Avalanche (AVAX 0.76%) may be one of the top 15 cryptos in the world by market capitalization, but it's always lacked a "killer app" that could bring it mainstream appeal. However, that could change this summer. The new Step App, which is being built on top of the Avalanche blockchain and is scheduled to be introduced later this year, has just partnered with legendary Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt. Together, they'll bring a new fitness-related blockchain gaming experience to the world.
The partnership between the world's fastest man and Step App could provide a catalyst for Avalanche by bringing more attention to this blockchain's potential to host gaming, non-fungible token (NFT), and metaverse projects. After all, there are hundreds of games and metaverse projects already within the Avalanche ecosystem, but many of them are not yet well-known to the public. And that's why Usain Bolt is so important -- he's such an iconic figure that he could end up having a halo effect on other Avalanche projects and encourage more developers to build on top of the platform.
Move-to-earn and blockchain gaming
Step App appears to be going after one of the hottest segments in blockchain gaming right now -- so-called move-to-earn. The best-known move-to-earn game is STEPN, which rewards users with crypto for walking, jogging, and running in the real world. STEPN burst onto the scene earlier this year and now has 3 million monthly active users worldwide. Once you buy a pair of digital NFT sneakers via the STEPN app, you can start earning crypto. It's easy to see the allure of such a game: You actually get paid to exercise. (Just imagine if your local gym paid you hard cold cash every time you completed a workout on the treadmill.)
Taking a bigger-picture view, the future success of Step App could speed up the entry of Avalanche into the so-called move-to-earn economy. That's because Step App plans to release an entire software development kit (SDK) that will make it much easier for other developers to create complementary products and services. As envisioned now, the "Step Protocol SDK" will include everything needed to create similar types of move-to-earn experiences, including ways to mint new NFTs and methods to use the geolocation data of a mobile device to calculate crypto rewards.
The halo effect of the world's fastest man
It's important to emphasize that STEPN is built on the Solana (SOL -1.52%) blockchain, while Step App is built on the Avalanche blockchain. The two move-to-earn games appear to be similar, but they are on two entirely different platforms. This has important consequences for the tokens powering these platforms. You will need to buy the native token of Avalanche, AVAX, to play Step App, just as you need to buy SOL, the native token of Solana, to play STEPN. If Usain Bolt persuades people to play Step App instead of STEPN, this will increase the demand for AVAX, likely pushing its price higher.
Moreover, as brand ambassador, Usain Bolt could bring in new partners for Step App, especially consumer-facing brands that will be willing to build on Avalanche as well. Who knows? Maybe he'd be able to convince a premium shoe brand that has sponsored him in the past to create NFT sneakers for the platform; this type of partnership would appear to be a natural fit. With Usain Bolt as a brand ambassador, the path to mainstream acceptance for Step App and Avalanche crypto will be a lot easier.
Waiting for the avalanche
Of course, we need to temper expectations. Step App is still in private beta and it might never overcome the first-mover advantage of STEPN, even with the star power of Usain Bolt. But the involvement of a worldwide sports celebrity certainly hints at the potential of the Avalanche blockchain to attract similar types of gaming and metaverse projects. Avalanche was one of the most surprising success stories of 2021, and the continued rollout of new gaming experiences in 2022 could help AVAX create a snowball of momentum headed into 2023.