Giving us something to play for – a radical overhaul of prize money
Since FML launched we have had a number of issues which will not go away. In my opinion, the main three are:
- AI percentages and punishments
- A lack of a sense of progression
- Too many DYM competitions and the like
Teams in premier divisions or even in major UFFA competitions go 100% AI. Teams in the lower divisions feel like there’s nothing to play for in a division full of dead teams and those above realise that spending lots of money to make the top division does not reap any rewards. And people joining new gameworlds feel they are at a complete disadvantage if they cannot get a great starting squad and win all the early “double your money” competitions in the first week and a half. In short:
- why should we put up with high AI%?
- why should we try to win the UFFA Gold Cup?
- how can we ensure DYM teams cannot destabilise the economy?
There is a solution. But it will require a complete re-conceptualisation of the gameworld economy. It will require us to rethink the very purpose of prize money and stadium income and it will require us to throw away conceptions of “the poor get poorer and the rich get richer”. I hope I can outline this quickly and concisely and show how quite a simple but radical overhaul of FMLconomics can rejuvenate our gameworlds.
Here is my basic premise, in bold. My reasoning will come afterwards.
Scrap money from friendly competitions
Reduce stadium and general income
Vastly increase prize money for federation and UFFA competitions
Initial reactions to this are likely to be negative. I understand this. On the face of it, I am advocating that friendly competitions become meaningless, that the rich super teams should get all the money and that all that money spent on stadiums was a waste of time. But if we look deeper and think holistically about this proposition, I think you’ll agree that it is for the long-term good of the game.
Free friendly competitions
First of all, and this is the most obvious benefit – no more DYM. And no more competitions where the big sides win all the prize money and the smaller teams get ripped off. Now friendlies are what they should be – friendlies. For bragging rights, for testing out tactics and players and for keeping the green boots away. We will play friendlies because we want to – they will not be our main source of income, nor will they be used to dodge taxes. Now, the only way to make money is through the federation. The federation becomes the central focus of our game, and puts greater incentive to win and to achieve a good position. AI% should therefore decrease as we put the fed as our number one priority.
Reduce Stadium and General Income
Currently, it is possible to build a large stadium full of corporate boxes and make a large amount of money through stadiums. This in itself isn’t so much of an issue. But it means that proportionately most of our income comes through the stadium and general income sources. This necessarily diminishes the importance of our federation competitions. However, if my main source of income comes through how high in my federation I get, then I can focus on stadium income as my main way of pulling in the moolah, but why bother when a far more efficient way is to win my federation division? Essentially – what about the game now entices me to progress in my federation when as long as I keep my team’s reputation at around 3.5 to 4.0 stars I know I can easily pay my wages and buy the players I want?
Stadium income should remain high enough for there to be a need to keep attendances high. But at the moment proportionately it is too high to encourage people to progress within their federation. This is what needs to change. The big teams get richer and richer not because of their success but because of how many big names they can cram into their roster. While having big names will encourage more success, surely simply having the names shouldn’t be the biggest factor? They should have to perform, too.
Vastly Increase Money for Federation and UFFA Competitions
But here is my main point. At the moment, why should I spend the money I have to try and get into the premier division? It isn’t worth any more money. In fact, should I finish bottom of the Premier having just got promotion, I will get LESS money than I did the season before. So. Should I spend another 30k a day in wages, and around 500k in transfer fees for potentially an extra minus 150k money by the end of the year? Of course not.
But what if by investing around 2m a season I manage to bring in another 2.5m a season? If the risk/reward element is there, I have an incentive to make my way up through the pyramid. At the moment, I have none. But if there’s a good few million pounds difference in finishing top of the Premier League and relegation from the Premier League, then I’m going to make damn sure I stay there. Otherwise, I am going to have to sell off my big names and rebuild. In short, I have to make enough progress from my investment. But it is easy to see how big I am by how far up the federation I am. And promotion and relegation mean something. In MMO parlance – I’ve “levelled up”… or down…
And think about it – right now, what penalty is it to have high AI? A loss of prize money? Big deal, it’s not that much a proportion of your daily or seasonal income. But, what if you 100% AI in the premier division and lose around half of your income. That could be as much as 1m a season wiped off your bank balance. That’s crippling.
That means less AI. That means that teams will be forced by the bank to release players. That means teams cannot just leave and lock down the stars. It means that you have a real advantage from playing live against those who don’t. Who cares if a 100% AI team wins the league? They’ll be bust this time next year.
As for the UFFA competitions, again: since we don’t have any other form of prize money except the official competitions, there is a massive incentive to “qualify for Europe”. Playing in the UFFA Gold Cup gives you the funds to afford the big stars. Fail to qualify, and you stand to lose a chunk of your income, forcing you to rethink your strategy. Like I have said before, investment in the right areas gains progression to the next “level up”, allowing more money and more progression. But failure means restructuring your team and selling on players.
