Many games have an internal economy. MMORPGs in particular, need to have a balanced economy that cannot be abused by the many players that play such games. Arguably the game with the most advanced internal economy is EVE Online, a space-based MMORPG that’s almost entirely run by the community. Its economics are so advanced that the person managing EVE’s economy has a Ph.D. in economics. On the EVE website, you can also find a ‘monthly economics report’. In typical EVE fashion, these reports are incredibly detailed.
But very few developers have the willingness or the resources to make the internal game economy a defining feature of their game. That’s not to say they wouldn’t want a thriving in-game economy, but it’s simply something that’s very difficult to create, which is why so few games have it. You need to incentivize players to participate, otherwise the economy will wither away or will need to be artificially sustained.
That’s what ionomy intends to help game developers with. Ionomy wants to make it easy for game developers of both indie games and large AAA games to create incentives that reward players for playing their games and participating in their in-game economies. It also wants to make it easy for gamers to store the digital assets they buy in-game, as well as the cryptocurrencies they buy them with.
But how does ionomy do all this? And what games are already using ionomy? Read on to find out…
The ionomy platform, currently on version 3.0, is a one stop shop where gamers can store their digital assets and their cryptocurrencies. They can also trade those cryptocurrencies on a multi-asset exchange, manage the games that are plugged into ionomy, and even host a masternode or buy a fraction of a masternode to become a miner of the ionomy blockchain, something called a sharenode. Creating an account to access this platform is free and easy to do.
- Web Wallets
The platform has web wallets for ION, BTC, LTC, DASH, PIVX, SLV, and MNP. You can send cryptocurrencies and get a QR code for each cryptocurrency. During a live update in January 2019, Chief Strategist Adam Matlack said they’re looking to add ETH to the platform, as well as some of the Ethereum tokens that come with it.
- A Multi-Asset Exchange
Next up is the asset exchange, where you can trade your cryptocurrencies. The exchange is quite limited in that it only allows for trades between BTC and the other altcoins. The trading chart is pulled in from Tradingview.com and you can place a limit order, a market order, and a stop order to trade your cryptocurrencies.
What’s interesting is that you can trade your sharenodes too (more on sharenodes next). While the price doesn’t seem to fluctuate much and it’s hard to say whether this is a very liquid market (which determines how readily you can buy or sell sharenodes), it’s still an interesting concept to sell the percentage stake you own of a masternode.
- Masternodes and Sharenodes
A masternode is similar to a full node in that it keeps a full copy of the blockchain in real-time and is always up and running. But they’re also different from a full node in that they have other functions as well, from allowing people to perform instant transactions to participating in governance and voting.
On the ionomy platform, you can create a masternode for ION, PIVX, SLX, MNP, WGR, and soon DASH. Hosting such a node on-site requires you to have a certain amount of the respective cryptocurrency in your wallet. Hosting an ION masternode requires 20,000 ION, which comes down to an investment of $2,800 with the price of ION today. Additionally, there’s a monthly cost of $19.99.
You can also decide to host the masternode remotely, which gives you more control but requires a bit more technical expertise (in the sense that you’ll need to make sure your node is always up and running). In this scenario, you don’t need to have a certain amount of cryptocurrency ready and only need to pay the monthly cost of $19.99.
If you don’t want to host a masternode, but still want some of the mining rewards that come with hosting a node, you can buy a percentage of a masternode; a sharenode. You can buy sharenodes of ION, DASH, and PIX, and payouts happen every day at noon, 1 PM, and 2 PM respectively. Of course, the larger your share, the larger the payout.
The games tab shows the games available on the ionomy platform and gives you the ability to buy the in-game currency, as well as view the leaderboard and prizes associated with obtaining the top positions. Currently, there are two games available on the ionomy platform, both of which are developed by the ionomy team: “The Moon or Bust” and “Offroad Heat”. Both are mobile games available on both iOS and Android. There’s a short review of each game further down.
Whereas the ionomy platform is made for gamers and people looking to trade, PWRGRD is made for game developers. It’s a suite of tools that allow developers to start using blockchain technology in their games. Here’s what each tool allows them to do:
Lightning allows developers to add tournaments with cash prizes and digital goods purchasing to their freemium games. If players purchase digital assets of the game with ION on their ionomy.com accounts, they receive a discount and game developers receive more of the full amount. This is possible because Google and Apple charge 30% for in-app purchases, while ionomy charges a much lower fee for purchases through their ionomy platform on the web.
Thunder lets game developers issue custom in-game currency tokens on the ION blockchain. The ionomy platform then allows for gamers to trade and withdraw those currencies. This adds the economic incentive that all blockchain gamers are looking for in their decentralized games.
