Can I Interest You in a Fancy Cape?

If you’ve spent any time playing MMORPGs in the past two decades, you have more than likely experienced firsthand just how much an in-game item can be worth to the right buyer.

Trading of items and in-game resources is at the core of most MMORPGs.

Sometimes, these trades happen in-game for gold, but more often than not, the most valuable items are sold outside of the game itself for USD.

When we started building the core economy design for Ember Sword back in 2018, there was one long-lasting issue MMORPG players always face that we knew we wanted to find a solution for. From Ultima Online to World of Warcraft, Runescape, and all the others, it has always been the case that:

Long-time players always want to safely trade their most valuable items outside of the game.

That might not sound like an issue. But it is.

And for 3 separate, yet interconnected, reasons:

  1. Trading of game items outside the game is almost always against the Terms of Service of the game developer, which forces players to trade on insecure grey/black markets where there is no trusted middle-man to facilitate the trade. This leads to very high rates of scamming.
  2. Those players who are fortunate enough to not get scammed may still get banned if the developer finds that they’ve participated in “real-world” trading of in-game items.
  3. Trading valuable items often ruins the experience for other players, as it creates a Pay-to-Win environment where those with the most money can acquire the best items instantly.

Game Design meets Economy Design

Initially, our proposed solution was three-fold:

  1. Develop a Game Design that ensures that the rarest items in Ember Sword are digitally scarce collectible cosmetic items and land rather than swords, shields, and other in-game items that would make you stronger, and;
  2. Connect each of these cosmetics and land to an “ERC-721” blockchain token, also called an NFT (“Non-Fungible token”), to prove the digital scarcity of the cosmetics, create an irrevocable item history, ensure that all market data is publicly available for the community, and much more, and;
  3. Allow players to trade cosmetics and land both in-game and outside of the game with our “ERC-20” cryptocurrency token ‘PIXEL’ as the medium of exchange.

This use of blockchain tech would make the trades 100% secure and the items being traded wouldn’t impact the fairness of the game since they’d be cosmetic vanity items.

Players who wanted to receive USD for the sale of their cosmetics or parcel of land would then simply be able to sell their PIXEL on third-party exchanges for any other currency, like fiat (USD/EURO) or other cryptocurrencies.

Our philosophy has always been that trading of cosmetics items that make you look cool and allow you to express yourself inside Ember Sword should be allowed even outside of the game, on the premise of it being completely safe and secure for the user.

For a quick refresher, you can read more about our old economic design or more about how our blockchain usage and integration creates awesome advantages for players.

Videogames and ERC-20s

There was just one flaw in the system.

As long as our in-game premium currency, PIXEL, was an ERC-20 cryptocurrency token, we would have to force players through lengthy “Know-Your-Customer” (KYC) and “Anti-Money-Laundering” (AML) tests to prove their identity before they could acquire PIXEL.

Not to mention that players from the United States and a few other countries wouldn’t be able to acquire any PIXEL at all, even if they were committed to going through those cumbersome processes.

These legal requirements would create a horrible onboarding process for new players, but for a long time, everyone expected that things would eventually become easier. Either through legal regulation or technology innovations.

But that hasn’t happened.

We want the user experience of playing Ember Sword to be amazing, and we heard the outcry from our US-based audience too. So we knew what we had to do…

We went back to the drawing board and have come up with a much more suitable economic system for Ember Sword that has even more advantages for the players than the old system — but without the disadvantages.

Introducing the Ember Sword Tokenomics 2.0

In short, the new economic system turns PIXEL into a traditional in-game premium currency, which means it is no longer an ERC-20 cryptocurrency token.

That in itself already removes the need for KYC and AML procedures, which creates a much smoother onboarding process and opens up the game and premium in-game economy to everyone around the world.

We still use blockchain technology to power land ownership and all cosmetics items, which means that each parcel of land and each cosmetic is connected to a unique “ERC-721” token on the blockchain. You might have heard these referred to as “Non-Fungible Tokens”.

