The Evolution of Move2Earn and Web3 Games4Good
Despite being in a crypto bear market, many great teams continue to build and grow their communities. Perhaps the hottest area in the past several months is the metaverse and Web3 gaming overall.
In recent months I went deep down the metaverse rabbit hole in the search of use cases that can bridge virtual worlds and the real world (IRL) and in particular what is the right strategy for our web3 mobility network we are building as an app chain on Cosmos. Our first commercial partnership in the metaverse is with the Next Earth, the first web 3 earth-based metaverse and our first client to join us there is Vueling Airlines.
Our desire to expand the reach of the Internet of Mobility network into “gaming” environments has now led us down a new rabbit hole: move to earn (M2E).
What is Move to Earn?
Like everything in crypto, nothing is ever black and white when it comes to definitions. In fact some would argue the first ever M2E game was Pokemon Go (even though there was no direct crypto or financial rewards). However this definition from Phemex is as good as any:
Move-to-Earn is a fast-growing concept that rewards users with cryptocurrency for performing fitness activities. It combines GameFi, NFTs and GPS technology to track users’ movements; this data is stored on a blockchain and converted into rewards, typically in the form of cryptocurrency.
As those who have read my previous posts on the metaverse, or have a sense for the decentralized Internet of Mobility network we are building, you will know that we are particularly interested in how blockchchain tech can impact our real life and improve our relationship to the planet as well. This is a topic under-explored amongst the constant speculative nature of PFP type NFT projects and token go up mentality that is pervasive in crypto (especially in bull markets).
But so many brilliant people around the globe are into crypto for something much bigger. A great reset of how we live, how our economy can be more inclusive, and how we can live more in harmony with nature. One of the many reasons I am excited we at IoM chose to build our app chain on Cosmos is the deep values alignment we have with the founding team on these topics.
Current status of M2E
Many actually point to the outsized success of Pokemon Go when it was released 6+ years ago as the starting point for the M2E movement. Of course that was not a crypto-based solution and the earning part was more indirect. Fast forward to the past few years and we have seen an explosion in m2e projects that seem to have been inspired from the Play2Earn (P2E) space.
Two of the most successful M2E projects are SweatCoin and STEP’N and their meteoric rise has been impressive. SweatCoin was founded in 2016 and rewards users with points (not crypto yet) for the number of steps they take. Since launch SweatCoin has amassed an astounding 100mn downloads (not sure of their daily active user count).
As of today, SweatCoin allows users to exchange points for promoted items from their sponsors. However it is expected they will be releasing their own token as soon as September so users will also earn crypto going forward. Like most M2E projects, SweatCoin takes pride in incentivizing users to improve their health by exercising more.
Meanwhile STEP’N has gotten the most attention recently as a crypto native M2E project initially built during a Solana hackathon about a year ago. In a short amount of time, STEP’N has achieve some impressive feats: more than 100k daily active users, a reported 120mn 2nd quarter profit (yes I wrote profit not revenue!) and a token market cap as of today of more than $500 million. All of this in less than a year. STEP’N also claims that the majority of their players are actually first time crypto users and as such has started to leverage their role as an onboarding platform to launch new products geared to such users including a DEX on Solana and plans for a new NFT marketplace (not just for their own NFTs but other projects too).
The Future of M2E and its greater impact
M2E as a project type is starting to emerge as a legitimate vertical worth paying attention to. The fact that it helps people bridge IRL (in real life) with crypto like in the case of STEP’N to encourage people to get outdoors and touch grass, while earning-and learning about-crypto is awesome. The biggest critique of M2E is the same critique we hear about P2E. The token economics may often be too ponzi style (creating a loop of unlimited token earning tied to more spending of tokens to buy NFTs, upgrades, etc. within the game whereby the only way the projects can survive and thrive is through hype and growing users…).
All the projects in this space, including STEP’N are taking active measures to introduce more sinks and burning mechanics to try to create a more sustainable model long term. This will have to happen.
Another thing I am excited about is the growing recognition that M2E can also reduce our collective carbon footprints by getting people to choose more sustainable ways to move around. Without disclosing too much just yet, stay tuned as IoM is about to announce our latest initiative: WheelCoin which will leverage M2E mechanics (without the ponzi) to encourage people to make more sustainable mobility choices. We expect the beta to go live by the end of September!
Stay tune as this space is only just getting started.
About the Author
Boyd Cohen is the CEO and Co-founder of Iomob, a decentralized internet of mobility (IoM) network. Since obtaining his Ph.D. in strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado in 2001, he spent the past two decades focused on accelerating the path to a low-carbon sustainable economy. This included publishing 3 books, multiple peer reviewed articles, frequently contributing to Fast Company and starting a handful of ventures in the smart cities and sustainability arena.