rewards. Again, there was speculation about the bubble behind this structure and that it can be very dangerous for users. Easy money projects come just as fast as they go and the NFT fever has shown us that stability is not one of the strong points of some crypto assets.

In fact, Axie’s token, AXS, already suffered a significant drop in 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 an alarm bell for those who want to invest in a single project. They are models that are changing the video game sector thanks to blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFT. Despite the innovation, the critical eye does not hurt. Nor be aware that the gains will not be forever. 

Go for the change in 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 industry was to be on an e-Sports team. But now everyone can be part of this ecosystem and feed it, especially those who dedicate a lot of time to it. 

The debate, in addition to the volatility of the 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 report of the players from the Philippines- they use it to earn a living and obtain income. We can no longer escape cryptocurrencies and blockchain, so much so that it is getting into many sectors of our lives. In the case of video games, a 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. 

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