'Move to earn' blockchain games thrive in Vietnam

By Khuong Nha   May 23, 2022 | 05:42 pm PT
'Move to earn' blockchain games thrive in Vietnam
Blockchain game players can use free shoes to run. Photo by VnExpress/Khuong Nha.
After the ‘play to earn’ (P2E) trend, more and more ‘move to earn’ (M2E) blockchain video games are being developed in an increasingly health-conscious Vietnamese.

The new trend emerged in mid-2021 after the launch of non-fungible token (NFT)-based online video game Axie Infinity.

An NFT game combines conventional gaming designs with unconventional game mechanisms to let users have more control over in-game assets such as skins, characters, weapons, and virtual lands.

This year many M2E games have hit the market and become popular among blockchain lovers.

Minh Thanh of HCM City said he runs some 40 km a week. When the running app StepN was launched a month ago, he was reluctant to join because players have to pay at least US$1,000 to buy NTFs in the form of sneakers.

He recently signed up with a domestic running app because it allows players to enjoy free trials before official registration.

An M2E app named Calo Metaverse has been downloaded over 50,000 times, with some 7,200 people playing it daily.

Another app called Run Together said it sold out 7,413 ShoeBox NFTs within 30 minutes of launch. After six days it had been downloaded more than 15,000 times with over 3,000 people playing it daily.

Some new M2E projects are about to be launched.

M2E apps developed by Vietnamese focus on more on the community and increasing interactions between players and groups of players.

Phan Tuan, CEO of Calo Metaverse, said: "We have defined Calo as an ecosystem, not an app. After developing its user base via the M2E mechanism, it will center on building a virtual world to connect and practice."

Run Together directs players to running communities in the real world and organizes marathons.

Vietnamese operators of M2E apps center on connection among players instead of merely letting them run to earn money, Le Khai, CMO of Run Together, said.

"In late May, we will ... organize a race in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho."

Some Vietnamese projects also build their own platforms, allowing professional athletes to participate and inspire.

Tuan said: "The career of athletes is usually not long. Therefore, we create an extra playground for celebrities in the sports field to turn items and medals in their competitive career into NFTs to increase incomes and lead the community."

Thanh Binh, the administrator of an M2E running group with more than 7,000 members, said initially most invested in StepN but now more are joining Vietnamese projects.

According to Binh, domestic M2E projects are attractive due to two reasons: They cost less to join and understand local communities, focus on community building and have direct interactions.

"If you play StepN, you have to spend about $1,000 to buy shoes. But with Vietnamese projects, players only need $100 to participate. Many projects offer free NFTs for a long time."

Wu Blockchain, a cryptocurrency analysis site, pointed out that if a blockchain game has too many people making rather than spending money, it would be a pyramid scheme, meaning money collected from old players is being used to pay new ones.

But M2E projects also face challenges such as difficulty in convincing the community they are not scams and the fact that blockchain technology, NFTs and cryptocurrencies are too new for many people.

According to analysts, it is too early to conclude if M2E is just a fad or a new direction after P2E once made Vietnam a bright spot on the world blockchain map.

Many M2E applications are expected to be the next Axie Infinity, but skeptics warn that the M2E ecosystem would remain unstable as long the earnings factor is not balanced with the community’s physical activity goals.

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