If You Expect Splinterlands To Go Higher This Year... Don't Count On It

in #hive5 months ago (edited)

If You Expect Splinterlands To Go Higher This Year... Don't Count On It

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I have decided to use my blog on Steemit to post my thoughts on Splinterlands. I don't expect anything from it, either through interactions, votes, or positive action from the developers @yabapmatt or @aggroed. But I will make the points and let them be visible for all to see.

I believe that we are in for a rough year for Splinterlands based on the factors listed below. The developers have created an interesting and fun game to play, but have failed to deliver in other aspects. Namely, they have let 2 groups influence their mindset at the expense of the economics for both big and small alike. The first group is what I term "the insiders", those are the people that suck up and heap praise and tell the developers what they want to hear. The second group is what I term "the programmers", those are the people that automate the bots that leech the reward pool.

Both the insiders and the programmers are overall destructive to the game, and this has been the case since the beginning. The game has succeeded despite these negative factors due to some brilliant game making by the developers, along with a few great ideas and features added as well. But make no mistake, the developers haven't learned their lessons, as these 2 groups are as powerful as they always have been.

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The Economics Are Dying Quickly

Due to the way the game is played (ie...revealing the mana and ruleset before the individual's team is chosen), the bot makers will always be the most efficient in extracting the rewards (be it in tourneys or quests). The reason is there is a "best lineup" based on the mana/ruleset for each match and the bots can be setup to choose it automatically. As the bot makers have figured out, they can invest very little money and extract outsized returns by choosing a small group of cards and then playing 1000s of games automatically. Thus the reward pool is skewed heavily to the bot makers in both the tourneys and the quests.

How do I know? Because for a long time I have bought the cheap cards those bots sell. Rarely do I buy from the individuals that play the game, but instead from a handful of the same names that each season sells thousands of reward cards for next to nothing. When I finally do find an individual that is selling, 90% of the time it is because that person is quitting the game, and lately I have seen a lot of that too (that's a whole other article I could write as this trend is growing quickly).

The situation is well known by the developers but they have chosen to not prioritize this problem over others. As a result, while they may get around to putting in some bandaids to limit the damage, the fact that they don't see it as a huge problem that has encouraged people to leave will mean the economics will get worse not better.

If the developers truly understood that some great people and supporters of the game have left in disgust, then it would've been fixed by now. But it hasn't. The value of DEC trades between 1/3 and 1/2 of the intended level, and the inflation rate simply continues as each day the bot armies play 1000s of matches, get their rewards/DEC, and dump into a shrinking buyer's pool.

So even if we get a small patch, the damage is done. Many human players have left and the bots will still be here.

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New Blood Is Scarce

Any economic system will have booms and busts. Its the nature of markets. While attrition is to be expected as people do leave for various reasons, the good businesses always grow the user base by getting new customers. Splinterlands has not made this a top priority, and will suffer the consequences for the next 6+ months.

All recent new initiatives have failed miserably. The mobile app is not good. The referral program was a dud. Whoever is in charge of the marketing should be fired, as they have let down the whole organization. While the game itself is great, there aren't enough new real people playing it to grow (ie the new people aren't making up for the old people leaving).

While the developers look to metrics like the Kickstarter successes to signal strength, what they are missing is the KS's are harvesting the past successes, not a determinant of the future. Unfortunately, due to the lack of new blood, I believe that the next KS will result in a "down round". While this won't be good in the short term for the value of Splinterlands, it will hopefully lead to some positive changes in attitudes by the developers and put the focus on getting more new players again.

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Politics Of HIVE Vs Steem Will Hurt Them

While the developers have said they are neutral in the fierce political battle of HIVE vs Steem, they also have made statements publicly indicating they will probably be moving to HIVE:

"Running our own infrastructure is a critical prerequisite to a potential full transition to Hive in the future, as well as a way to help support the growth of the Hive blockchain in which we are heavily invested."

This statement alone is enough to let me know that 2020 will be a very slow year for Splinterlands.

Why? Simple...

While I don't personally care about either blockchain versus the other, I believe they will alienate a large group of people by "picking a side". Alienating a large group of players will mean more cards sold, less cards bought, and more players gone.

Once more, betting the whole business by making a move to a chain that is so new and controversial is a bad business decision. It is all risk with no reward. There is nothing wrong with running on Steem, so to make a change is purely driven on emotion and not on the consideration of all the stakeholders. While those destructive "insiders" will praise them initially and tell them "great job" "go HIVE" etc... the business people that look through that BS and realize that the developers are not serious about running a business. That will harm "investment" in the game as investors will lose faith that their interests are protected.

So bottom line, I think the developers will make the move to HIVE and I do think it will be a major blow to both the user base and the investor base that will take many months to recover (if at all).

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For these 3 reasons I see the year ahead as lower as these are very big negative forces to overcome. I think the asynchronous tourneys and the land expansion will be a flop as a result. The developers have done a lot of things right over the past 2 years to get the game where it is today, but they have also done a lot of things wrong of the past 2 years to get the game where it is today too.

If they want to look at the successes and pat themselves on the back, they deserve it.

