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Economy balance update, 28th June 2019

Hutch_TimHutch_Tim Posts: 685 admin

Any economy rebalance will provoke debate. Top Drives is coming up to 2 years old and is doing well; we all want Top Drives to continue to thrive for as long as possible, but not everyone will agree on how exactly the economy should work to help that happen.

We have many different types of players and play-styles to consider, and balancing them will always be hard. Club Events was our first major attempt to tune the economy to work best for the long term. 

While we have access to the data that tells us how the game is working, we recognise it doesn’t tell the whole story, which is why we pay attention to what players tell us about their experience of the game.

At this point we thought it would be helpful to take the unusual step of sharing some of the data with you, so you can better understand how the game is working as a whole, and we can have a more informed discussion.

The TL;DR version:
Average RQ150 players are making more money now than before.
The 1% most active RQ150 players are making a bit more money now than before, but are doing significantly more races to achieve that.
We will continue as planned for now and review again in a week.

First, a recap on recent history:

Clubs to replace Dailies and remove Smarfing
Smarfing: playing terrible cards to sink to the bottom of the leaderboard, so you can get easy 3-star wins. Aka the most efficient way to make money in Top Drives.

As Schmidti said, you could say we kind of created a “farming monster” - there are a lot (not a majority, but a lot) of players smarfing and quite used to it. We always thought it wasn’t ideal that smarfing earned such huge rewards (compared to other things), that you should spend so many tickets  playing in a non-competitive way. TD42792 correctly identified a big part of the issue too: the biggest imbalance that smarfing creates is between smarfers and non-smarfers.

Players have raised the question of how newer players might be able to catch up with older ones. Roughly 50% of high-trophy (6000+) RQ150 players smarf, compared to 25% of low-trophy (<500) RQ150 players. That means a lot of those low-trophy players are being constantly outpaced, and not by a small amount either.

So, we came up with Club Events as an alternative to the highly-smarfable and (based on typical daily feedback) generally-disliked Daily: a way to earn money by winning, in an environment where you had some choice over requirements, and with a more interesting wider strategy element to it. You could make a bit of money by entering and racing in a few events; if you raced in more events, and did more races, you make more money - much more intuitive than the complete switch you have to make to smarf.

So, hopefully farmers would embrace this new way to make their money, and those low-trophy RQ150 players could see a more intuitive way to increase their earnings - do more in Clubs.

Replacing Dailies with Club Events also had the benefit of adding a new game-mode in Top Drives without universally increasing cash and gold in the game - inflation. To get right to the point on that subject - to have Top Drives thrive for a long time, we obviously do need it to continue to make money; it’s easy to imagine that if all sources of in-game gold doubled, the effective value of IAPs for gold would halve. That’s an extreme example, but if every new mode added new sources of income, we would continue to step in that direction, so we do need to be careful about it.

The Response to Clubs
Players told us quite emphatically that the Daily was too important to lose: the ability to play your strongest hands; the cards for upgrades; the instant gratification; the mental effort/earning ratio. Club Events are supposed to be more entertaining than the daily, but many players were feeling it was just more effort for less reward.

Daily but with less farming
We realised we couldn’t improve Club Events as much as needed by tuning the dynamic aspects (rewards, season length etc), or even with a few quick features - but we still wanted to reduce the significance of smarfing. So, we proposed a compromise: return daily events (with a bit more variety in the rotation), add more cars to prize boards but reduce their overall value, and put more cash in end-of-event prizes instead. My post intimating this idea (perhaps with too much subtlety) didn’t go down well (link), but when Robin proposed a more detailed version (link) and clarified it involved the Daily (or something extremely similar) coming back, it was a lot more popular, so we figured we had a good solution.

The Response to 'less farming'

Now PL9 is here and we have been starting to find out how the rebalance feels and plays out in practice. Although Club event cash hasn’t been reduced yet, and Challenge cash will increase from this weekend, we can still take an early view.

In terms of community response, as we would expect, people who smarfed the most are the most affected, and the least happy with the changes. Some of the people who didn’t smarf do seem to like the increased cash prizes for events. It’s definitely been a more mixed response than just removing the Daily.

In terms of the data on what people are actually achieving under the new system, it’s hard to be certain of things as both the new cars and the auto-hand-forget bug are likely to alter people’s behaviour. Factoring out the spike in activity around a new launch though, we can now see the following.

We considered players of all types, but the most interesting here are probably RQ150 players, with low vs. high trophies, and average players of each type vs. the top 1% most active. Since Clubs have been out for 37 days, we looked across the time period from 37 days before Clubs through to 37 days after, and identified the 1% most active players across that whole period.

