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Roadmap 2021, Part 2: Economy

2021-03-19 10:35:00

In yesterday's editorial, we talked about the year so far and the features planned for the coming season. Please check it out here. For the rest of the year, a key theme will be the economy. We will work toward a more dynamic, self-balancing economy, geared at giving users more interesting choices at every step of their journey inside Hattrick.

As we mentioned in the previous editorial, we started a broad review of the in-game economy in the autumn. This started after we announced changes to the pricing of “Future Coaches," which we ended up canceling.

The problem we wanted to address was that many users were investing in players that had little use on the field, but who had the profile to be converted to coaches in the future. Since these players were not expected to drop in value, despite growing older and receiving no training, they became a way of holding cash for the future outside the Board Reserves system.

Our proposal to solve the hoarding of “Future Coaches” - to make them more expensive to convert, and thus essentially kill the market for them overnight - was too heavy-handed, and we backed away from it. Additionally, the proposed solution didn’t solve the real problem, as other types of players could be used in similar ways. The problem needed redefining.

Board Reserves were created to act as a buffer, making sure rich teams would not be able to spend all their cash in one go, dramatically boosting their competitive edge in the middle of a season, for example. We still think this idea makes sense. However, the fact that users are prepared to risk their money on speculative player purchases to “store” money there rather than in Board Reserves means the system as it is now is probably too restrictive.

Instead, we will aim for a situation where the Board Reserves will still absorb excess cash generated by the club, but in which we also open up new ways to access that cash in a controlled manner.

The first step will be a new mechanism in which the Board may keep a share of the revenue from the selling of players which have not been used very frequently on the pitch. Instead of just targeting "Future coaches," any player could come into question, as long as they have been on the squad for a long time without playing matches.

For each player on your team, you will be able to see the percentage of cash you get to keep if you sell him, and how much would go to Board Reserves. Players that play frequently won’t be affected by this change. In their cases, if they are sold, all proceeds will be kept in cash, just as it is today. Recently purchased players, or recently promoted youth players, also fall into this category.

It's only when a player has sat unused on the squad for a long time that the Board draws the conclusion that they have been surplus to the team's needs, and thus won't need to be replaced. In this scenario, temporary injuries (e.g., +1, +2, etc.) will not count as "unused" time. However, players with infinite injuries will be perceived as unused, and the Board will keep some portion of proceeds from such sales.

Here are some examples of how this could work:

1) If you buy a player and then sell him right away, having played only a single match, you will keep 100% of the cash (after agent fees), with nothing going to the Board Reserves.

2) If a player in your squad has played less than 60 minutes in any match, for four weeks in a row, and is then sold, 24% of the revenue will be moved to the Board Reserves and the rest kept as cash.

3) A player that is considered a regular is left on the bench by the manager. For every two weeks that they are unused (not playing at least 60 minutes), they will need three weeks playing at least 60 minutes in a league or cup match to get back to the point where the manager can keep 100% of the cash from a sale. If the player instead only plays friendlies, it will take six weeks to restore their status as a regular.

This way, the percentage of sales kept as cash can change from week to week. The Board will keep nothing when a regular player is sold, but can keep up to 100% when a player that has been unused for over a season is sold.

This new system will take effect the season that starts in August 2021.

It’s important to remember that when the Board keeps the money, it is not lost. Money kept by the Board is still accessible to the manager, and access will be changing in the future. Beyond accessing cash directly through the Financial Director, there will be new functionality allowing you to interact with the Board, and even build a relationship with the Board over time. If you have a healthy relationship with the Board and deliver on your goals as a manager, the Board will also be more cooperative with money.

All of this ties in with our wider goals for the economy. We've had inflation in Hattrick for a long time, and the underlying trend is that there is still too much cash generated in the game. The surpluses of cash lead to money hoarding, when teams look for ways to safeguard cash they simply don’t know how to invest in their teams. Most income in Hattrick is fixed, while costs (mainly salaries) are influenced by managerial decisions. This means there are few mechanisms in Hattrick to self-adjust the economy, the way real world economies can.

The goal of Hattrick is not to be the most realistic simulation of economy, though, it is to be a fun game for as many people as possible. The real issue we see with the economy is that it has rendered many of the in-game managerial choices uninteresting or automatic, and the amounts of cash rich teams have has made it hard for new managers to succeed. We want to very slowly and very carefully nudge the economy toward a higher degree of dynamism, where things such as costs and perhaps even revenues react to what is going on in the economy. It will be more self-balancing and avoid extreme situations like what has forced users to hoard money. It will also aim to slowly erode the big advantages rich, old teams have, and better reward up-and-coming teams. The Board Reserves will be one of the instruments for this, but there will be others.

This will not be a revolution. If you are the owner of an old, rich team, there will still be plenty of advantages for you - but we may move some of them a little further out of reach. When you lose focus on your team, it may slip behind a little - but when you come back to give it more focus again, you can regain lost ground. Another way of looking at it is that having an edge in near time will be harder to retain, while a long term edge will still be quite hard to lose. What we hope to see is more movement in the system, both up and down in the divisions.

The new direction for the economy will affect many parts of the game and you will start noticing some of the changes toward the end of the year. When the time comes, we will of course reveal more of the economic plans. You can also expect some of these ideas to be presented to you for discussion, either on the forums or in our upcoming user survey, planned for the coming month.

Thanks for listening, and have fun!

The HT Team

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