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An Overview of STEPN: A Move-to-Earn Protocol That Pays You to be Active

STEPN combines Social-Fi and Game-Fi elements in a Web3 lifestyle application, where you can earn the in-game tokens by walking, jogging or running outdoors.

Leading the Move-to-Earn Sector

The GameFi sector is poised to lead the next wave of crypto adoption, and in addition to the play-to-earn model, there is also the move-to-earn (M2E) model. STEPN, one of the top M2E games, has gained a massive 31,000% in profits after its token sale on Binance Launchpad on March 2.

STEPN combines Social-Fi and Game-Fi elements in a Web3 lifestyle application. By walking, jogging, or running outdoors, you can earn GST, the in-game token, which can be used to level up and mint new Sneakers.

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A Brief Background

Satoshi Lab, the parent company of STEPN, was founded in 2021 by Jerry Huang and Yawn Rong. Following a recruitment drive in September 2021, the STEPN team was placed fourth at the Solana Ignition Hackathon in December 2021, attracting investor interest.

Afterward, STEPN raised $5 million in seed round funding from 6th Man Ventures, Alameda Research, Corner Ventures and others. The M2E platform made substantial gains of $26.8 million in the first quarter of 2022, as the number of unique accounts on the platform increased.

Starting With STEPN Application

1. Download and Install STEPN

Too begin, head over to the STEPN website. You can download the app for Android or iOS by tapping the download button.

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2. Create an Account

After the installation is complete, you will need to sign up with your email address. Now you'll receive a verification code in your email. After entering the code, tap Login within one minute.

After that, STEPN will ask for the Activation Code. The STEPN activation code can be found on the STEPN Discord server, STEPN Reddit, and many other crypto discussion forums.

Source: STEPN app

3. Create a STEPN Wallet

Once you have completed the signup and activation code process, you will land on the app homepage. Your mobile screen will have a wallet icon on the top right corner. Tap on it. You will now see two tabs: Spending and Wallet. Click on Wallet. After tapping the Wallet, a pop-up will appear. The Seed Phrase can be used to create a new wallet or import an existing one.

Let's go with ‘create a new wallet’ within the app. Tap on ‘create a new wallet’. STEPN will then ask you to create a password that you will need to lock/unlock your wallet. You will then see a Seed Phrase. In addition to storing it digitally, store it physically, too. Your STEPN wallet will be accessible to anyone who knows your seed phrase.

Source: STEPN app

4. Transfer SOL to STEPN Wallet

Go to the in-app wallet and copy the receiving address by tapping on ‘Receive’ after setting the password and storing the seed phrase. Then, go to your preferred exchange to buy and withdraw $SOL. Tap withdrawal on the exchange’s app.

Enter your STEPN wallet address and the amount of SOL you wish to send. Then, check your STEPN wallet after 5 minutes from completing the verification.

5. Get a pair of NFT Sneakers

To earn money in STEPN, you must buy an NFT Sneaker that matches your fitness level.

There are several options available:

  • Walker (1-6 km/ hr)
  • Jogger (4-10 km/ hr)
  • Runner (8-20 km/ hr)
  • Trainer (1-20 km/ hr)

There is an in-app marketplace where you can buy the NFT Sneakers. In addition to Sneakers, you can also buy Shoeboxes. There is one Sneaker in a Shoebox at random. At the time of writing, Sneakers have a floor price of between 2.14 $SOL and 2.55 $SOL (about $78 to $93).

Source: STEPN app

In total, currently you will need about 2-3 $SOL to start with STEPN. Apart from the Sneaker price, make sure to have a small amount of $SOL available to cover gas fees. $GST returns for each Sneaker varies.

