- STEPN game developers announce that its service will no longer be accessible to China-based players after July 15.
- STEPN advises China-based players to start planning what to do with their STEPN tokens.
An official statement from fast-rising NFT game developer, STEPN, states that the company will no longer allow players from mainland China to access its services. STEPN rewards runners or walkers in the real world with NFTs and STEPN tokens. Users of the play-to-earn game can trade their NFTs or swap their tokens for other digital assets or fiat.
According to the project’s official Twitter account, beginning from July 15, the platform will check and clear out players from Mainland China. Also, it will no longer offer them GPS and IP geolocation services from that date.
— STEPN | Public Beta Phase IV (@Stepnofficial) May 26, 2022
Hence, the company suggests that users from that location should start making plans on what to do with their assets. Interestingly, China’s apex bank says any crypto exchange outside China that provides its services to China residents is committing a criminal offense.
STEPN’s launch and growth
Even though Stepn began operations last December, one of its founders (Yawn Rong) claims that the project’s profit for this past quarter was $20M. Rong made this fact known in an interview last month.
A dune analytics data estimates current STEPN users to be over 580,000, with 39,000 actives in the last 24 hours. After the announcement, the value of Stepn’s native token decreased by 38 percent. There are no valid stats to know the exact number of Stepn players in mainland China.
However, the game has been trending as the top search term on Weibo (China’s most popular social platform). During the interview last month, Rong revealed that Japan and the US represent the game’s largest markets.
Part of the announcement also states that STEPN doesn’t have any download channels for residents in mainland China. It also claims that it doesn’t have any “business operations” in that area. However, a statement by a Stepn representative with the Twitter username, Jason, proves otherwise.
Jason states that some of Stepn’s technical team members live in China. He even added that the nation’s crypto regulations implicate them. Jason made this statement while speaking at a Twitter space meeting hosted by Stepn.
The Stepn representative said, “…urgent tweet and yes, we must follow the regulations. Otherwise, the ecosystem will collapse.” “I feel deeply sorry for all those implicated by this update.”
The fast growth of play to earn games
Many game players globally are shifting their attention to play-to-earn games. For instance, DappRadar data indicate that there have been over 336,000 players on Splinterlands in the last day. The growth of play-to-earn games soared greatly last year following the fast-rising popularity of Axie Infinity.
Axie Infinity players earn the game’s native tokens as a reward for defeating colorful blob-like creatures on the gaming platform. Players can swap their token rewards for other digital assets or fiat. DappRadar data suggests that more than 50 percent of Axie Infinity players are based in the Philippines. However, the majority of the rest are based in developing nations.
The game’s 60,000 active users daily last July remain its highest ever. Recent DappRadar data estimates that the game’s daily active users are now about 9,000. Many argue that play-to-earn games’ business model can’t exist for the long term.
According to the critics, the earnings are the players’ motivation. They aren’t interested in making in-game purchases. Thus, the earnings on such games will depend heavily on new player registrations instead of in-game purchases. Hence, some critics tag Stepn, Axie Infinity, and others as disguised Ponzi schemes.
However, Stepn is taking several steps to ensure it still exists over the long term. One such step is the advert fee it charges for any blockchain company that wants to promote its services to Stepn’s audience.
The Chinese government’s clampdown on crypto activities isn’t new. The clampdown operations, which hit a peak last year, forced nearly all exchanges to leave China.