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Denmark, 28 April 2020 — Bright Star Studios, a game developer focused on next-gen social Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs), today announced a US$700K pre-seed investment led by Play Ventures, with participation from Galaxy Interactive via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund. The studio will use the investment to expand the team and accelerate the launch of its first game. Allan Kirkeby, former Unity Studios CEO, has already come on board as Senior Producer.
Bright Star Studios focuses on creating trailblazing free-to-play MMO experiences with player-centric economies that tackle long-standing issues within the genre.
“We’ve really thought about the player experience at every step. MMORPGs have traditionally been slow to get into, but our zero-friction play means you jump straight into action without lengthy downloads and installs. Our business model is also free of loot boxes and pay-to-win practices, which creates a fair and competitive environment for our players,” said Bright Star CEO Mark Laursen.
The team consists of experienced entrepreneurs with a combined 70+ years of experience in game development, developer software tools, and competitive esports. The studio also has a unique approach to in-game items. The team is building player-centric economies, where players can securely trade in-game items with one another on legitimised marketplaces, instead of on third-party grey markets.
“We’ve all experienced the billion-dollar insecure grey markets for in-game items where people get scammed every day. It only makes sense to us that when we reward players with digital collectible cosmetics for participating in end-game content, they should truly own those items. They should be free to trade them inside our games or on third-party marketplaces,” adds Laursen.
Bright Star Studio’s US$700K seed investment round was led by Play Ventures, a leading early-stage gaming-focused fund, with participation from Galaxy Interactive via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund.
“As investors and gamers, we’re 100% aligned with Bright Star Studio’s vision of accessible, player-driven MMORPG experiences with open game economies. We believe increased player-ownership of game worlds allow for deep and engaging gameplay, and are confident that this is the right team to deliver this new experience to players,” says Anton Backman, Venture Partner at Play Ventures.
“We often look for game developers that are on to something in terms of moving a particular genre forward,” said Sam Englebardt, Head of Galaxy Interactive. “Bright Star is doing that for the MMORPG sector and we’re really excited to see how ‘Ember Sword’ changes the MMO experience.”
The studio has already lined up Allan Kirkeby, former CEO of Unity Studios and Senior Business Advisor at Game Hub Denmark, to come on board. Kirkeby brings 26 years of game development and leadership experience from his time at the award-winning interactive 3D development company started by the founders of Unity® Technologies, among other gaming companies. He will be leading game production and operations at Bright Star.
Kirkeby says, “I’m excited to join Bright Star to work on the ambitious Ember Sword project. Combining the classic and proven MMO formula while empowering players to own and trade in-game cosmetic collectibles will create entirely new item ecosystems and strong community structures that the gaming world has never seen”.
Bright Star Studio’s first game ‘Ember Sword’ is a cross-platform free-to-play, open-world, fantasy MMORPG.
Click here to watch Ember Sword’s latest trailer
The game promises a vast sandbox-like experience with complete player autonomy so that players are not forced to pick specific classes and roles, a world that the community controls and evolves over time through land ownership, and a free-market approach for in-game cosmetic items.
‘Ember Sword’ is now open for pre-registrations and players interested in early access to the game should pre-register here. The game is on track for a global release in 2022.
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.
Players can create a character, pick a home region, and venture into the dangerous world with your weapon of choice to prove your worth in action-packed classless combat. Defeat monsters, bosses, and other players, explore the world as a peaceful forager of goods and rares, or make a name for yourself as a talented refiner and craftsman of weapons and armor. The game is expected to launch in late 2022.
About Bright Star Studios
Bright Star Studios is an independent developer and publisher of trailblazing, engaging, social MMORPGs for the modern era. The studio is currently working on its flagship title; the free-to-play MMORPG Ember Sword. The Bright Star Studios team has previously worked on AAA and indie games such as Guild Wars, Aquanox, Kaos Wars, Blitzkrieg, Tank Wars, and more.
Bright Star Studios also counts Jens Hilgers, founder and former CEO of ESL, Andreas Thorstensson, co-founder of Popdog and SK-gaming, and Robert Jønsson as advisors.
About Play Ventures
Play Ventures is the leading early stage gaming venture capital firm with offices in Singapore and Helsinki, Finland. Founded by gaming industry veterans Henric Suuronen and Harri Manninen, who have made successful exits to King and Disney respectively, Play Ventures invests globally in pre-seed and seed stage gaming startups and focuses on free-to-play mobile and PC opportunities as well as gaming services startups.
For more information, please visit www.playventures.vc.