The NFT Sneaker page contains all the details, including:

  • Quality: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary
  • Efficiency: Enhances GST token earnings
  • Luck: Enhances mystery box drop rate
  • Comfort: Enhances GMT token earnings (at level 30)
  • Resilience: Reduces repair costs
Source: STEPN app

6. Go for a Run Outside

After getting your NFT Sneaker, use GPS while you run, walk or jog outside. You will earn guaranteed earnings if your GPS signal is strong. A low GPS signal or no signal will result in low to no gains. The app is designed to detect and disregard non-organic movement (i.e., using an electric scooter or strapping your phone to your dog). Further, you must maintain the optimal speed depending on the Sneaker you choose.

7. Burn $GST/$GMT

In STEPN, burning $GST means spending it.

  • You can level up your Sneakers with $GST/$GMT earned to make them more efficient.
  • You can keep or sell the Sneakers you mint.
  • $GST/$GMT can be swapped for $USDC.

Let's now examine the tokenomics of STEPN.

Tokenomics

The STEPN cryptocurrency economic model consists of two tokens. $GST is the utility token used to pay out in-app rewards. The token has an unlimited supply but is burned every time it is minted, repaired, or upgraded.

With a maximum supply capped at 6 billion, the Green Metaverse Token ($GMT) is STEPN's governance token and the primary store of value for investors. 

Under a vesting schedule until March 2030, GMT’s supply is allocated as follows:

  • 30% to in-app rewards
  • 30% retained in the treasury
  • 16.3% reserved for private sales
  • 14.2% retained by the team
  • 7% reserved for the Binance launchpad sale
  • 2.5% was given to advisers.
Source

GMT holders can stake their tokens to participate in voting rounds. In a collective vote, token holders decided to donate a percentage of tokens to a carbon offset program.

Rewards are generally paid out in GST, but certain parameters, like having level 30 Sneakers, allow them to be earned in GMT. Over time, the token emission rate decreases due to various mechanisms, including a halving schedule.

Additional Features

Mystery Boxes

Mystery Boxes are dropped randomly while you are moving in Solo Mode. It contains $GST and Gems (Level 1 – 3). Each user has four Mystery Box slots. There are 10 qualities of Mystery Boxes. Upon receiving a Mystery Box, the countdown begins automatically. When the countdown ends, users spend a small amount of $GST (a “base cost”) to open it. Countdown duration increases with the quality of a Mystery Box.

Sneaker Quality

There are five qualities of Sneakers (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, and Legendary). When a Sneaker is minted, each attribute's value is chosen randomly between the minimum and maximum values dictated by the Sneaker’s quality. Therefore, even Sneakers of the same quality may have significantly different attribute levels. Users need to burn $GMT to level up their Sneakers when certain milestones are reached. 

Shoe Minting

During a Shoe-Minting Event (SME), users use two Sneakers they own as blueprints to "breed," creating a Shoebox. For reference, the two Sneakers will be called Vintages (Parents).

In order to begin an SME, both Vintages must be in the user's possession (not leased) and fully durable. Users can then select a Sneaker to "breed" with by visiting the Mint tab, selecting the Sneaker, and pressing Mint. Both Vintages have a 72-hour Minting cooldown, although they can still be used for movement during this period. Learn about the Minting Costs here.

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Game Modes

Solo Mode

Users earn tokens in Solo Mode by wearing NFT Sneakers. Energy is required to earn $GST. Energy replenishes only after users acquire an NFT Sneaker: 1 Energy equals 5 minutes of Move-to-Earn movement. 

Marathon Mode (Under Development)

Marathon Mode requires users to register under the Marathon Tab 24 hours in advance. Marathons will be held on both a weekly and a monthly basis. Learn more about weekly marathons and monthly marathons here.

The Market Downturn Affects STEPN

The price of STEPN tokens have dove along with the general bear market, as both the governance token and utility token are down between 80% and 98% from their all-time highs earlier this year. At their peak in April, $GMT and $GST were $4.19 and $9.36, respectively. Since then, both tokens have been trending downwards, and the situation appears grim.

Source: GST token chart
Source: GMT token chart

Some community members attribute the tokens’ dramatic declines to the STEPN app being banned in China. 

