Trend: Move-to-Earn Apps and Gaming Platforms–That Reward People for Hitting Exercise and Wellness Goals–Are on Fire  

In just the last few months, there has been an explosion of gaming companies rewarding people with cryptocurrency just for moving around–as well as new apps and credit cards that pay you (whether in cash or with discounts off wellness brands) for exercising and other healthy behaviors   

In our 2022 trend, “Wellness Welcomes the Metaverse,” we look at how the coming metaverse will subsume us into evermore addictive digital worlds–but how a more immersive health and wellness will be a real bright spot. Gaming is, of course, a cornerstone of the emerging Web3, and gamification models have recently been shaking up fitness, with so many companies–from Mulu to Play Pulse–using game mechanisms to keep people competing with themselves and others to hit movement goals.  

But what’s extraordinary is that now, it seems every week, we’re reading about a new app or platform that rewards people just to move (whether walking, running, swimming or dancing). It’s called move-to-earn and it’s the fastest-emerging trend in the “wellness metaverse” and in crypto. In the crypto-gaming space, move-to-earn is a spinoff of their core model of play-to-earn, with so many companies (from StepN to Walken) paying you in NFT coins for hitting exercise goals. The first move-to-earn crypto rewards platform Genopets only appeared last October and now we can’t keep track of all the new players! 

But crypto isn’t the only game (or reward) in the on-fire move-to-earn space: a new slew of apps and credit card companies (whether Ness Rewards, Paceline, or the connected bike company, Cardio) have you connect your wearable or workout device to their platform, and then they pay you (whether in cash back or with discounts at health and wellness brands, from healthy food to massages) to hit those daily step counts and other wellness goals. The speed at which the move-to-earn concept is unfolding–and the sudden volume of companies with big valuations that are attracting millions of users a week–is pretty astounding.  

We certainly need solutions that could get millions more people hooked on exercise. The most recent Global Wellness Institute research reveals that only 32% of people globally participate in any form of recreational physical activity, and that number got worse over the pandemic. Numerous studies have shown that giving people financial and tangible rewards for hitting fitness goals really works, when so little else does. A fascinating recent study had top researchers design 52 different motivational programs to get people to work out, and giving people a mere 9-cent reward each time they returned to the gym after a missed workout ranked #1.  

You can be sure that move-to-earn is just the first chapter in a broader be-well-and-earn future: We will likely see apps that will monetize all kinds of healthy actions in daily life: whether eat-healthy-and-earn, meditate-to-earn, spa-to-earn or listen-to-music-and-earn. (Egads, have-sex-and-earn apps are already here.) Wellness has been one expensive pursuit and in the evolving Web3 world, people will increasingly get paid to pursue it.   

Crypto-cize Mania:  

Much has been written about how move-to-earn is now the biggest trend at crypto gaming platforms, with so many companies–from Dotmoovs to Fitcoin to FitFi–paying you NFT tokens for simply engaging in everyday movement, whether walking or running. And so many users report they’re making lots of money when they cash those tokens out.  

Just a few examples:  

StepN is a current powerhouse, paying users in NFTs to walk and run. And while they only launched six months ago, they already have 3 million monthly users, are earning up to a $100 million each month, and have an $860 million market cap (more below).   

Walken, that just raised $4.7 million, gets people walking and running and competing against others with their cute, in-game characters called Cathletes, and rewards them with cryptocurrency.  

The digital fitness company OliveX also rewards players with crypto for moving: users flee marauding pirates and monsters across a dystopian wasteland. The company says they’re now creating a virtual fitness world in the Sandbox which will let players bring their NFT rewards from OliveX games into a wider metaverse platform–a virtual land that will feature wellness companies such as German fitness apparel retailer Gym Aesthetics and boutique fitness brand Trib3. OliveX has explained to Forbes that these gaming and wellness company partnerships are the future: They let OliveX reach fitness enthusiasts and wellness brands reach young gamers. The company is a spinoff of Animoca Brands, the Hong Kong-based gaming and blockchain powerhouse valued at $5.4 billion.  

While people can be forgiven for being skeptical about crypto companies honestly caring about their health and wellbeing, move-to-earn company Sweatcoin says that their very reason to be is to make one billion people more active. Their users now exceed 80 million and can redeem rewards from 600 different partner brands, mostly in lifestyle and wellness. Companies want to be gaming partners and give away their products for free because of the huge online exposure.  

Limoverse wants to be more than just a company that rewards gamers for moving. They’re goal is to create an entire healthcare and wellness “ecosystem” that lets users connect with health and wellness practitioners around the world and also includes personalized health technology like geno-metabolic analysis.  

New move-to-earn apps and credit card companies are rewarding you with far more than crypto-tokens:  

If you’re not someone who will jog for a crypto “gem,” there are a whole new group of apps, platforms and credit card companies that will pay you everything from cash rewards, the ability to enter raffles with big money prizes, and discounts off health and wellness brands, all for hitting fitness goals.  

A few examples:  

With the brand-new Global Fit Club members buy their NFT and earn free access to real gyms and services.  

Optimity’s app lets users earn points by hitting daily step counts or completing health surveys. You can then spend your points on everything from protein coffee to standing desks or make donations to charities.  

South Korea’s Cardio is now launching Metabike, “the world’s first metaverse & gaming integrated home fitness bike” that rewards users with up to $30 a month towards healthcare products and services.  

New credit cards, Ness Rewards, Paceline and Krowdfit all reward you for spending regularly on wellness. But they’re also letting you hook your fitness wearable to their platforms so you get rewarded when you hit movement and wellness goals. For instance, Krowdfit enters users into cash giveaway contests of up to $5000–while Paceline doubles your cashback rewards if you do 150 minutes of movement each week (more from Well+Good below).  

Questions to ask: Move-to-earn platforms are only a few months old, and there is much to work out, and real questions about some of these models. Experts express caution about their financial sustainability: the crypto apps need to attract a constant flood of new users who buy in to replace those who are cashing out rewards (meaning, critics argue, that a kind of pyramid scam model could be at play). The games need to be so engaging that people keep playing without cashing out their coins. And crypto values have of course crashed. As these platforms rush to monetize, will they wantonly monetize all that rich user activity data and violate people’s privacy? If you always pay people for healthy behaviors, will they just stop when you try to wean them off the rewards? Will real health companies get involved in gamifying and rewarding healthy behaviors–such as insurance companies or public health organizations such as the UK’s NHS?  

All important questions. But one thing is sure: the metaverse will transform fitness and fitness will transform the metaverse. Stay tuned… 

This Trendium is based on Wellness Welcomes the Metaverse, trend from the 2022 Global Wellness Trends Report.

Learn more. 

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