This means that cosmetics and land in Ember Sword:

  • Have a guaranteed scarcity, which makes them truly rare. Not even we can create additional copies of the same cosmetic after it has been initially created, so if you have no. 259 out of 500 of a certain cosmetic, you can rest assured that the supply will never increase. And because this is all controlled by a blockchain, all data relating to cosmetics and land is publicly available too.
  • Have a provable and permanent item history, detailing which epic feats a cosmetic item has partaken in. Just imagine owning the cape that looted from the very first slaying of the Gruff world boss and that has previously been owned by the world’s best Ember Sword player! That would make this specific cape uniquely identifiable and truly something special to own and wear as a collectible.
  • Are part of a system with irrefutable Marketplace Transparency. Anyone will be able to see exactly when a cosmetic or parcel of land was last traded and for how much, creating the highest possible level of transparency. All of this data is freely available to the entire community.
Beautiful scenery from one of Ember Sword’s 4 regions: “Solarwood”

Our game design also still allows you to “Play-to-Earn” cosmetics through participation in end-game PvP and PvE objectives, which you can then:

  1. Use (equip) in-game yourself to show-off and express yourself
  2. Sell to other players in-game for PIXEL, which you can subsequently use as you see fit in-game
  3. Sell on third-party marketplaces for any currency supported by the marketplace

Selling on third-party marketplaces is made secure because the marketplaces all use a blockchain as the independent “middle-man” for all transactions. Since you no longer need to trust the buyer/seller directly, this means that getting scammed when selling outside of the game is a thing of the past.

So what’s new?

The major change is that PIXEL itself will no longer be tradeable outside of the game, which also comes with its own set of advantages since it means that:

  • PIXEL no longer has to be the medium of exchange when trading outside of the game. In the old system, this would have been enforced as a requirement.
  • The price of PIXEL won’t fluctuate, which means the purchasing power of e.g. 100 PIXEL will always remain the same. This creates a vastly better experience for the average user. In the old system, 100 PIXEL might be enough to buy the optional monthly subscription today, but might be too little tomorrow if the price of PIXEL-to-USD had decreased.

So not only is this new model just as safe and provides the same awesome benefits for you as a player, but it also removes some of the restrictions of the old system to create a much better experience.

Early combat preview from Ember Sword

What about the Artist Workshop?

Since we started mentioning it over a year ago, the Artist Workshop has gotten lots of positive feedback from artists around the world who loved the idea of being able to monetize their personal creations.

The Artist Workshop works like this:

  1. An artist submits an idea for a cosmetic to the Artist Workshop.
  2. The community votes on the submissions and we select the best top-voted ones, which will then be implemented in-game and distributed through PvP and PvE objectives the following month.
  3. Whenever these cosmetics are traded between players, a small percentage of the purchase price will be transferred to the artist who created the cosmetics.

Under the new system, the Artist Workshop will still work like it always has.

Artists will be rewarded with PIXEL if their cosmetic is traded in-game, and in whatever currency was used if the transaction takes place outside of the game on the third-party secure marketplaces.

Quick FAQ (updated over time)

  1. How do I trade cosmetics in-game?
    You can sell/buy cosmetics to/from other players for PIXEL through our in-game marketplace.
  2. How do I trade cosmetics outside of the game?
    You will be able to safely trade Ember Sword cosmetics on third-party secure marketplaces that we have whitelisted. These include OpenSea and others. The currency for which you can sell your cosmetic depends on the marketplace. Some allow trading for fiat currencies like USD and EURO, some for cryptocurrencies.
  3. What can I do with PIXEL?
    You can spend it on buying cosmetics from other players, on our optional (non-pay-to-win) monthly battle pass-like subscription, or on the few items we sell, such as a non-combat pet, a global chat scroll, and other vanity items (we have a strict no-Pay-to-Win policy).
  4. Can I sell PIXEL to other players?
    Pixel can’t be sold outside of the game, but you can sell any cosmetics and land that you own, both in-game and outside of the game on secure third-party marketplaces.
  5. Can I still “play to earn” cosmetics and PIXEL?
    Absolutely! Since there’s no pay-to-win, Ember Sword is highly competitive. If you’re good at the game, you can win PvP and PvE objectives that will reward you with cosmetics. Each cosmetic is digitally scarce, so when others see you with one of them equipped, they’ll know that you’re the real deal. And if you don’t want it anymore, you can sell it to other players in-game for PIXEL, or outside of the game, as described above.
  6. Will we still do a crowdfunding campaign?
    Yes, and we have some amazing rewards prepared for those who participate, including multiple limited-edition tradeable cosmetics!
  7. What about the LAND auction?
    The land auction will still take place after the crowdfunding campaign and before game-launch. During this auction, you’ll be able to spend fiat, cryptocurrencies, or PIXEL gained from the crowdfunding campaign, on buying a parcel of land.

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 partly owned and developed by its players.

Create a character, pick a home region, and venture into the dangerous world with your weapon of choice 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.

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