“Since China banned the game, it has been a massacre, and prices have dropped significantly, so much that for the small runners/walkers, it hardly pays off to go for a walk.” A STEPN user and close contact of BSC News said. “The price of Solana and GST have dropped, and the shoes have gotten very cheap (taking a significant loss on my shoes).”

At the peak of STEPN's popularity, users could earn hundreds of dollars by jogging around the neighborhood in Solo Mode. It was possible to earn NFT daily rewards of 3-4 $GST at the max price of $9.36, even with a basic Sneaker. Currently, the same walk, which would have earned users up to $40 in April, only yields about $0.82.

Previously, with Solana NFTs costing around $600, getting a positive ROI took approximately 16 days. But currently, it costs about $69.88 to buy the cheapest Sneaker as of July 14. At the current price point, it would take investors about 145 days to break even with a return of $0.70 per day. As a result, bearish sentiments are running among some of the community members.

“Some are still playing the game... I mean, it's still a month plus to the ban.. if I were in China, I would comfortably play the game and wait till the 10th of July to dump my sneakers and leave.” One of the community members in STEPN Discord said.

A Positive Boost

Although crypto market conditions declined in the past couple of months, STEPN's second-quarter profits were $122.5 million, the company stated in a Medium post.

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The M2E protocol plans to leverage 5% of its profits to initiate a buyback-and-burn program for its GMT tokens. However, to prevent sudden price volatility, the buyback-and-burn process "may take a few weeks to complete."

Furthermore, the developers stated that STEPN would allocate capital reserves to improve existing features and build out the team in addition to the buyback-and-burn program. Despite the protocol's challenges, many people remain optimistic.

“If the STEPN team finalizes their product and starts a big marketing campaign, things still could go up again. The earning money part for going on a walk or a run is appealing to many people, they are just not aware yet, or are not comfortable with using a crypto wallet yet,” a STEPN member close to BSC News said. “For STEPN to succeed, I think they will need to do a big marketing campaign targeted at people with no experience in the crypto space, and I think they should offer a custodial wallet for people that don't know about private keys and so.” 

STEPN reported that the company had identified several areas for investing its earned capital so that gameplay could be improved. Among them are security enhancements, anti-cheating mechanisms to prevent bots from earning GMT, building the developer and core team, and securing sponsorships and partnerships.

“I invested a lot. I'm not worried about returns now as I'm focused long term. Right now, I am increasing my holdings on both chains, increasing my main shoes, and getting ready for the 3rd realm,” a community member stated.

Following successes on the SOL Realm and BNB Realm, STEPN intends to introduce the APE Realm on Ethereum.

The STEPN team describes this Realm as "a great experiment to embrace fashion and other NFT communities.”

The APE Realm will provide access to an innovative new Realm for all STEPN users, focusing on accessibility and bringing in new users. 

Source: STEPN Roadmap

Parting Thoughts

Due to the downturn in the industry, as well as Chinese data laws prohibiting the storage of GPS data of citizens, STEPN had to block Chinese users. Additionally, STEPN's platform has been subject to a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks since its launch, causing users to be warned that "workouts may not be recorded properly" during maintenance periods.

However, crypto markets could see move-to-earn become a booming sector if STEPN overcomes these obstacles. In addition, if its economic incentives motivate a few people to get off their couches and get moving, that's a good thing.

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The STEPN community is incredibly active on social media, with more than 640,000 followers on Twitter alone. Many users create high liquidity in the NFT market, making leveled-up Sneakers much easier to sell. Last but not least, the upcoming renting upgrade and Ape Realm on Ethereum should increase the user base, increasing the value of all tokens.

What is STEPN:

STEPN is a Web3 application combining GameFi and SocialFi elements that allows users to Move & Earn (move and earn). Users will earn in-game tokens by walking, jogging, or running outdoors. STEPN operates under the mechanism of 2 tokens, GST and GMT (governance token, limited supply).

Where to find StepN:

Website | Twitter | Discord | Whitepaper

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