STEPN Introduces Expensive ‘Move-to-Earn’ NFTs


The Solana-based move-to-earn project, STEPN, gains momentum despite the high cost of in-game NFTs. How’s the game booming despite the overpriced requirements for participation?

STEPN: Steady Gains in Fitness and Tokens

There were mixed reactions when blockchain developers, Find Satoshi Lab launched a new GameFi project on December 20, 2021. They demonstrated the concept of a Move-to-Earn mobile NFT, which was a physical take on the well-known Play-to-Earn projects. Some investors were skeptical, while others were excited by the prospects of ‘earning tokens while exercising.’

The creators called the game model STEPN, and it presents stimulating real-life applicability for players. It incentivizes physical fitness by encouraging users to walk, jog, and run, so you earn tokens for every step you take. 

The initial skepticism of the project is understandable considering the recent series of events surrounding the P2E industry. The P2E sector has recently come under strict scrutiny following the $620 million Ronin hack. And, since P2E essentially inspired the Move-to-Earn concept, it was only natural for people to have doubts.

However, STEPN has successfully convinced many of its doubters to dump their fears, and a few months after its inception, the M2E project has taken off, and STEPN is currently thriving. In an interview with CoinDesk correspondents, the Chief Business Officer for Find Satoshi Labs, Shiti Manghani, confirmed that the project recorded 100,000 daily active users in mid-March 2022. He further claimed that the number has since doubled, with the app having more than a million downloads across different platforms.

NFT Sneakers: The Expensive Tickets for Participating in STEPN

Exercising with STEPN presents a legit way to earn free GST tokens. Still, it comes with a catch, and like Axie Infinity, eligibility for reward depends on NFT ownership. You can only get tokens if you own STEPN’s NFT sneakers available for purchase in the game’s mobile app. Running ‘shoeless’ (without a STEPN NFT in your mobile app) will not earn you rewards for your steps. 

Buying the NFT sneakers shouldn’t be a problem, except that they are pretty pricey and keep increasing; as of the time of this piece, the cheapest STEPN sneakers cost 11.5 SOL (approximately $1,100). 

So, while earning tokens during physical exercises seems lucrative, the huge upfront investment required to acquire the NFT sneakers may be discouraging for most players. But interestingly, the M2E movement keeps increasing despite the cost of participation. STEPN’s daily NFT trading volume grosses over $12 million on Solana.

NFT Leasing: Exercise and Earn Using Other Investor’s Shoes

With the value of sneaker NFTs increasing, it’s not surprising that there are individuals who aren’t participating because they can’t afford it. STEPN intends to create a feature that gives such individuals the opportunity to earn without owning NFT sneakers. 

The proposed rental feature will allow shoeless users to lease other players’ sneakers for free, but they may have to share their earnings with the sneaker owners.  However, there are speculations that leasing digital assets in M2E projects can foster digital serfdom, much like in P2E games. Unfortunately, the game creators are yet to address these concerns. Recent trends indicate that people are willing to invest in these projects irrespective of the capital investment involved.

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