Introducing the latest GameFi app that looks to trailblaze new applications for blockchain technology: STEPN. The web3 lifestyle app STEPN is a blockchain based startup that rewards users for exercising. The Australian-based startup first made waves at a Solana hackathon in October 2021 where it quickly gained the attention of investors. Now, it’s got the attention of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and yes–gamers themselves.
How STEPN Works
To get started in STEPN, users must first purchase a digital sneaker by depositing Solana’s native SOL token in STEPN’s in-app wallet. For newbies, Solana is a solid competitor to Ethereum as another POS (proof-of-stake) blockchain but with lower fees and faster transactions. Its native coin SOL or the USDC stablecoin is what users can swap for in exchange for the GST token that are earned in the game.
The sneaker itself can be purchased for 4.5 SOL tokens which accounts for $615. Thus, the game is not necessarily free, but functions as a way for users to gain assets through a gamified environment. As users “level up,” they acquire new kicks that can start to generate an income of up to several thousands per day depending on the current price of STEPN coins and how much they commit to the app.
STEPN utilizes a dual token system with GMT being its governance token. Moreover, GST coins are what users are rewarded with for completing in-app activities and gameplay. This “double earning” system is a feature worth highlighting that helps the game stand apart from competitors.
Is this the GameFi Game that Quiets “Sustainability” Critics?
The digital shoes themselves, which also offer users the option to rent via NFTs, are in the form of a non-fungible token themselves and can therefore be resold later. The financial sustainability of the game itself has been one of much debate. Placing a business model into the realms of a game infer that users’ interest for the game must be maintained. If not, users will just cash out their coins, leaving the game to solely rely on “word of mouth” to spread.
It’s hard to have a discussion on GameFi apps without mentioning Sky Mavis’s Axie Infinity. Axie Infinity is another example of a play-to-earn game that plummeted after its massive rise.
This took place after the game’s token lost 80% of its value, which caused sales volume for Sky Mavis to drop off an Everest-like cliff going from $754 million to $5 million.
For now, it appears that STEPN is self-sustainable. According to a TechCrunch report, it has generated 3 to 5 million dollars in net profit while earning up to $100 million every month. This is promising considering the start-up came from a $5 million seed funding from Sequoia Capital India, Folius Ventures, and others who participated in closing its initial deal.
How STEPN Looks to Stand Apart
In regards to its business model, STEPN gains fees via in-app activities for its users. Yawn Rong, the blockchain venture capitalist who co-founded STEPN, reports that the app earns 8% fees on sneaker rentals, 6% on sneaker minting, and 4% on marketplace sneaker trading. A breakdown of these costs can be found in the project’s whitepaper.
Entrepreneur co-founder Jerry Huang believes the simplicity of the gameplay is what will make the game last:
“A lot of the triple-A games overemphasize aesthetics and big budgets, but they aren’t really that innovative when it comes to gameplay, whereas some simple-looking games like Plants vs. Zombies come with brilliant gameplay that makes them last.”
Regardless of people’s opinion on GameFi apps, the fact is that the game is being played in over 90 countries as of today. The hottest markets for the game include the U.S., China, and India.
Moreover, the physical activity that the game rewards adds value to the app as it provides an innovative way for people to literally cash in on their exercise. STEPN appears to be making ways for move-to-earn concept to grow in crypto as another move-to-earn NFT gaming app Genopets recently raised $8.5 million in seed funding, though it is not yet active.