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Roadmap 2021, part 2: Economy

2021-03-19 10:35:00

In yesterday's editorial, we talked about the year so far and the features planned for the coming season. Please check it out here. For the rest of the year, a key theme will be the economy. We will work toward a more dynamic, self-balancing economy, geared at giving users more interesting choices - at every step of their journey inside Hattrick.

As we mentioned in the previous editorial, we started a broad review of the in-game economy in the autumn. This started after the announced changes to the pricing of “Future Coaches”, which we ended up cancelling in the end.

The problem there was that many users were investing in players that had little use on the field, but who had the profile to be converted to coaches in the future. Since these players were not expected to drop in value at all, despite becoming older and receiving no training, they became a way of holding cash for the future outside the Board Reserves system.

Our proposal to solve hoarding of “Future Coaches” by making them more expensive to convert, thus essentially killing the market for them overnight, was too heavy-handed, and we backed away from it. It didn’t even solve the real problem, as other types of players could be used in a similar way. So we needed to redefine the problem.

Board Reserves were created to act as a buffer, making sure rich teams would not be able to spend all their cash in one go, dramatically boosting their competitive edge in the middle of a league season, for example. We still think this idea makes sense. However, the fact that users are prepared to risk their money on speculative player purchases to “store” money there rather than in Board Reserves means the system as it is now is probably too restrictive.

Instead, we will aim for a situation where the Board Reserves will still absorb excess cash generated by the club, but in which we also open up new ways to access that cash in a controlled manner.

The first step will be a new mechanic, in which the Board may keep a share of the revenue from sale of players which have not been used very frequently on the pitch. Instead of targeting just “Future coaches”, any player could come in question here, as long as they have been on the squad for a long time without getting any matches.

For each player on your team, you will be able to see the percentage of cash you get to keep if you sell him, and how much would go to Board Reserves instead. Players that are played frequently won’t be affected by this change, if sold all the money will be kept in cash, as it is today. Recently purchased players, or recently promoted youth players, are also in this category.

It is only when a player has been on the squad, and unused, for a long time, that the Board draws the conclusion that they have been surplus to requirements, and thus won’t need to be replaced. When it comes to injuries, the Board will not count a temporary injury as “unused” time. However, they will see players with infinite injuries as unused, and will keep money from such sales.

Here are some examples of how this could work:

1) If you buy a player and then sell him right away, having played only a single match, you will keep 100% of the cash (after agent fees), with nothing going to the Board Reserves.

2) If a player in your squad has played less than 60 minutes in any match, for four weeks in a row, and is then sold, 24% of the revenue will be moved to the Board Reserves and the rest kept as cash.

3) A player that is considered a regular is left on the bench by the manager. For every two weeks that he stays unused (not playing at least 60 minutes) he will need three weeks playing at least 60 minutes in a league or cup match to get back to where he started, the point where his manager can keep 100 % of the cash from a sale. If the player instead only plays friendlies, it will take 6 weeks to restore his status as a regular.

This way, the percentage of cash that will be received when a certain player is sold can change from week to week. The Board will keep nothing when a regular player is sold, but can keep up to 100 % when a player that has been unused for over a season is sold.

This new system will take effect the season that starts in August 2021.

It’s important to remember that when the Board keeps the money, it is not being lost. It goes to Board Reserves, from where it will be getting more uses than it has today. Beyond accessing cash directly through the Financial Director, we will be adding new functionality around the Board that allow you to interact with it, and even build your relationship with it over time. If you have a healthy relationship with the Board and deliver on your goals as a manager, the Board will also be more cooperative with money.

This ties in with our measures for the economy in a wider sense. We had inflation in Hattrick for a long time, and the underlying trend is still that too much cash is generated in the game. The large amount of cash leads to situations like the money-hoarding, when teams look for ways to safeguard cash they simply don’t know how to invest in their teams. Most income in Hattrick is fixed, while costs (mainly salaries) are decided by user decisions. This means there are few mechanisms in Hattrick that can help self-adjust the economy, the way real world economies can.

The goal of Hattrick is not to be the most realistic simulation of economy, though, it is to be a fun game for as many as possible. The real issue we see with the economy is that it has rendered many manager choices in the game uninteresting or automatic, and that the amount of cash and rich teams have also made it hard for new users to create a path to success in the game. We want to very slowly and very carefully nudge the economy towards a higher degree of dynamism, where things such as costs and maybe also revenue react to what is going on in the economy. It will be more self-balancing, avoid extreme situations like what has forced users to hoard money. But it will also aim at slowly eroding the big advantages rich, old teams have and instead better reward up-and-coming teams. The Board Reserves will be one of the instruments for this, but there will be others.

This will not be a revolution. If you are the owner of a rich old team, there will still be plenty of advantages for you - but we may move some of them a little further out of reach. When you lose focus on your team, it may slip behind a little - but when you come back to give it more focus again, you can gain back ground again. Another way of seeing this is that having an edge in near time will be harder to retain, while a long term edge will still be quite hard to lose. What we hope to see is more movement in the system, both up and down in the divisions.

The new direction for the economy will affect many parts of the game and you will start noticing some of the changes toward the end of the year.

When the time comes, we will of course reveal more of this - you can also expect some of these ideas to be presented to you for discussion, either on the forums or in our upcoming user survey, planned for the coming month.

Thanks for listening, and have fun!

The HT team

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