Jumpstart connects game developers with investors, gamers, and testers. It’s a crowdfunding platform for money and skills, because not every game developer should have every skill required to make a game successful. Jumpstart lets developers pitch an idea, raise funds, and submit early versions for feedback.
Alchemy allows developers to hook up their game to the ionomy 3.0 platform, which comes with the benefits described in the previous section of this article.
Spark lets game developers monetize their freemium games. It’s an ad network that claims to have up to 12x faster BTC payouts than other networks and a higher payout than traditional ad networks. Considering it pays you out in cryptocurrency, you don’t need a bank account and there’s no verification procedure.
Swarm is a service that optimizes low-latency servers so multiplayer gameplay can be synchronized. This would allow more action-oriented games where players coordinate or fight each other in real-time.
As it stands right now, the ionomy team is developing the Lightning API and they’re close to releasing Thunder and Jumpstart. All other tools are still in development.
The ION Cryptocurrency
Ionomy’s cryptocurrency is called ION. There’s a total supply of 55 million ION, but only 10.9 million ION is in free circulation. Of the remaining ION, 40% is held in masternodes, 16% is reserved for game development bounties, 14% for core coin code development bounties, and 3.6% held by ionomy in staking wallets.
ION currently has a market cap of just over $2.6 million and ranks #529 on CoinMarketCap. It’s priced at approximately $0.14 today, with an all-time high of $7.12 at the end of January 2018. The main place to buy ION is through ionomy’s website, although you can also buy ION on Bittrex and Upbit.
Ionomy had somewhat of an unfortunate start launching their cryptocurrency, because of the apparent connections between them and PayCoin and G.A.W Miners , a now-defunct company whose founders defrauded investors and are in now jail. Ionomy cleared up their connection with G.A.W. in this blog post, but it still made people wary the first year of ION’s launch. However, since then, the steady release of features and continued community updates have turned market sentiment around.
The ionomy Blockchain
ION runs on Proof of Stake version 3 (PoS 3), or “static” PoS. This is different from earlier PoS versions, which were designed around coin age and coin weight. Coin age indicates the length of time coin has been held in a wallet. Coin weight is the total amount of coin in a wallet. These two factors would determine the power and subsequent reward of a wallet.
However, this could lead to people depositing large amounts of coin in a wallet, take the wallet offline, hold the coin for a while so it accrues coin age, and then take it online briefly for an immediate reward. These wallets don’t contribute to the integrity of the blockchain network, but still receive a reward.
Static PoS changes this by removing coin age from the equation and replacing it with connectivity age, or how long the wallet has been maintaining active network communications. This rewards miners who help maintain the network instead of simply profiting from it. It’s called static PoS because the mining reward is always the same: 50% of the total block reward.
Games on ionomy
As mentioned above, there are currently two games on the ionomy blockchain, “the Moon or Bust” and “Offroad Heat.” Both games are developed by the ionomy team itself (or at least their gaming team, which is called ionomy Studios). A third game, called Rumble Arena, is due for release in the next few weeks.
Of the two available games, I preferred the Moon or Bust. You navigate a rocket upwards and avoid airplanes coming at you by tilting your phone left or right. The higher you get, the better your score. The best three players on the leaderboard receive $150, $110, and $75, and the leaderboard resets every week. My hi-score was 8,859, a far way off from the 260,000-ish score of the player then ranked #1. There are ads after each game, and you can buy diamonds (the game’s in-game currency) to continue playing if you die.
Offroad Heat is a racing game where you drive a truck around a circuit. You can race against AI, play with friends, or play a ranked game. I found it quite hard to control my truck (probably because I’m a total n00b at race games) and usually ended up losing because I bumped against a rock or a wall.
There’s quite a comprehensive upgrading component to the game, where you can improve parts of your truck, as well as customize it to your personal tastes. Each upgrade requires a certain amount of coin. While you receive a good amount of coins at the beginning of the game, you will eventually run out and have to buy coin in-game or through the ionomy platform.
It’s hard to know what to make of ionomy. On the one hand, the platform is comprehensive and it works well. The games currently available are nicely developed and a good attempt at tying together a game with the ionomy platform and with cryptocurrency in general. Additionally, the team is still hosting live updates on YouTube and is working to expand ionomy both in the United States and abroad (particularly in South Korea).
On the other hand, there seems to be little traction behind ionomy. This could quite reasonably be attributed to the lack of games. The two games available are quite simple and offer limited play value beyond the monetary incentives for the top players. Why should gamers flock to the platform if there are hardly games to play? Ionomy either needs to crank out more games faster, or it needs to start rewarding developers to create games that integrate with their platform. Only then could we see the traction required to create a leading gaming platform that runs on the blockchain.