Move-To-Earn (M2E)

What Is Move-To-Earn (M2E)?

Move-to-earn (M2E) apps have developed as an offshoot of the play-to-earn (P2E) model that has taken off in gaming – rather than earning financial incentives for gameplay, users earn rewards for engaging in physical activity.

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The concept of incentivizing people to engage in physical exercise as part of a healthier lifestyle is not new. Companies and health insurance providers have for many years rewarded employees and customers with vouchers, discounts, and other rewards for tracking regular participation in sports and fitness activities.

M2E apps, however, leverage blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies to gamify the process and introduce new functionalities.

How Does Move-To-Earn Work? 

By definition, move-to-earn involves users earning rewards for physical movement – walking, jogging, running, dancing, or playing sports.

An M2E app acts like a fitness tracker on a mobile device to determine the user’s activity. Users receive rewards for their activity in the form of cryptocurrencies or unique in-app digital assets. They can use these rewards to buy or upgrade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to help them progress to higher membership tiers.

In this way, M2E brings together blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs, decentralized finance (DeFi), Global Positioning System (GPS), and gaming technologies to create new applications.

Apps typically issue their own M2E cryptocurrency tokens on blockchains such as Avalanche, Ethereum, or Solana. Apps like STEPN operate dual-token economic models, where one token is used for in-app activities, and the other is used to participate in governance.

Users can convert their move-to-earn crypto rewards into real money by converting them into other cryptocurrencies or withdrawing fiat currency from exchanges.

Users can also earn more crypto and NFT assets from staking, trading, and minting. Move-to-earn apps that incorporate gaming finance (GameFi) often provide staking so that users can lock their cryptocurrencies or NFTs to the blockchain to receive rewards. Some apps enable users to mint special NFTs, which they can then use or trade on in-app or secondary marketplaces.

Move-To-Earn vs. Play-To-Earn

While M2E apps emerged from the P2E model, there are some differences as well as similarities in how they work.

While P2E gamers earn rewards for progressing through levels, winning battles, competitions, and contests, and exploring virtual worlds in online games, M2E users earn rewards for physical movement.

Like the P2E model, some M2E apps are free to sign up and use, whereas others require new users to buy one or more NFTs – such as virtual sneakers – to participate.  

Some platforms integrate the two models into move-to-earn games so that players’ movement in the physical world determines their performance in the virtual world, for instance, moving around to level up their NFT-based character avatar. Some apps allow users to compete with friends or other users around the world for fun or to earn contest rewards.

Comparison Factors Move-to-Earn Play-to-Earn
Definition Users earn rewards through physical activity. Users earn rewards by playing video games.
Primary Activity Physical movement and exercise. Video gaming.
Examples Fitness apps, health trackers. Blockchain-based gaming platforms.
Participation Free-to-play or pay-to-play. Free-to-play or pay-to-play.
Incentives Rewards based on physical achievements. Rewards based on in-game accomplishments.
Reward Withdrawal Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, charity donations, prizes. Cryptocurrencies or NFTs.
Competition Compete with friends and other users worldwide. Compete with friends and other users worldwide.

Note that these are general differences, and specific implementations of M2E and P2E concepts may vary.

Move-To-Earn Game Examples

There is a wide variety of move-to-earn games, with some of their cryptocurrencies having reached market capitalizations of tens of millions of dollars.

Some of the popular M2E game examples include:

  • STEPN: The first M2E to take off in popularity in 2022, STEPN was initially built on the Solana blockchain and later joined the Binance BNB Chain. Users buy NFT sneakers from its marketplace to get started and earn its Green Metaverse Token (GMT) and Green Satoshi Token (GST) for their activity.
  • Sweat Economy: Sweatcoin was launched in 2016 as a non-crypto virtual token to reward the app’s users for physical activity. But users can now convert their Sweatcoin to the SWEAT crypto token. Users mint SWEAT from their step count from walking measured in the app.
  • Walken: A cat-themed walking and running app in which users own NFT avatars called CAThletes, earn GEM in-app tokens to upgrade their NFTs, and compete to win WLKN tokens. The more users walk, the more they can compete with their CAThletes in battle games.
  • Step App: The Step App rewards users for walking, running, competing with other users, chatting, and exploring the app’s metaverse or the real world. Step App’s FITFI token is used for governance, while the KCAL in-app token buys SNEAK NFTs and allows users to mine, earn, and stake more rewards.
  • Dotmoovs: The AI-based Dotmoovs app rewards users for playing sports by recording their movements using their phone camera. Athletes can collect MOOVs tokens and NFTs by participating in challenges, increasing their rankings, or completing milestones. An AI referee scores players’ performance, while an AI coach provides tips on how to play and improve.
  • Genopets: Combines battle arena gameplay with pet NFT avatars and M2E functionality as players level up their NFT by exercising in the real world. The GENE token is used for creating in-game NFTs as well as governance and staking.

Cryptocurrencies are often highly volatile and can be susceptible to market manipulation and face regulatory uncertainties. As such, it’s important to conduct due diligence when trading or investing in M2E coins and only invest what you can afford to lose.

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Nicole Willing

Nicole is a professional journalist with 20 years of experience in writing and editing. Her expertise spans both the tech and financial industries. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. She holds a degree in Journalism from City University, London. Having embraced the digital nomad lifestyle, she can usually be found on the beach brushing sand out of her keyboard in between snorkeling trips.