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ESL Founder and ex-CEO, Jens Hilgers, joins So Couch Studios as a strategic advisor to strengthen upcoming PC/Browser MMORPG Ember Sword’s competitive Esports potential.
Malta, July 23rd 2019 – So Couch Studios today announced an expansion of its team to include Esports veteran Jens Hilgers, opening up about its plans for redefining MMORPG Esports, alongside revealing a new teaser for its upcoming Free-to-Play MMORPG, Ember Sword.
Bursting into the Esports scene in the late 1990s as Founding CEO of ESL, the world’s largest Esports company, and later founding Esports investment platform ‘BITKRAFT’, Jens is joining So Couch Studios as an advisor to fuel the company’s vision for a competitive MMORPG experience and Ember Sword Esports scene.
View the new Ember Sword Character Teaser here:
“We’re thrilled to have Jens Hilgers embark on our journey of pioneering a new type of competitive MMORPG experience for the next generation of players. Jens is an Esports godfather and a gaming pioneer with paramount insight into the competitive nature of games, and his knowledge and experience will end up greatly benefiting players of Ember Sword.”, said Mark Laursen, CEO and Founder at So Couch Studios.
Through on-going PvP and PvE events built directly into the game’s core, any fearless Ember Sword player will be able to compete to acquire new limited-supply collectible cosmetic items every month. The cosmetics players win through these events can be worn in-game or sold to other players for the game’s premium currency, which can also either be used or sold.
Combined with skill-based gameplay without predatory Pay-to-Win systems and “surprise mechanics”, the company believes this will foster a new genre of small-scale Esports that is accessible for everyone.
“Ember Sword captures that magic blend of PvP-focussed RPG combat and a true persistent open world served in a format that is easily accessible across multiple platforms. A hard design and technology-challenge that I firmly believe the team is able to deliver on. Excited to contribute my esports experience!”, said Jens Hilgers.
Ember Sword Key Features:
Thrilling Classless Combat: Switch between weapons and abilities at any time as you slay epic monsters and fearless players in the fluid and fast-paced combat, unlocking powerful new abilities the more you use each weapon type.
Epic Open-World Adventures: The world of Ember Sword is open and persistent, filled with adventures for you and all your friends from around the globe to experience together.
Collectible Cosmetics: Avatars, skins, and emotes are all scarce limited-supply cosmetics earned through end-game PvP and PvE. Each has a unique history and is tradeable.
Play With ALL Your Friends: Play instantly through your browser or the official desktop client without worrying about hours of downloading and patching.
Copenhagen, Denmark – 11. October 2018 – So Couch Studios today revealed their upcoming free to play cross-platform sandbox Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG), Ember Sword. Promising to re-define the MMORPG genres negative pay-to-win reputation by removing the traditional cash shop, Ember Sword let’s players own, control, and evolve the fantasy universe as landowners and acquire scarce cosmetics through PVP and PVE activities as opposed to through lootboxes.
View the Ember Sword Announcement Teaser Trailer here:
“As avid MMORPG players, we grew tired of static “theme-park” universes where we can engage with everything in the world, but never truly change or evolve it, much less own it and the items we’ve gathered within it.”, So Couch Studios founder Mark Phillipe Laursen says, explaining why his team is developing Ember Sword, before he continues:
“Most free-to-play MMORPGs monetize through pay-to-win mechanics and non-transferable cosmetics in an attempt to increase revenue by locking down the cash shop economy. With Ember Sword, we’re putting players in charge of evolving the world and its economy instead, because to us, creating an engaging and fair universe is much more important than heavily monetizing players – opting instead for an optional monthly subscription and marketplace fees”.
Drawing inspiration from classics like Ultima Online and Runescape, Ember Sword’s classless combat system, open-world PVP, and player-driven economy, promises an engaging and persistent universe where the idea of a player-controlled world is taken one step by letting players own an actual parcel of land in-game, much like Second Life.
“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 factions will evolve, which areas will become popular, and how people will build them and evolve them. It’s fascinating to think about.”, So Couch Studios CMO Sune Blindkilde Thorsen said.
Ember Sword Key Features:
Cross-Platform: Accessible in a browser or through a desktop client at release, a mobile version is planned for later release.
Artist Workshop: Release your creativity by designing models, skins, and emotes, the best of which will appear in-game.
True Ownership and Control: With players evolving the world every day and truly owning their own cosmetic items, Ember Sword is run by the players.
Whether you’re a peaceful forager of goods and rares making a name for yourself or a fierce warrior of no alignment, there is a place for you in Ember Sword – a place where peace and war is chosen by the players themselves. A place built by you!