STEPN, one of the first in a rise of Play-to-Earn games called “Move-to-Earn”, has announced that the iOS version of the app now accepts Apple Pay to buy the game’s NFTS — a first for blockchain games.
Move-to-Earn has been an interesting dimension of blockchain gaming. Fitness tracking wearables captured more demographics than anyone thought possible and you will see people of all ages and descriptions citing how many steps they’ve done each day. This is a real positive use of tech given one of the chief blights of the modern human is a sedentary lifestyle.
Since its rise in popularity with Fitbits, Apple Watches, and simply phone apps, there hasn’t been all that much innovation on the model (although you could argue Pokémon GO counts). Move-to-Earn set about changing that with a way of playing a game, earning a token or NFTs, and generally gamifying the act of “getting your steps in”. We had writer Ibrahim Taofik discuss the trend this time last year.
The two variants that stood out were STEPN and Genopets (which I wrote an article on in February 2022) and now STEPN has taken a large step of its own.
STEPN Integrates Apple Pay
Apple has been a mighty gatekeeper in the adoption of blockchain and NFTs in apps. They began by blanket blocking all apps that use NFTs — they even blocked our app for displaying NFTs! — but have gradually loosened the reins. Now, in a first, they have allowed STEPN to be the first blockchain game to integrate Apple Pay.
STEPN has NFT trainers/sneakers that can be bought and sold. They have different stats, appearances, and purposes, but they are central to the game. You could buy them in-app, but this is where Apple becomes financially invasive, charging the “Apple Tax” of 30% on all purchases. That will, of course, apply here, but it’s still quite the feat that STEPN managed to convince Apple to allow their Pay system to be used for NFTs.
STEPN Integrates Apple Pay 🍎
We are thrilled to announce that #STEPN is the first blockchain gaming app to secure a landmark integration with Apple Pay, breaking down the barrier to entry for Web3 💫
How it works ⤵️ [1/6] pic.twitter.com/wCeVzjLoHE
— STEPN | Public Beta Phase VI (@Stepnofficial) May 22, 2023
This is a significant moment largely due to Apple’s gradual rowing back on NFTs and blockchain. Their uniform anti-NFT policy has been eroded and now, it seems, the allure of 30% is too much. Nevertheless, I hope Apple doesn’t freely allow all blockchain games and NFT projects to integrate Apple Pay — that would likely have the opposite effect to furthering mainstream adoption!
As for STEPN, good luck to them. It’s no secret that the decline in playerbase has been substantial from the all-time highs of this time last year when they have over 700,000 monthly users. Now, it’s down to a little over 30,000 according to this source, but that isn’t necessarily indicative of STEPN’s failure as much as it is a sign of the wintery times in Web3. Whatever the case, this is big news for both STEPN and mobile blockchain games!