Having recently joined steem monsters / splinterlands through the sesameseed promotion funding, I've just started to grasp some of the economies and statistics behind this game. Naturally I've become interested in its growth and scale and therefore all the old articles on stats. With the game celebrating its 1 year anniversary this week, I've been thinking a lot about potential tipping points and future card expansions.
Pulling some of the data I could find, the daily average player count had increased the past few weeks from the 1600s to 1800s with the new DarkEnergyCrystals announcement. Possibly some of these new players came from the Tron / Sesame collaboration; however, most likely this number is not a reflection of unique players but includes many alternate accounts. How many of these accounts are alternates? I'm not sure how that data could be derived except through analysis of IP addresses and card sharing, but let's say 30%? Less, maybe more? Possibly someone has better data than me just guessing?
If assuming 1200 accounts are unique players, what would the game look at say 5,000? Let's look at the expansion and card count.
With 4.5M possible betas prior to combining and burning, there would be roughly 123k of each common, 55k of each rare, 11.6k of each epic, and 2.4k of each legendary. This ignores golds and possibly is missing some variables I am unaware of at this point. In order to max level those cards, each would require 505, 115, 46, and 11 in order of rarity.
Previous to beta card release, 1.5M alpha cards were sold through 300k packs. Not all of these packs have been opened and some of these cards have been burned for DEC. Alphas required less cards than beta to level up with 379, 86, 32 and 8 required for each scarcity.
Reward cards have also increased the total card pool with currently 30 cards distributed at a rate of 11 common, 9 rare, 6 epic, and 4 legendary. This results in 4.4M commons, 900k rares, 240k epics, and 40k legendaries, again ignoring golds. Reward cards also followed the 505, 115, 46, and 11 leveling requirement.
Finally promo cards have seen a recent surge since the kickstarter promos. Though I am uncertain how many kickstarter promo cards were combined or burned, there appear to be less than 5k now in circulation. The sesame seed promotion will add another 410k over 4 unique cards through the first round of funding. Another 590k could be potentially released with a second round of funding, but we wont consider those at this point. Winds of Change offers another 1M total over 13 unique cards, 4 common, 3 rare, 2 epic, and 4 legendary.
Roughly 7.415M cards now are either in the steem monsters universe or will be shortly. This seems like a lot. However, it has already been announced that 61k were burned the first week of the DEC release. While this will slow, card burning will continue to be a part of steem monsters moving forward. A far greater pressure on cards will result from combining to achieve card upgrades. While alphas, betas, and promo cards will vary slightly based on draw rates, max level cards will be very rare. Again excluding golds, most common alphas will be limited to 130 max cards, with possibly less than 240 max rares, 200 epics and 185 legendaries. Betas will be a little more plentiful, but the higher upgrade cost will keep max individual max commons to around 240, rares to 470, epics to 250, and legendaries to 210. Max reward cards will cap out around 800 to 900. Promo cards have yet to be fully released, but it is expected the four sesame cards will have max cap cards ranging from 300 to 900 in supply.
If any of those stats are on the mark, what does all of this possibly mean? Achieving a unique daily player count of 5,000 would probably result in more than 6,500 total active daily accounts when adding in alternates. If each daily player is currently playing roughly 13 daily games, 6500 active daily accounts would be playing nearly 85k games.
As alphas before them, betas packs would either be sold out prior to hitting this threshold or very soon thereafter. Current reward cards would most likely have already been exhausted. Card burning among regular and gold alike would limit the number of max cards. Player count would only increase the scarcity and less than 10% of players would most likely hold a specific max card. Possibly as low as 5%. Early adopter max players would obviously dominate this scenario with a large number of new players ending up stuck in the silver and gold leagues with half leveled decks.
However, this scenario assumes only 7.4M cards. Most likely steem monsters would release another edition containing many core alpha / beta card versions, after the exhaustion of the beta packs with slightly higher combine rates. The core set is too much of a stable foundation to completely retire. New reward cards most likely will continue to be released, with possibly new specialized expansions or additional promos also realized. For early adopters, this translates to a fear of card market oversaturation and value dilution, but the only way for a collectible card game to survive is to expand the player base. Forcing new players to buy from a monopolized pool of cards already controlled by early investors is not sustainable and would result in resentment and game abandonment. In consistently releasing new cards and sets for new players, the developers accomplish two goals, bringing in new players to a game that does not appear stacked against them, while also bringing in new potential buyers of rare or promo cards for early adopters.
Early max deck players will hold many of the top spots on the leaderboards, but new cards will allow changing strategies, sometimes shifting the balance. Card delegation will also allow for new players to make a run up the rankings with leased and otherwise unaffordable cards.
I'm not sure how difficult a 5k unique player or 6.5k active accounts threshold would be to achieve. Crypto can be difficult to navigate and CCGs are already a tough market. One stat I noticed was 4081 inactive accounts over 2 weeks. It's hard to know why they quit and every game has high turnover, but I think 5k players could be a huge tipping point. Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone playing!