As the creators of Steem Monsters, one of our primary responsibilities is protecting the market values of cards. The number one way we ensure this happens is by limiting the number of booster packs from any specfic edition.
This is an incredibly effective tool especially in conjunction with the card condensing mechanic to level cards up. Already we've gone from 1.5 million cards sold in alpha to 473k still in game (and yes, they are still condensing). That's a decrease in supply of 57% and anyone following the market can see the effect it's having on price. Generally speaking we have seen common cards start trading in the 3-4 cent range and are now selling for 17-20 cents. Conservatively that's a 4x change in the last few months while most of crypto is tanking.
Recently, we launched season 2 of Steem Monsters. We're happy with the balance changes we've introduced as well as the various conflict rules which spice up the game, but we've been a little befuddled by the high use of bots and also card swapping. The combination of the two is partially responsible for doubling the amount of pack rewards relative to season 1 (12k --> 24k). There are some voices that are very concerned about that effect.
To be clear, the booster packs awarded through the season rewards come from the same total pool of 900k beta edition booster packs that will ever be available. So really what is happening is that we are giving away more packs to our players instead of selling them. Every pack earned through season rewards or quests is one less that can be sold, so we want to be clear that we are not inflating the overall supply.
We realize that there is a temporary, short-term increase in supply when the season ends, which may lead to a short-term decrease in market prices, but over the long term all this really does is end beta faster at which point the cards are no longer available.
Now, neither bots nor card swapping are technically wrong or against any rules. The system allows it, and in fact there is no good, feasible way to prevent such a thing in a decentralized fasion. That said, we realize that it's creating a negative experience for many players so we're making some changes to help address the issues. While it appears that roughly 10% of the combat is facilitated by bots it's having a pretty negative impact to sentiment. So, we're making changes.
Two Key Changes: Cooldowns and Conflicts
The first key change that we're adding is a cooldown between when a card is transferred to another account and when it is able to be played in ranked battles. The changes are as follows:
- If a card is on the market it will no longer be usable in ranked battle. This was always intended to be the case, however it was an oversight that it had not been implemented until now.
- If a card is gifted or sold on the market then it must have a period of 7 days where it does not get played in ranked battles.
For example, if a card hasn't been played for 7 days before it's sold/gifted then it can be played right away in ranked battles. Similarly, if a card was played 4 days ago and it's sold/gifted then it may not be played in ranked battles for another 3 days.
These changes won't effect practice mode. And when challenges / tournaments are put in place it won't effect them either. It only effects ranked season play.
Card transfers will only start to be counted once the changes are put into effect. Meaning that if you have transfered a card just before the changes went into effect, it will still be able to be played immeditaly afterwards.
This change has already been put into effect earlier this morning. We normally like to give a heads-up before changes are made however in this case we wanted to avoid people transferring all their cards around before the change was implemented to further take advantage of the season rewards.
Also coming is a change to how the game play will work. Right now you first create your team based on the current "conflict" parameters, and then you can battle over and over with that same team until the conflict changes every two days. This really lends itself to automation and gives human players little advantage.
Instead, we would like the game to require some active thought and interaction for every match. As a first step towards achieving that goal, we plan to change it so that you get matched with an opponent before creating your team. Then once you are matched, you get a randomly chosen set of conflict parameters and you and your opponent each have to create your team on the spot for that specific battle.
Here's a preview of what the new screen will look like once you're matched with an opponent:
As you can see, you'll be matched, know who you're fighting, see the last five teams they have played with, find out what conflict rules are in place, and then you have a short period of time to either surrender or make a team to battle.
While we're still not quite at the point where the game is complicated enough that bots really don't have a chance, we getting there. I'm sure they are trying to make a smarter bot, and so we have an arms race!
While automated play will likely never go away completely, and it is definitely useful to add "liquidity" and make sure everyone can always find a match, we hope that by adding more interaction and variables into each individual match it will put bots at a disadvantage to human players.
We have also made some adjustments to the matchmaking algorithm which have been highly requested by the community. Diamond league players will now only be matched up with other Diamond league players (vs Champion league players which they could be matched up with previously). Additionally Champion league players will be matched up with other Champion league players with similar ratings (though still a relatively large range), so you will no longer see matches against players with 10,000+ point rating differences.
Super Awesome Fun Mode
Our ultimate goal is to make an amazing and highly addictive game that provides earning potential and a sound place to stake some money to our players. Once tournaments are in place our focus will switch to making gameplay more interactive and allow decisions between rounds thorugh incorporation of items and spells in game. As we keep going we'll keep layering in complexity as intuitively as we can to make for a fun and engaging game where smart players can school bots all day.
As you can you see we're doing our best to make everything awesome, but it takes time. Thanks for your patience as we work through some kinks. We take every card pack purchase as a "thank you note" and we do our best to honor your choice to stake your money and time here. Happy steeming and we can't wait to crush ya on the battle field for glory and riches!