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$CROWN Race Allocation Updates

Hey everyone! 

I wanted to check in quickly on some key economic details—both challenges and opportunities—as well as the various short-term and long-term irons in the fire. 

Some of our planned solutions have come directly from community suggestions, while others come from options at our disposal, thanks to the immense utility that $CROWN provides within the racing ecosystem's structure. 

Parked vs Racing

The metrics I tend to pay a ton of attention to are racefill rates and “parked” horses. A parked horse is a horse that “should” be registered for a race but hasn't in at least 24/48 hours. Why? Because it's one of the lowest-hanging fruit to help increase race entry fees and, therefore, improve the entire ecosystem.

There's something rotten in Denmark if tons of horses aren't racing, but the good news is that it's what we can typically move nimbly on the most quickly. 

In season 15, we have seen greater than 50% of horses parked, which is upwards of 8,000 total (FWIW, 2,000 are in the hands of 8 stables). This is up pretty bigly over the last two seasons. Why? Lots of reasons, of course….CROWN, schedule, breeding…this is a complex game! But keeping horses on the track is a pretty straightforward high priority. 

In the past few seasons, our race schedule has also expanded in response to the exponential growth of the horse population. However, this rapid growth has introduced some challenges, particularly concerning the allocation of $CROWN and the balance of race types.

That said, let's discuss some planned adjustments that we believe will better use $CROWN and simultaneously activate the ‘parked' horse population. 

the vision

The Long-Term Vision: Play to Win, Not Just Play to Earn

Our long-term vision for Photo Finish™ LIVE has always been centered on a play-to-win model rather than a play-to-earn approach. What does that mean?

Specifically, it means we don't want to make a game where people grind 100 races a day for pennies.

We want people to play like they play online poker and DraftKings. You play Photo Finish™ LIVE to be entertained and to make your daily life more fun.

If you also want to play to make money, then by all means, let's get after it.  

While $CROWN was introduced as an initial catalyst to kickstart the in-game economy and reward early adopters and supporters, we all know it's not sustainable just to constantly reward every single horse with the token. 

As the game evolves, the amount of $CROWN emitted each season decreases, even as the horse population and the number of races continue to grow. The balance of the ecosystem can lean in uncomfortable directions if people stop racing. So we all want $CROWN to reward players but know we've got to make it count. 

Planning for growth with $CROWN Allocation

As the game and horse population grows, the $CROWN budget is not large enough to improve economics for all races. 

Therefore, we want to allocate $CROWN to the “best” races to make them the most economically attractive, drive player behavior, and incentivize people to create the “best” horses.

This is good for the overall economy. 

Just as in real life, the higher-tier races are the most profitable.

Crown Logo Twinkling

Strategic Reallocation of $CROWN

To better reflect the value generated by each race type, we are experimenting with reallocating $CROWN to the higher-tier races and even special events.

This doesn't mean only giving $CROWN to people paying the highest entry fees; it means incentivizing breeding great horses. 

This also means lowering the amount of $CROWN for Allowances, Claiming, Maidens, and Handicaps. By taking this approach, we can provide users with MORE races and more coverage. We can add more race inventory without exhausting the $CROWN budget. 

Your knee jerk reaction to that may be one of anger (and you might have already jumped to a discussion channel to doom post). But if you stayed to read – wait, there's more! Keeping the same ROI / profitability balance here is done by reducing the rake on many of these races as low as 5%. 

This adds an extra layer of strategy to your stable management as you can hunt for more profitable race types with smaller rakes and get more of your stable active! 

With lower-tier races having less $CROWN allocated, we can expand the schedule in essence infinitely more than when constrained to maintaining an “equal” $CROWN distribution percentage across all races. 

We feel that this approach will help alleviate many user concerns about wanting more of specific race types.

Could it mean fewer entry fees to track owners? Possibly, though, given our goal of bringing at least 20% of the horses back on the track, we assume we can more than makeup for the rake reduction. But this will obviously be something to keep an eye on!

By providing more value to higher-tier races, we aim to increase participation and encourage more competition at higher levels while offering more options for users at lower price points. 

Along with the above, benchmark entry fee pricing will be adjusted to be below that of grade-restricted stakes. Additionally, the Major Race undercards will be revamped, and their prize pools will be redistributed, including a new event planned for the first Saturday of each season.

Big Stable Help

When we first laid out all of the UX and design for Photo Finish™ LIVE 2.5 years ago, we clearly didn't plan well enough in advance for stables with 1500+ horses. The small little extra clicks for things like searching, filtering, confirmations, etc all get magnified to the point of major frustration as stables have grown to very large sizes, and it reduces the amount of horses racing in turn. 

This is pretty common in game design, for inventory management we always tend to under plan. 🙁 

Anyway, we have a few things in the hopper for this. Again as mentioned above, just helping the top 10 stables stay fully registered more easily could show a near 10% lift in the total population racing. 

  1. Utilizing private loans as a means of stable management is our first test. Both David and OEB have been helping us with testing this. If we can get large stables (that maybe bred past the amount of racing they can reasonably do) delegating more racing out to a stable manager (anyone from HRM still looking for work?), we can really dramatically increase total racing volume. We still have a few bugs and annoying edge cases with it we are working out but we're excited to roll it out to everyone soon.
  2. The other is a system I'm currently calling “PFL Pro”. This starts as a much more simplified view of your stable of all horses in a spreadsheet view with recommended races and a “Quick Register” button (with the option of having no confirmation dialog to enter). This also links to a new feature where you can set user preferences on your horses like what distances, rain chances, race types, entry fees, etc to filter, and this system will automatically choose chunks of races for you to easily enter as well as search for. Think of it as “find recommended races” on steroids, a massive time saver for large stables. I plan on this being a free-trial for a season but it will be a CROWN-based subscription service (price TBD). You may hate me for that, but we gotta keep that CROWN utility rolling, folks, and time is always money when it comes to monetization design.

In Closing

These are just a few changes we're discussing and working on. Of course, things like “more users,” “better CROWN price,” and “more pick pool volume” are big levers that can also drive great value and behavior!

We're continuously working on things behind the scenes to push these things, whether that be partnerships or referral/affiliate systems, the mobile app, international licensing, etc.

There's a lot going on. We're super busy, as always, and we can't thank you all enough for continuing to be the amazing community that you are!

— Ian Cummings