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Khosmium

Khosmium tries to change the face of triple-A play-to-earn games

"These games are not pay-to-win, they are hyper pay-to-win". We talk with Alfredo Bárcena about what's wrong with P2E and how Mindiff wants to establish a better model.

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No matter how we look at it, play-to-earn games -and same goes for blockchain technology, crypto-currencies and NFT-based assets- are here to stay. It happened before with free-to-play, DLCs, microtransactions, episodic releases, and even social networks themselves: the basic idea, and/or the tech behind them weren't evil. The implementation, the usage, and above all the way many actors jumped on their teething bandwagon trying to make a quick profit, were the problem, at least until they settled on a fairer model with which users felt comfortable. Likewise, we've seen deceiving misuse of the Web3, the possibilities of the metaverse and what this all implies. We've talked about the prospects and pitfalls of NFTs before at Gamereactor, but in order to shed a bit more light on the whole thing, and to perhaps foresee what may come in the near future in terms of more consolidated P2E games, we talked to Alfredo Bárcena, CMO at Midiff Technology and the mastermind responsible for Khosmium's significant transformation, as the promising MOBA formerly known as The Immortal Mystics embraced the blockchain to become one of the most ambitious play-to-earn projects in 2022, at the same time adding a wider genre scope.

"We are looking into making an evolution of the P2E model", says Bárcena in the Gamereactor interview below. "Over the years a lot of people have made a living out of playing online games. The P2E model has existed for over 20 years. Every player that has played an MMORPG (Ultima Online, WoW, Star Wars Galaxies etc.) has always seen people selling stuff in 'illegal' markets, selling their own crafted items, the in-game currency, making lots of money from that. We knew that with the MOBA portion wasn't enough, that's why we are envisioning an RPG model mixed with a MOBA model. Let's say MOBAs are more like a battleground, but MOBAs are not only like the LoL or Dota type of game. MOBA also means battle royale, having modes like tower defence in RTS fashion, so we have several PvP games in the MOBA portion, but all of it being part of an action-RPG game."

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Might seem like a mumbo jumbo of genres thrown into the mix, but after all one of the premises of a metaverse is that unique properties exist within different spaces where you can use their instances in different ways.

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"This will provide lands, PvE challenges, a very, very complex crafting [system] that will depend a lot on resources", the CMO continues. "There will be tons of resources that will allow players to create lots of different items that will be converted to NFT. These resources will have different qualities. They will be given by some randomness depending on the day of the week, but also depending on how strong the staking of the players is. What we are looking to do is to get all the DeFi part of the game, everything related to having the tokens, holding the tokens, doing yield farming, NFT staking... All will be related to what is happening in the game".

When talking about play-to-earn, and more specifically whether earning means in-game goods or, potentially, real money, there's always going to be a difficult balance in content and communication, as the latter can both be a lure and a very variable value.

"Players will be getting a lot of resources as rewards from that", the CMO explains about playing smart with the tokens. "People will evolve their characters and NFT. NFT will not only be characters, there will also be pets, artefacts, objects. There is a huge plan already for that. This is actually what we are looking into doing. We want people to play, have fun, engage, do crafting, do PvP, PvE... And then, earn by being very good in competitive gaming, really good in crafting, in logistics, in organising their clan or guild so they are actually dominating these lands, crafting and making the best items. With these best items players will be able to be the best in this mode".

And here may lie the key difference between Khosmium, together with other upcoming P2E, and the many attempts that came before them:

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"The 'earn' part of the game will be more important from how good you are in the game and what you are creating and making more than just winning some PvP battles and then getting some in-game tokens as rewards. We don't want to be in that model because we have seen in the last 10 months how this model is failing for several reasons and we don't want to repeat that. So we are providing big quality in the MOBA, RPG part, and RTS modes because we expect people are going to have lots of fun, and because they are having fun they will create this and will engage other players. This is our plan".

One thing about NFT and the uniqueness of the assets linked to them, both in games and art, is how they're created to be so unique, whether it involves hand-craft by artists or perhaps any sort of procedural randomisation.

"The first stage is the current characters", Bárcena underlines as they'll have many more NFT-related elements. "There are more than 20,000 already made, all by hand by artists. They have very specific attributes, each of them. This is the first part. Having said this, I will say that we also have a free-to-play workflow for the players, so not only NFT owners will be able to play, also F2P players will be able to play. They will unfortunately not have unique characters because that's something we can't do. Related to pets and other objects and artefacts, pets are like modifiers for the characters, so they provide some specific attributes that can help you in different challenges in the game. Artefacts work very similar to itemisation, different gear you can have in a RPG. So, if you are more of a tank you should be wearing artefacts that will help you more as a tank, not as a nuker or a healer, that's the main difference. About the creation of the items, we have seen some games over the years that have really complex crafting which is dependent on different resources that have quality. In order to create these artefacts you need these crafting machines that also have to be built. Depending on the quality of the crafting machine you have a different quality of the output of the machine itself; this is what we're working on. We are integrating this part with the DeFi part, with the dapp. Players staking their NFT, staking their tokens, will be receiving quality ingredients that will help them create more artefacts that will help the characters. By nature they won't be a rewarding machine, but a helper for your character to succeed in the challenges of the game, either in PvE, PvP, or even on the social part of the game".

