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Next Season: New fan formulas

2007-12-17 13:32:00

This editorial will preview our new features for next season. We also give you a short update on the Hattrick economy.

Next season: Fan expectations

Fans are an important part of the game today, as they control your team's ticket income. However, we are not satisfied with how the current fan formulas work, and this is something we will change at the start of next season.

The main problem with fans is that they have no memory - they react solely on a game to game basis. This can have strange and rather drastic effects. For example, if you just got promoted your fans will still expect you to win as often as in the lower division, despite harder opposition. And if you do manage to win a few games at the new level, fans will quickly get their mood up and start expecting great things every week. When that big loss eventually comes, the fans will overreact to it, not remembering how heroic your start of the season has been. Such fan reactions can have dire consequences for team economy.

Instead, we want fans to remember the context of each game better and react accordingly. Giving fans a memory will also create a natural incentive for teams to improve their teams over time. Fans will reward a team that gets promoted or does well in the Cup.

The main new concept in the new system will be fan expectations. At the start of every season, fans will tell you what they expect of the team. This will be along the lines of "We expect a struggle to stay in this division", or "We expect an easy promotion".

The expectations for the new season depend mostly on what happened last season, what fans expected then and what the outcome was.

A team that just got promoted will get a soft start in the new division, since fans haven't yet raised their expectations to include wins on the new level. Whether your team is advancing or dropping in the league system, fans will slowly get used to each new situation. But if you are staying put in the same division year after year, fans will have a tendency to hope for just a little more. They will be harder to please if you win the league every year but are never promoted.

The season expectations will in turn influence the expectations for each game. Are you meeting your main rivals for the league title? Or is the upcoming game a certain loss against the league leaders?

On the new fans page, you will be able to see what our fans expect from each game. League position and season expectation of both teams will be taken into account. Fans can expect you to win, lose or play a close game - they can even expect a win or loss to by a certain margin.

Matching fan expectations will be important, as it will keep fan mood and ticket sales up. At the start of the season, fans base their expectations for each game on the hopes they have for the overall season. As the season progresses, the actual league position becomes more important for fan reactions. That is, if you are doing a bad season, fans will get used to it and moderate their expectations on the team. Not only league position but also points taken will matter here. Fans will not make much difference between a 2nd and a 5th league position, if all teams in between have the same amount of points.

Now, not only the results on the pitch decide what the fans think of you. Who likes a team that doesn't give everything they have? The accountant may not care, but a real fan does.

Your fans will care about team attitude. If you tell the players to "Play it cool" or play the "Match of the Season", it will influence the fans reaction to the match result. Ordering "Play it Cool" will increase the negative effects of losing, and decrease the positive effects of winning. Using "Match of the Season" will make fans appreciate wins more, and react less negative to a loss. In both cases, the effect is very limited if the outcome was close to what the fans expected. If the result differs a lot from the expectation, the effect is either emphasized or removed altogether. If you "Play it cool" in a game that fans expect you to win, and you end up losing, fans will lose faith in you. In other words, fan mood will fall.

Fans will also be influenced by the cash reserves of your team, basically demanding a balance between success today and success in the future.

The fans of a rich team will be a bit harder to please. They will react stronger to a loss and weaker to a win than the fans of a poor club would. The more money your team holds, the higher significance these feelings will have.

This mechanism is important for two reasons. One, it gives us a tool to softly regulate the maximum amount of cash in the game - much like an interest rate gives us influence on the minimum amount of cash in the game. Secondly, it makes some extreme tactics less beneficial, such as keeping a team in a low division only to save up money, buy a great team overnight, and winning the Cup out of nowhere.

We don't intend to "kill" teams that carry a lot of cash, not at all. Rather give them the option of either using that cash to succeed, or to live with slightly lower fan mood until they decide to use their cash. Also, this effect will be very gradual and not noticeable at all to most teams in the game.

We are also changing the crowd formula. In rainy and cloudy weather, much more tickets will be sold under roof, at the expense of tickets without roof. Fewer tickets will still be sold, but the higher on average income per ticket will counter some of the negative effects of rainy and cloudy weather we have today. This may be coupled by a ticket price change for certain ticket categories.

Finally, the calculation of home and opponent attendance will be separated. Each crowd will have its own behaviour. The attendance of each team's fans will be important, since we will create a new link between home team advantage and the actual amount of fans from each team in the arena.

We will make it possible for home team managers to decide how many tickets he will make available to the visiting team. This will basically give managers the choice to either maximize income or to maximize the home team advantage. In certain games, such as qualifiers, it may be required to give the visiting fans a larger share of tickets.

Sending tickets to the opponent may boost your ticket sales, but it will affect your home team advantage. If you send no tickets away, you will probably end up with a lower attendance than you have today. The default option will be to satisfy any need of the visiting team (normally a lot lower than that of the home fans) and to sell rest to the home fans.

The fan expectations feature will be launched at the start of next season, which starts in March. While we expect this to be fairly advanced in terms of logic and formulas behind the scenes, it will be easy to use for managers. Fans will tell you what they want, and it is up to you to change your behaviour to please them or not. If you keep running your team as you always have, fans will still behave in a rational fashion.

Economy Update

There has been a lot of talk about the Hattrick economy this year, and in a few weeks we will run an editorial that summarizes what have happened so far and what we will be doing in the future.

The very short story is that in the beginning of this year Hattrick was in a state of chronic economic stagnation. We broke this negative cycle by lowering costs and increasing ticket revenue. These drastic measures had the expected results, transfer prices stopped falling and started climbing again - and quite quickly so.

It is now one season later, and time to start cooling down the party. We will do this in steps. In the New Year, we will publish a full editorial about the Hattrick economy and how we consider it when we develop the game.

We also want to make clear that our long term goal is a Hattrick economy that is able to function well, and is rather predictable, without any direct interventions at all from the developers. This is a perspective we consider in all the development work we do, but to get there will take time.

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