The Move-to-Earn (M2E) genre, which tracks users’ movement via geo-tracking and rewards them for physical activity, has gained recognition in the blockchain industry, with Ad Move-to-Earn protocol surpassing GameFi in search interest. However, the genre is still relatively new, with only two projects on Solana: Walken and STEPN. By analyzing on-chain activity within these two projects, we can identify some key lessons for future M2E projects launching in 2023.
First and foremost, timing matters for GameFi projects. STEPN launched before the bull market’s peak and experienced a massive jump in market cap when ETH had its April bounce. However, as alt-coins collapsed in the spring of 2022, so did STEPN. While STEPN has made improvements to its features and UI, there has yet to be a recovery in market cap and token prices. In contrast, Walken launched seven months after STEPN and has seen a user surge and growth as the market has begun to recover.
Retention is essential for M2E projects, and onboarding new users is critical. STEPN has a more intuitive onboarding process, as the connection between running shoes and running is more direct than cartoon cats and walking. However, NFT quality, rarity, and mints are foreign concepts for a crypto newbie. Furthermore, a user must purchase an NFT to start playing, which is a significant friction point. In contrast, Walken offers a more straightforward approach by providing new users with a CAThlete when they first open the app, leading to daily automatic rewards. This approach has less friction than requiring the user to purchase an NFT and then remember to incorporate the app into their daily run manually.
Finally, narratives matter in GameFi, and communities are fickle. While both Walken and STEPN have sleek, mobile-first apps that gamify exercise, Walken has a more positive trend in its NFT trading volume and token price. This can be attributed to Walken’s ability to ride a wave of optimism in GameFi and the Solana ecosystem, as opposed to being stuck in the narrative of regaining former value.
In conclusion, M2E projects must get users active and address any friction points in the onboarding process. Timing and community narrative also play a significant role in determining the success of a GameFi project. While the M2E genre is still in its early stages, Walken and STEPN offer valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, providing some key lessons for future M2E projects launching in 2023.