"We want players to play the game, to have fun with very high quality content, very high quality gameplay, and we don't want them to earn by milking the internal token and getting inflation"

At this point into the conversation, it was about time we got deeper into the whole crypto side of Khosmium, which might be the more interesting talk for players who are into P2E already. There are two currencies, $KHOS and $IUM. The latter is the in-game currency and the former is in the blockchain, which is based on Solana.

"There are many reasons for this choice", the man from Mindiff says as to why going Solana other than its eco-friendliness. "One of them is because we have the option to. I think people that had been developing games over the last 10 months, games that launched in August-September last year, they didn't have the option to choose Solana, because it's not only that the blockchain exists, you need a set of tools to develop the dapp, to implement the smart contracts, that wasn't available. Solana itself... Right now people have been doing games mainly on Binance, Ethereum, Polygon, etc. Solana now is the choice because of how it's designed, its speed, the gas fees. Our players are going to be minting NFT by themselves many times during their lifetime in the game, and we need these gas fees to be really low, reliable, and to be fast, so this is why we did it. There are solutions right now for Binance smart chains to do small fees. Still, they're not that small. Paying 20 cents is small if you compare that to other blockchains, but we want to pay near to 0 (like 0.0001 dollars). We don't want players to be spending their money in minting, in fees. We want them to spend their money and their time in the actual producing scenes in the game, not the fees. These are the reasons. There are other that are more for technical experts, but this is how I feel it right now".

Considering that this was first and foremost a AAA game that was meant to be played, that then got a P2E model implemented, with that being a more "in-game P2E" model, focused on gameplay and content, to produce better NFT, etc, what about those players that might be interested in exchanging their currencies? Is there a plan in place for a marketplace, how is it going to work for those who really want to exchange those in-game coins for other blockchain coins?

"Our tokenomic plan, everybody can see it in our white paper", recalls the CMO. "Our plan is that our internal token, the $IUM, is not going to be minted daily as crazy as we've seen in other games. We want this token to be the in-game currency but it has to be difficult to get for the players. This currency is going to be very useful because players will be able to purchase other tokens that will also be resources and ingredients for crafting other stuff. I can't disclose that because it would be too much info (laughs), but it's related to boosters and things that are going to help the players. They are going to be able to swap it in-game in an NPC that will be giving them resources for that, which are going to be other tokens. These tokens won't be listed in decks or swap. At least from our point of view, maybe players will list them later. There will always be a big percentage of the token burned. Anything that is exchanged will be burned, and also they will be burned between players exchanges in game. We want this to be deflationary. We want players to play the game, to have fun with very high quality content, very high quality gameplay, and we don't want them to earn by milking the internal token and getting inflation. We want them to earn by being the best and creating the best items. I think we are reproducing what has been happening in games over the last 20 years. We are going to make players owners of their in-app purchases, owners of what they do, so that means they are going to have full ownership, that means they will be able to extract it to a wallet, to sell it in a marketplace, if it is Solana in any marketplace that will be Solana compatible. Also in an in-game marketplace, there will be lots of options. Making players enjoy a game like we used to do 10 years ago and making money the same way, but in a way that is completely permitted and that will be profitable for them".

On the contrary, what about those that might be frightened or that might not want to jump the bandwagon of NFT and blockchain-based technology? There's been a lot of controversy and uncertainty as of late, there's been heists, there's been security issues. What can Khosmium tell them to be more inviting other than the game being a AAA and potentially fun to play in several genres?

"I would tell them that we gamers... I mean, I work in the industry but I've been a hardcore gamer for many years in many MMORPGs", sends Bárcena as a final message. "I would tell them that for many years we've been looking forward to being the actual owners of our in-app purchases, of our accounts, but we were not. We were not able to sell anything that we've worked really hard for in the game. The first thing I'd tell them: you're going to be the owners so if you work hard in the game and you have an account that's so good because it has very good champions and you get bored of the game and you want to quit the game -because we know people just don't play the same game forever-. People change games every year or every 2 years, they like playing other games. If you do that... if players want that, they'll have it first thing".

But it goes further in terms of what other games have been doing: the pay-to-win factor:

"Second thing, I think NFT games get a lot of hate for a very simple reason: because these games in general are not pay-to-win, they are hyper pay-to-win. Nothing [is] more pay-to-win than these games. And people don't like that, completely understandable. The game is not going to be p2w. If you're a NFT holder, or token holder that means you'll have a lot of things that you can do related to getting some benefits in the game in the form of boosters, ingredients, resources and many other stuff that you can actually make money out of by creating things or just selling the ingredients. But you won't win just because you have a very good NFT, because you have 3 or 4 or 10 times the strength, agility or any other attribute. That won't happen, and we will also have a competitive mode for all this. We want to have a really balanced gameplay, especially in the MOBA part. RPG part might be different because we know RPGs at the end of the day, in general, the objective of the players is always to equip themselves, meaning that they have to have always the best gear possible so that they can face the best challenges in the game, and as the game is being upgraded with new challenges, people need to upgrade their gear to face these challenges and have fun beating the big bosses and the PvE challenges. Well, that's what the gear should be for. Also for PvP, but especially for PvE".

In fact, the whole esports side of Khosmium will also happen within its own ecosystem, including tournament creation for both players and operators, and prizes based on its official token. The full video interview has more on the game's roadmap, shows some of the NFT characters, and presents the official collaboration with DJ Danny Avila as Khosmium's main theme composer.

Will Khosmium end up being a great AAA RPG and a better model for P2E to follow? At the end of the day it will all be about balance and satisfaction, and players will be able to speak up on it with the first alpha, which is around the corner this very summer.

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