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Why We Are Building Ember Sword

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MMORPGs will thrive when players have freedom, ownership, and control! This is the genesis story of why we’re building Ember Sword.


We’re building Ember Sword because we believe blockchain is changing the games industry for good, allowing us to put an end to lootboxes and pay-to-win monetization.

We believe in empowering artists to monetize their work, we believe in true ownership over digital items, and we believe in a persistent decentralized digital universe built by the players, with ultimate freedom and no borders.

And above all, we know that a great MMORPG starts with an excited community finally in control!

Ember Sword Genesis Story Part 1: Ownership and Item Trading

Note: The story featured in this section happened to one of our founders. This is his recollection, told from his perspective

The first time I got scammed in an MMORPG was in 2007 when I attempted to buy a cosmetic avatar from another player. The price was low, suspiciously low, but it was late at night and I had been looking for that exact item for some time.

I ask about the low price. The seller tells me he received the item for free from a friend who no longer plays and that he is simply looking to make a quick profit before quitting the game too. I believed him.

The seller is adamant that I send the money before receiving the avatar. Something doesn’t feel right, but I really want the avatar and I’ve spent considerable time talking to the seller already. So I make the transfer, and *poof*! Just like that, the seller logs off — never to be seen again.

I lost $35 that night and never told anyone because of how foolish I felt!

Wouldn’t it be great if the seller had truly owned the avatar he was trying to sell so that I had been able to buy the cosmetic through an in-game marketplace that was secure for both parties, allowed the seller to transfer the currency received outside of the game, and yet didn’t enable pay-to-win?

That’s why we’re building Ember Sword.

As Ali Yaha, Partner at a16z explained on Twitter:

“Decentralized cryptonetworks reduce the amount of trust needed for collaboration to happen. They are therefore most useful wherever the need for trust is the bottleneck to scale.”

With $50 billion spent every year on buying and trading digital virtual goods in games, it’s safe to say that I was not alone in wanting to buy cosmetic items from other players, and the seller was not alone in wanting to earn a profit either, as “real life trading” of in-game items have a very long — and unfortunate — history in the games industry.

In fact, because players don’t truly own their in-game items, most games ban the trading of virtual goods outside the game. Instead of stopping players from trading, however, this leads to the creation of huge black markets that are far from ideal as they are plagued by fraud and scamming.

In Ember Sword, each scarce cosmetic in-game item is tokenized as non-fungible tokens and truly owned by the players, with each token stored in a blockchain wallet created when players register a game account.

This means players are free to transfer, trade, and sell their cosmetics to and from each other either through our safe in-game Marketplace, or outside of the game, without having to worry about being scammed.

With this, we aim to create a safe marketplace of virtual goods in Ember Sword that embraces trading of cosmetic items instead of banning it, and transparency about the scarcity and rarity of each item.


Putting an end to Pay-to-win monetization and lootboxes

When given a better alternative, we don’t believe players will prefer pay-to-win monetization and lootboxes in free to play MMORPGs, and Ember Sword provides a great alternative to these predatory monetization mechanisms.

In fact, since cosmetics are found through PVP and PVE objectives in Ember Sword, rather than sold through a premium store owned by the game developers, the value created through the player-demand for cosmetics goes to the players instead of the game developers.

Players reap the rewards from trading cosmetics, and artists can monetize through the Artist Workshop.

In turn, Bright Star Studios monetizes through a small transaction fee on the in-game marketplace, and a 100% optional monthly subscription that will unlock convenience features in-game while preventing giving any unfair advantage over other players. No pay-to-win.

This is how gamers have always wanted games to be monetized, but prior to the blockchain, it was close to impossible for game developers to create a safe and fair environment for these types of player-to-player transactions without putting the players or fairness of the game at risk.

And last but not least, there are no DLCs or Supply drops, as artists and builders will perpetually evolve the game into something bigger and better, and you won’t have to pay to participate

Ember Sword Genesis Story Part 2: Control and Decentralized Game Design

Ember Sword is a living, breathing world where landowners build, mold, and evolve the universe and where players are free to do whatever they want whenever they want. But why is that important?

At Bright Star Studios, we’re gamers at heart, and right from the early days of MMORPGs, we’ve all been captivated by the vast universes these games provided us.

For us and the hundreds of millions of players who spend thousands of hours leveling their characters and skills, completing quests, and growing their influence in the game world and economy, playing an MMORPG is more than just a leisure activity — it’s a lifestyle where you’re part of something bigger than the game itself — you’re part of a community.

Currently, however, these digital universes are fully controlled by centralized groups of developers, who retain ownership over every part of the game world and all digital items in the game, while generating substantial revenue from the communities of gamers who make the games popular.

While benefiting the game developer, this old system doesn’t create an engaging player-controlled universe, and it enables the game developers to reap all the profits of any in-game markets where cosmetics are sold to the players.

It leaves gamers as passive consumers of a ‘theme-park experience’ rather than active participants in control of the worlds they help populate. As explained by Reddit-user TheLuckyCrab:

“Theme park contrasts sandbox. It has negative connotations because many games take that design philosophy to the extreme and forego player freedom entirely in favor of consumable content.”

We believe in a different future for MMORPGs and their hundreds of millions of players!

Ember Sword isn’t a theme park MMO where you can sit back and observe the same thing over and over. As a sandbox MMO, you may enter an area one day and the next it could be completely different — a world constantly changing and evolving.

In Ember Sword, how the game world will look like at launch, and how it will evolve over the first weeks, months, and subsequent years is all up to the players.

Landowners in Ember Sword decide how to evolve and manage the world.

In fact, that’s part of what excites us the most; to see what the players will do with the world, how they will play, what sort of groups or perhaps factions will evolve, which areas will become popular, and how people will build them and evolve them. It’s both humbling and fascinating to think about.

With Ember Sword, we are creating the MMORPG for the next generation of players. A re-thinking of what an MMORPG is and can be. A game with a large, persistent, universe where the community permanently own and decide the fate of the world and experiences within.

Ultimately, Ember Sword is more than just a game, it’s a community, an economy, a world!

Why We’re Building Ember Sword

With Ember Sword, we’re building the next generation Free to Play MMORPG player experience — a re-thinking of what an MMORPG is and can be.

We want to forge an alternative path for games, moving away from predatory monetization and loot box gambling, towards a future where players have a permanent stake in their game world.

We believe that players should be free to trade their in-game cosmetic items, even on secondary marketplaces, and we believe in game design that creates a fair and thriving no-pay-to-win gameplay environment.

We believe in empowering artists to monetize their work, we believe in true ownership over digital items, and we believe in a persistent digital universe built by the players, with ultimate freedom and no borders.

And above all, we know that a great MMORPG starts with an excited community finally in control! We couldn’t be more excited about the future, and we hope you’ll join us on this journey!

Learn More About Ember Sword

Ember Sword is a free-to-play Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) for browsers and PC with a vast, persistent, fantasy universe owned and developed by its players.

Create a character, pick a home region, and venture into the dangerous world with a bow, staff or sword to prove your worth in the action-packed classless combat system by defeating monsters, bosses, and other players, or explore the world as a peaceful forager of goods and rares making a name for yourself as a talented refiner and craftsman of weapons and armor.

Join us today on discord, where you can talk to developers and other community members!


Why We Are Building Ember Sword was originally published in EmberSword on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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