Technology has poised Gen Zs to be the fittest generation of them all. Think Peleton bikes, Fitbits, live stream Zumba classes, and apps like Classpass that have facilitated a tribe of fitness class connoisseurs.
Believe it or not, we’re still facing an epidemic of childhood obesity, heart strokes, and type 2 diabetes. If the doctor ordered more exercise, how do we actually get people to comply?
The answer lies in video games— kind of. What’s more relaxing than getting home from a long day at the office, or from school than playing a few rounds of your favorite video game? Numerous studies have shown the spike in dopamine stimulated by video game playing.
In recent years, with the rise of blockchain and NFTS, gaming companies have pivoted to center their business model around play to earn games, where players can essentially win fragments of an NFT, that can be cashed in for physical value. That’s two incentives in one.
A concept that might seem completely detached from physical activity, can be repurposed to help the general population engage in more physical activity. By extracting human’s desire for immediate gratification and reward, we can incentivize people to move and earn money.
The Current Fitness Crypto Market
The global fitness market reached $96 billion in 2019. Wearable technologies and various tracking devices have in many ways complimented people’s motivation to become healthier. “The rising wearables market can be largely attributed to the convergence between fitness and health data,” says Samik Chatterjee. Head of J.P. Morgan U.S. Telecom & Networking Equipment/IT Hardware.
Accessibility and motivation are key to scaling any type of fitness program. Not everyone can afford a Peleton Bike, but most likely they already have phones or watches. With the added reward of earning passive income through exercise, crypto fitness projects seem like an alluring path forward. Although cryptocurrency is still met with a generous degree of skepticism from the general public, crypto fitness projects aim to resolve this problem through decentralization and using in-house crypto tokens created on the trusted Binance network.
Stepn’s curious rise in the market
Image credits: STEPN
A few companies are already trailblazing this area. STEPN rose in popularity as a “Web 3.0 lifestyle app with social fit and gamefi elements”. In terms of accessibility, the app comes with a pedometer so users don’t need anything besides a phone. After installing the app, users have to transfer SOL to their digital wallets in order to buy a pair of sneakers. These sneakers act as the user’s source of energy throughout the game, which is replenished by 25% automatically after every 6 hours. There are four tiers of sneakers each with different efficiency levels which contribute to how much crypto you can earn per minute of exercise.
The base model cost around 11.90 Solana (SOL) at the time of writing, or $1,068.50.The game employs a two-token system, where users gain Green Satoshi Tokens for every 5 minutes of activity (GST). A potential problem with STEPN, is that you inherently have to buy more sneakers in order to earn more bang for your buck. Users start with a daily energy cap, and that cap is only raised after you buy another pair of sneakers or two. They also have a competitive feature where you can compete against community members in marathons, and users at the top of the leader board are rewarded with crypto.
Free crypto fitness apps
There are applications where a startup investment is not required. Take Step, another app that utilizes the Binance network that incentivizes users to earn cryptocurrency through walking. As their motto “let’s get wealthier and healthier together,” users are rewarded with tokens for their daily steps. However, only after 18k tokens are collected, are users eligible to cash out for rewards. Users also have the option to stake their tokens and earn passive income depending on the size of the staking pool.
Step has a maximum of 1 billion tokens in supply, with 5% of tokens being released on a 21-day cycle. It utilizes an android accelerometer and Google Fit data to accumulate data on the user’s daily steps and distance, which is used to calculate an internal score and passed on to our blockchain system to distribute rewards. One of the most prevalent things is that outside of health data, no user information is required, a hallmark of a decentralized, user-centered experience.
Another free application is InSHAPE which is set to launch in 2023. It utilizes a freemium model, where users can download for free but are subject to a lower mining limit, of 4 SHAPE per day. Whereas, the premium version allows subjects to mine up to 100 SHAPE per day. Exercise is simply calculated by 1000 step intervals and everything is rounded to the nearest whole number. The app encourages the user to burn more energy through different levels of intensity, The higher the intensity the more SHAPE you “burn”. At the highest level, you can mine up to 3000 SHAPES per month. At the lowest level, 1-2 hours of leisurely walking would equate to 120 SHAPE. SHAPE is traded on the Binance Smart Chain and employs a 5% burn function for every transaction. At the time of writing, it has approximately 13k users on Telegram and 16k on Twitter.
OliveX is capitalizing on the success gamification has had in crypto communities and incorporating the element of fitness tracking. Users can walk, jog or run while the game stimulates their movements in real-time. They have a total of 4 products including a game called Zombie Run! that boasts 200 missions and 1 million players.
How do the models compare: Play-to-Earn vs Move-to-EarnImage Image credits: Impakt
One of the prevailing criticisms of the P2E model is that it only benefits early entry users and game creators because they rely on new entrants to buy their assets to make money. This leads to token and asset prices depreciating because of the excess amount of sellers.
Another potential constraint is that P2E models often require an investment, buying the game’s token to participate. Such as Axie Infinity, a popular P2E game that’s currency AXS, appreciated by 18 000% over 2021, requires participants to buy 3 Axies to participate. Sorare, similarly requires a player to acquire player cards.
The reason why these games are so appealing is that players can always create value that can be sold in the future, unlike traditional video games.
John Keh, the co-founder of an upcoming M2E app Impakt, says “the difference between P2E and M2E is that M2E has a utility. You get actual utility for your life because you are exercising instead of just clicking on an Axie, etc.”
Impakt’s model allows everyone to access the reward system free of cost, with the option to invest in NFTs to gain more tokens through exercise.
What the future holds for M2E
Given the popularity of Axie Infinity and this rising tide of M2E startups, we can predict that the market saturation is bound to only increase in the following years. However, the ones that will likely outlast the rest are the “ones that can bring a unique value proposition” says Keh.
Burn function is an important attribute of sustainability and reliability. As the value of the coins increases or decrease based on the number of participants in the market—it’s expected that apps will have to incorporate an automated burn function within the game to ascertain the value of the coin.
Introducing crypto and decentralization to the fitness world naturally creates a hybrid community. Both these industries depend on community backing to be successful, and companies that have a social impact are likely to gain more supporters, beyond just the video game crowd that P2E attracted.
Is M2E a fad?
While many M2E is a fad, the potential to turn exercise into a rewarding and seamless experience may turn the non-crypto enthusiast into a daily user.
Not everyone enjoys video games, but everyone enjoys a little extra cash. It’s clear that more people are tuning into their health goals with the help of technology, and M2E gives the added benefit of data security and passive earning. This is just a new STEP into the future, where value can be partially owned by its creator; and in this case, it’s anyone who’s willing to lace up their shoes.