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The Success of Move-To-Earn: STEPN

STEPN is a move-to-earn Web 3 application that has taken the crypto world by storm. Founded by Find Satoshi Lab and having released the public beta version of the app in December 2021, STEPN is a Solana-based Web 3 “lifestyle app” with Social-Fi and Game-Fi elements. To participate in the app, users must first purchase a sneaker NFT from the platform. Users can then earn Green Satoshi Tokens, or GSTs, by running while the app tracks an individual’s steps, and can own GMT tokens, which provide in-game governance rights. These tokens can be spent in the game, sold on an exchange that it is listed on like Binance, or used to mint a new NFT.

STEPN has scaled its daily active users to 100,000 as of March 2022 and earned $26 million in its first quarter. In addition, investors in the app include Sequoia Capital, Solana Capital and Alameda Research. In this article, we will dive into how STEPN works, why it has been so successful and its potential to affect GameFi more broadly.

1. How to Play

STEPN can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play onto a mobile device. Once downloaded, users must allow the app access to their location and health data. The next step is to register a game account on the app and create a Solana wallet. Within the app, users can connect their on-chain Solana wallet to the app. This enables users to deposit SOL into the Solana wallet and use SOL to participate in the game.

With SOL, users can view the trading market on the app where SOL can be used to buy NFT sneakers. Users also have the option to rent a pair of NFT sneakers.

Source: Game Info

After an initial purchase, users typically need to wait for a 6-hour recovery period before they can use their NFT sneakers. However, once that time period has passed, one simply needs to select the sneakers they wish to use for their trip and press “start” in the app; after this, the app automatically records the distance and speed in which a user travels via GPS. It is important that during a user’s walk or run that they do not exceed the “optimal speed” for their shoes, as it could affect the efficiency in which they earn GST tokens — STEPN’s utility tokens.

In terms of energy in the game, one energy point is consumed approximately every 5 minutes during a user’s walk and GST rewards are calculated at intervals — the amount depends on how fast a user walks and the quality of one’s sneakers.

Source: Game Info

With GST rewards, users can either upgrade their sneakers for attributes. such as increased efficiency and flexibility, or repair their sneakers. Repairing one’s sneakers is important in the app because if the durability of one’s sneakers is below 50%, walking and running efficiency is greatly reduced. GST tokens can also be saved for future in-game expenses or exchanged back into SOL on a Solana wallet.

Moreover, STEPN has gems at each level of the game — the higher the level of gems, the higher the basic quality that one’s shoes will be. However, the percentage of growth of one’s shoes when gems are attained also depends on a user’s shoe quality to begin with — better quality sneakers will experience a better effect from the user’s gems. Gems can only be obtained at Level 5, 10, 15 and 20 by opening a treasure chest or purchasing one from the app’s marketplace.

Source: Game Info

STEPN’s complexity and game design ultimately allows for various strategies for players. For instance, some players choose to be active participants by running and earning tokens, while others buy and sell NFT sneakers for profit on the app. This empowers an intricate gaming ecosystem that users can experiment with.

2. Reasons for Success

Unlike NFT PFP projects that may simply act as status symbols, and GameFi 1.0 play-to-earn games that push players to prioritise profit and focus only on a virtual world, STEPN’s value lies in the fact that it allows for satisfaction in the monetary sense, as well as both the virtual and physical sense. Not only does STEPN lie at the intersection of the physical and virtual world, but also spiritual and economic satisfaction. This explains STEPN’s success and its differentiation as part of GameFi 2.0, shifting towards a play-with-earn model and away from a play-to-earn model.

In a post-pandemic era, after lockdowns and home isolation, some even attribute STEPN’s boom to the public’s intensified need for sports and increased health consciousness. The app’s low participation threshold is yet another contributing factor to its success.

Overall, STEPN illustrates characteristics of a developing GameFi 2.0 landscape, and how novel gameplay and business models can spur the progression of Web 3.0.

About Aspen Digital

Aspen Digital is a leading technology and financial services company with a mission to accelerate the mass adoption of digital assets. The company provides a digital asset management solution for asset managers, institutions, and sophisticated investors. Aspen Digital was co-founded by digital assets innovators and asset management veterans at Everest Ventures Group (“EVG”) and TT Bond Partners (“TTB”) in 2021.

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