If they want to look at the failures realistically and use them to improve the company, then the trajectory could change back to positive.

But if they look at the successes and ignore their failures as they appear to be doing, then I'm afraid we are in for a tough year.

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I left when all the GOD mode bots came out of the wood work, and it became clear to me that the company did not give a whit about the non GOD Mode players. They can compare the Bots to regular RPC style game NPC all they want but they are not NPC style characters, they are characters that are there only to disrupt normal play.

I am sad to say you might've been right about the bots @bashadow. I had hoped they would do something at least to keep the humans happy, but we appear to be down the chain of priority.

They could change their minds. They are getting an eyeful of what happens when bots rule, people were able to almost over come the Bots on Steem, now I guess they are coming back in droves. It will be interesting to see the results of the Split/Schism of the steem chain in six months.

Great analysis. Resteemed, and if you allow me I will write a Korean version of this.

Glad you think so @glory7. You are certainly welcome to use anything I write anytime for free! If you think it can help, that is all I need to know. :)

I figured this was what was happening so I sold all my cards again. I was fed up at the higher levels so I sold everything and started over again from scratch. That was fun for a while too and between buying packs and winning cards I was able to build up quite a good set that would get me to gold by the season end but it just wasn't any fun because of the bots. Sadly, friends were using bots too because they would beat me and I would call them an asshole or something and they would have no clue what I was talking about. Didn't even know we had played. If you are a human, you would see that you were playing your friend, right?

Anyhow, I even got my wife into it and bought her a starter set and $20 worth of packs but that died when she started seeing the bots too. She hasn't even opened her game in months. I will probably sell her cards too as she said she won't play it again.

Now I will play just enough to get to bronze and get my 5 loot chests per season and hope for some good cards to sell and buy WLS with. I was going to invest in Hive but I don't see anything changing there yet and until I do I will not be putting any more energy there than I do here.

All problems are legit that you mentioned. To not fix the level 1 bot problem is flat out killing the game, and to me (being a non-programmer) I am puzzled to why something has not been developed to offset this. It's different if the bots are all maxed out, which is not so bad because at least the bot owners have to invest and consolidate some cards, but not at all at level 1. Best of luck take it easy wild man.

Hey bud. Yeah, but it's pretty easy to invest when you are pulling in exponentially more cards than a human player. even if you are only getting 100 two cent cards a day it's enough to buy the cards you need where I get my 22 cards a season and am lucky to get one or two worth a quarter. Not that I was complaining because I was having fun and earning enough to keep upgrading my deck but when you are constantly getting beat down and have to play 20 games to win your daily five, it gets depressing and not fun.

Hey @profanereviews... I hope you and your wife are doing well with all this mess going around with the
virus.

Thank you for your personal story, I hope the developers read it because I've heard that kind of story a lot over time (especially lately)... its a shame too because the game is designed really well from an actual one-on-one standpoint and it should be something that is fun for all to play. It might take them awhile to figure it out though, I just hope its not too late to bring people like you back.

Stay safe and thanks for stopping by!

ps... on the Hive/steem wars I think they are going to find out many of us have lost interest all together.

Yeah, we're doing okay here, Dave. Apparently there are people in our little town that have it but that's all we know. We still go out for walks and stuff but there are limitations in public spaces like the post office, grocery store, etc...

As you know I gave up on Steemit over a year ago. I still pop in once in a while to see how folks are doing and all that but I have no hope to ever own enough to even give out a penny upvote to people. We may not have many users at Whaleshares but it is quite easy to give out $.20-$.30 a day on not too big of an investment. It at least feels how Steemit was explained to me when I started. The only difference is that I would probably have to spend $5000 to do that here.

I hope things are going well for you and yours. I guess it's probably pretty crazy back east these days.

Nice to hear and we're doing fine here too!

And nice to hear Whaleshares is doing well for you, I'm glad they survived this mess!!!

Haha, we're always on the edge, probably but there's a good core of people that are pretty active and the chain is working great so here's hoping!

I agree completely with most of what you state.

Bots are a real problem. Botnets of 20, 50 or even more accounts are raping the reward pools. They play Gold level tourneys with level 1 cards, and still - in spite of the recent changes - manage to make it to the prize rounds by being matched with each other, while real players are facing other real players with a decent deck in the early rounds.

I get that bots have a purpose. The player base is so small, we need bots to make sure players can find a matching opponent. That was already a discussion more than a year ago. What I don't get it why the devs don't create their own bots for that purpose. Bots that don't earn DEC or reward cards.

I just hope the new DEC floor will at least improve things a bit.

One thing, though:

There is nothing wrong with running on Steem

Here, my opinion is different. I just got kicked out of a tourney because I went straight from the 'seeking enemy' timer ro 'you fled the battlefield'. When I'm trying to open packs, I get one error after another. Blocks are being rejected, nodes are unstable. I know how to switch nodes, but we can't expect a newcomer knows how to do that.

I'm not a fan of moving to Hive - there won't be enough new players to make up for the old players that will leave, but something needs to be done. That's the 5th tourney in a week I get kicked out because the Steem blockchain isn't working properly. I've really had it!