Why the rich won’t get richer and the poor won’t get poorer – at least, not the way you think…
In football, the rich do get richer. Success breeds success. However, just like in real football, some falter because they overspend and get their strategy wrong. Look at Leeds and Fiorentina, both top level sides who overspent and went bust. They got relegated. They needed to start again.
Also look at how the game currently works. If you are a division 2 side getting a division 2 income, then you can buy all those players in the database that are reasonably good but that nobody else wants. Buying the players at your level makes you gain promotion to division 1. And that extra income means you sell your players on to the managers below you, and buy them from the managers above. A chain develops. Players move more freely as teams move up and down (financially) far more sharply. It will make more of the database relevant, and it will encourage teams to buy to their own level. If they risk buying players above their level, they may rocket through the league system – but they may fail. That produces new strategies and new thinking – and that is good for the game: simply, it’s more fun.
Providing the gaps between the “levels” are managed properly, there is no reason why the top teams should be unassailable. For one thing, they won’t be able to get any more money from DYMs and other friendly competitions. So, beating them in the league means a hell of a lot more: both to you and to them.
Remember, it isn’t just about providing the possibility of a level 3 side to reach the UFFA Gold Cup: it’s also about providing the possibility of the UFFA Gold Cup side dropping to level 3.
Crunching the numbers
So, how do we make sure that this is achieved? How can we make the progression from UFFA – Premier – Championship – League 1 (etc.) a manageable and economically sound proposal? Well, this is something SI and SEGA need to get the boffins on. But let me put it to you like this. Taking the CFA in Fowler (my fed), here are some numbers based on prize money and media contributions:
Winners of the Premier League: Total: ~1.05m
Bottom of the Premier League: Total: ~0.7m
Winners of the Championship: Total: ~0.910m
This should never be. For a start, just over a million for winning the Premier League? That blows! Why bother going for that? And a 200k reduction in prize money potentially for promotion? Does it matter whether I go up or not?
However, if SI can work out how much income the top sides currently get in gameworlds, then the amount of money to be possibly gained from:
Winning the Gold Cup + Winning the Premier Division + Winning a fed cup competition, perhaps + Winning a fed youth competition, perhaps + Stadium and General Income
Should equal roughly the amount the top sides currently generate from official competitions and friendly competitions. How much is this? Well, judging from what I can see in the Fowler gameworld at the moment:
£525,000 from fed media money
£650,000 from winning the Premier Division
£8,400,000 (28x£300,000) from stadiums and general income
£350,000 from “other” official comps (youth, cups etc.)
So that’s around £9.9m from “official sources” per season. I have no reliable estimates on how much people make from friendly competitions, but given that the tax bracket starts at 500k, I’m guessing some teams are raking it in. £2m a season, for the uber sides? Wouldn’t put it past them.
So, £12m. That’s the figure I’m going to say from rough estimates (feel free to come up with a better one, I’m sure you can). £12m total for winning the Gold Cup seems like a sound reward for being the best. Bear in mind, only one side can win the Gold Cup each year, and in Fowler only one side has won it twice in 8 seasons.
We can also control the money coming into the gameworld more effectively. Early on, just limit the amount of money given to federations, to gradually build to this figure of £12m.
So, for example, what if we split the income half and half between stadium and prize money? A top stadium and general income raking in 300k a day now should make maximum £6m a season. That’s 215k a day, give or take.
Winning the Premier League (depending on league rep etc.) should bring in around £3.5m. Media money should account for another half million or so.
Winning the Gold Cup brings in another £1.5m. That takes the total for the UFFA and League Double to around £5.5m in prize money. A total of around £11.5m
That doesn’t make the rich richer. It makes them poorer. Unless they win everything going, year after year after year. If anything, it will control inflation in a much more organic way, and we can perhaps relax the taxes and restriction which people complain so much about.
But let’s look at it lower down: if coming last in the Premier League brought in £2m, and winning the Championship brought in, say £1m, then that’s around 40k a day. That’s a hefty sum, but not a sum that will create that much of a rich-poor divide if managed properly (again, someone better at maths and with more economic data will have to refine these amounts). There is real, real incentive to get up to the next level – to get promoted – to “level up”.
So, you should buy players to achieve success. Good 30+ year old players suddenly have value. Not resale value, but prize money value. The difference could be drastic. 20k a day on the old guy this year could mean an extra 20k next year to spend on the squad.
And AI% penalties will really, really mean something. Finishing mid table in the Premier Division is all well and good, but if you lose 80% of your income because of your AI% then you will soon find yourself hundreds of thousands of pounds worse off. If that’s not an incentive to at least play fed matches live, what is? And it would eliminate the need to deny teams promotion or relegate teams based on AI%, because they would end up relegating or deactivating themselves through their lack of income.
The actual figures for this need working out by official bods. All of these are examples, and are not fully calculated. But this is the general premise. Make the fed the centre of all our money. And by doing so, even out the gameworld and give us an incentive to play, win and rub it in.
|Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.