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Crown Weekly: Richie Talks Race Schedule

As we do every season, we cornered Third Time Games Product Manager and race schedule czar Richie Choi into a corner and demanded answers to the most frequently asked community questions.

Just kidding — Richie reminded us he had plenty to share as we head into Season 17, and Community Manager Bryce was more than happy to ensure we hit on some of the most significant changes heading your way as of this morning.

In this week's Crown Weekly let's hand the keys over to Richie for some insight into the race schedule, and what to expect in Season 17.

Race Schedule Coverage

Since Season 16 began, we've been accumulating feedback, requests, and data that will help us shape this coming week's schedule. As always, one of our primary focuses has been refining the race schedule to accommodate player preferences better and improve overall engagement.

Here are some key updates we've made heading into Season 17:

Improved Weather Coverage: Weather distribution by distance and preference should now be more evenly distributed throughout the season.
Expanded Race Options: You asked, and we listed: We're adding back popular race types across various levels and preferences, including Maidens, Non-Winners 1, and Non-Winners 2 to races for 3+.
Age Restrictions: As part of the racing revamp, we've implemented age restrictions on benchmark races for 3-5-year-olds and 6+-year-olds. We've also had age restrictions on the Last 5 Benchmark.
Reductions and Balancing: Adjustments have been made to benchmark race structures and claim race frequencies to optimize race fill rates and gameplay balance. We will closely monitor these win rates to test and improve the lbs per benchmark score [tweaks/balancing].

Maiden & Graded Stakes Coverage

Our commitment to enhancing coverage for Maidens and Graded Stakes races continues, albeit with a strategic approach to maintain sustainable participation levels:

  • Race Trimming: In response to high cancellation rates, we've streamlined the schedule to focus on essential races, enhancing fill rates and overall player satisfaction. We'll monitor what is popular and what isn't and adjust as needed.
  • Less is More: Season 17 begins with 50% fewer claiming races for juveniles – since most were canceling.
  • Balanced Claimer Pricing: We've redistributed claiming prices to reduce the number of higher claimers in favor of concentration on mid to lower-priced claimers
  • Balancing Horse Picks: Following experiments with horse pick juice, adjustments have been made to ensure a sustainable horse pick environment that aligns with market trends and player feedback. Less juice in Season 16 and the fluctuation of CROWN led to a small dip in horse picks, but we have a solid plan to up those numbers in the coming weeks.

Seasons 15 and 16 Benchmark/Benchmark Allowance Races

Want some cold-hard data? We've got that in the form of Benchmark win/entry races from the past two seasons.

Take a look at the two charts below. The first shows rates for Benchmark Restricted Stakes races where the columns are aggregating for BM distance from the max BM allowed. So, ">10 BM" means more than 10 BM units below the max. The second is for Benchmark Allowances, where the columns like "-1" are showing horses that entered at 1 below the maximum BM allowed.

Looking Ahead

Our goal remains clear as we navigate these racing ecosystem adjustments: to foster a thriving racing community while maintaining a balanced and enjoyable gameplay experience.

Your feedback and participation are invaluable as we refine and innovate within Photo Finish™ LIVE. We won't always get it right or perfect, but with your help, we'll keep at it until we do. 

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