I want them to take action and move away from Steem. Unfortunately, I think Hive is the only alternative if we want transactions to be fast and free. If there is another blockchain that can provide those, i'd much rather see them move to that one. All I know is that Steem isn't an option at the moment.

On the bots, I have given a suggestion that they license them. If they did that, then they could at least control the payouts, the amounts of games played, make sure they play against humans, keep them in the proper leagues, etc... They could even encourage great bot makers by making good prizes and even special "bot only" cards that would be cool to play against. Unfortunately, they don't seek information from outside their inner circle and since I'm not in it, this won't go anywhere.

On the game moving to HIVE and away from Steem, I hear your points and agree that its a pain in the ass right now. Something in my gut tells me that HIVE might not even exist a year from now, so I still think its a super risky move for SPL to make. In my opinion, it would be better for them to do their own hardfork of steem and run the nodes of that chain themselves. At least until such time as they know they aren't jumping from the frying pan to the fire. That's my 2cents, but I know I'm in the minority on it. Your thoughts and suggestions are definitely more in line with what advice they are getting from the crowd, and frankly I think that's going to happen. We are going to move to HIVE.

I don't like it, but I will stick with the game. Despite the problems and the mistakes, I still think they have a true chance at being a great game. I just think it will be a setback, but heck we've been there before too ;) ... :)

Thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts @simplymike! As always I value your thoughts and insight :D

@davemccoy the issues @simplymike is having with tournaments could be resolved by splinterlands running their own rpc node and not letting anyone else connect to it(minimize cost of bandwidth). RPC nodes have been problems on the steem style chains since I showed up in 2018 and I am surprised no one made it mandatory for a witness to run one in order to get a reward.

lol... thanks PK!

will if ppl sell cheap very cheap you can dm me i buying every card. and i bot and i run bot serviec. and some my use got deck over 45k usd card. me i got over 25k and we kep our card. can tell you hight lvl bot we are ppl who kep the price no we are buying when ppl selling.
and i belive in this game, i have try this bearmarket be4 when i was in crytopia exchange we are only 50 user, and we was sad. but boom in now time btc go up and our exchange grow from 50 to over 1 mio use in 3 week. so i belive this is what happen right now for btc world is down.

Thanks for the comment @vcdragon... and I agree that buying cheap is the way to play this. While we might have a different outlook for the short term (next 6 to 10 months), we definitely agree in the longer term potential. I will continue to buy the cheap cards, but I will just lower my buy prices as the whole system gets devalued by the inflation created.

yes i will pay was the dec 1000 for 1 usd if card cost more dec to buy i will likely not buy it

All very legit points. I am not too concerned with the bots though as the team is working hard to counter them. But I feel such efforts and time are wasted where they could use for marketing and bring in new blood. Lack of growth of userbase is the number 1 problem with Splinterlands. After 2 years since Alpha, how many legit players do we have? This game is just like Steem. Great product, first mover advantage, but failed terribly at marketing.

Untamed packs are flying off the shelf but bought by the same group of players. Most of these cards end up on the market at lower and lower prices. No new players.

And now with the Hive/Steem thingy, more time and resources from the team are wasted there. I just can't see how Splinterlands can go 'higher' this year. But I hope I am wrong.

Yes I've heard they are working on the bot issues, but hopefully they get on it. It doesn't seem they have the urgency they should imo, because this is a big negative.

I fully agree with you though on the lack of growth of the userbase, it is by far the number 1 issue. They don't seem to focus on it because they feel the game is successful (and in some ways it is, just not enough for long term success). I have met many people that try it and leave rather quickly, they should focus on what it feels like to be a new PERSON entering the game and see what those users experience. If they looked through that lens, they could learn something. They have the feeling of the top players nailed, but they forget to focus on what a new person thinks. I mean, this isn't that hard, do a focus group, listen to the feedback without getting your feelings hurt, and figure it out.

And yes much like Steem... sadly.

Untamed packs are flying off the shelf, but the cards will get discounted as those "rippers" unload. I'm not complaining about it, its the nature of markets, but how low does it have to go before the developers do something? If $0.70 isn't low enough per pack, would they do something if packs go to $0.10?

Completely agree that the move to Hive will be a HUGE waste of time and energy that could be used for something productive. (like addressing the issues that people are discussing here)

Thanks for the comment @jrvacation!

Me again. I just wanted to say that I have been selling my wife's cards for a few days now and most people are buying them with DEC. I have just been buying new packs with the DEC because of the price and in three days have noticed the card prices dropping quite a bit. Some went from $.50 to $.33 in two days. When I went to look at the for sale cards I saw hundreds of cards all from the same 4-5 accounts and assume those are the bots. That's insane. That's a seriously broken system when I can put a card for sale at the lowest price and come back to see 15 new listings by the same account at just below my listing. When I scroll through, it's depressing.

I think not changing between steem and Hive makes sense. My main "income" from splinterland is the upvotes I'm getting from the curation challenge. The fact they are active of both channel double this incomes.

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