If we compare how things are now (with the rebalanced prizes and Clubs, after the PL9 activity spike) vs. how they were before Clubs was introduced, we see the following:

  • Average RQ 150 player: They are playing 9% more matches (Daily events, non-daily events and Club events) and making 7% more cash.
  • RQ150 with < 500 trophies: 7% fewer matches, 4% more cash
  • RQ150 with 6k+ trophies: 23% more matches, 15% more cash
  • 1% most active RQ150: 44% more matches (from 72/day to 103/day), 9% more cash
  • 1% most active RQ150 <500 trophies: 60% more matches (from 68/day to 108/day), 17% more cash

So what does this tell us?

  • Average earnings are up.
  • The most active players are also making more cash.
  • But - the most active players are getting significantly less cash-per-race...
  • ... and lower trophy players are actually doing fewer races, which is probably not ideal.

So what next?
This analysis is only a snapshot - just as important is how things change over time. It’s also important to consider how the game feels to play, as that can help us predict how it will change - if the average player is making more money, but is less happy, they are less likely to stick around. The data doesn’t tell us how people feel, so of course we will continue to listen to your feedback and ideas.

For now we will continue with the plan, adjusting Club prizes and Challenge prizes, and continue to observe the data and collect feedback. We’ll do another update like this in a week.



  • Blue2moroBlue2moro Posts: 2,207 ✭✭✭✭✭
    someone explain to me what I'm doing wrong if everyone is apparently earning more cash than ever because I sure as hell am not.
    I'm definitely earning less, but I'm also playing ~98% less, so there's that.
  • AndreasSimmerAndreasSimmer Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Why does my comment needs approval? Is the word crisis blacklisted lol?
  • TopDivesTopDives Posts: 756 ✭✭✭✭
    I ask a sample of three children* who was the best dad in the world, and all three said that I was. On that basis, if I extrapolate, approximately 2 billion children think that I’m the best dad in the world. Stats are awesome. 

    * Those three children may or may not have been my own children. 

    Nah, you can't do that. Your outcome was an assumption and not base on the sample size, the 2 billion children has nothing to do with the data collection. Unless that was your point that is what Hutch is doing?

    There are so many variables that you have to consider when you are doing statistics. There are so many assumptions made here for that outlier sample size that probably does not define the rest of the player base. 
    Look at the 1% demographics for example. If 90% of those are in the US or Asia your data is skewed, ending times affect things, F2P vs P2W, age etc. 

    Send me the data Hutch.

  • NumarNumar Posts: 1,732 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Why my post has been removed !?!?
  • AndreasSimmerAndreasSimmer Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Numar said:
    Why my post has been removed !?!?
    This is normal on the ingame forum, that negative posts get removed. Looks like the censor reaches us here too, one of my comments wasnt approved at all.
  • Blue2moroBlue2moro Posts: 2,207 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I find it kind of ironic that negative posts are being removed/not approved when feature changes and amendments that negatively affect so many players are being approved for release.
  • Hutch_TimHutch_Tim Posts: 685 admin
    The sample sizes are sufficiently large, and knowing how much some of you smarfed, at least a few of you are in that the top 1% - but it's true the 1% might be too extreme. I'll check larger groups (top 10%, top 11%-20% maybe?) and specifically the oldest players next. 

    Also as I said, statistics are ever the whole story. Even if earnings remained similar but felt worse, that's not a great sign. 
  • James_PearceJames_Pearce Posts: 1,365 ✭✭✭✭✭
    TopDives said:

    Unless that was your point that is what Hutch is doing?
  • AndreasSimmerAndreasSimmer Posts: 1,926 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wrote a long text, but it reloaded to a complain post.
    Im tired and buffled that Hutch doesnt seem to (wanna) understand or see the problems at all. They seem to rely too much on their numbers.
    Also interpreting silence as a good sign is funny. Its silent because disappointment about a lot of things is huge.
    For me the game is in a crisis, and we can only hope for a fast turnaround.
  • Hutch_TimHutch_Tim Posts: 685 admin
    Also, posts aren't being deleted, but I see a few of you aren't on the 'white list' yet and are triggering the twitchy spam filter! Sorry about that. I'm white-listing you now, although that will cause a bit of thread necromancy in the process as your posts come back...

    RobGripes said:

    The <500 RQ150 group should be relatively small. Without having gone the multiplayer aspect for very long, this group don't have much experience to compare the previous situation vs now. They also have rapidly improving garages at the beginning and so their daily income will improve each week, without playing more. Late-game players garages rarely improve. 

    Just to inform on this bit - there are actually more RQ150 players with trophies <500 than with trophies >6000!

    Im tired and buffled that Hutch doesnt seem to (wanna) understand or see the problems at all. They seem to rely too much on their numbers.
    As I keep saying, we know numbers don't tell the whole story, it's always a balance. In fact that's very specifically what helped bring back the daily - incomes were similar without the daily and with Club Events instead, but it obviously felt radically different to just about everyone, so we could see it would have to change.
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