Glancing through the forums, I continue to notice all types of mis-directional information, whether intentional or not, being published. So, I thought that once again I would clarify our true direction.
First, the Puzzle Program. The Puzzle Program was implemented as an incentive for trainers to enter tournaments, which in turn, would benefit trainers who are serious about the game. The only thing wrong with the Puzzle Program was how people were able to access it. In the beginning, when we gave a puzzle play for each Yellow Tournament, we realized that Yellow Tournaments would affect our other tournaments. Now that we have adjusted how the Puzzle Program is accessed, that problem has been resolved. You can obviously still access the Puzzle Program by playing Yellow Tournaments, and we expect some players to do that. Remember, Yellow Tournaments fill a void. More importantly, now that we know the Puzzle Program can pay out big, players will want multiple shots at the Puzzle Program. In order to do that, they have to enter General Tournaments, or at least Greens, Blues or Reds. We are slowly seeing entries in those tournaments pick up.
The Puzzle Program is a gift – a bonus that came at no cost to the players. It was never calculated in our financials. It’s just another way the company is motivating players to build stables. This wasn’t an obligation we had. It’s something we did to reward active trainers. Now that the new horses (horses born after December 27, 2012) are finally starting to be active in tournaments, I’m sure puzzle wins will pick up again. That will motivate other players to maximize puzzle opportunities. They will do that by entering general tournaments for multiple puzzle plays or Red, Green and Blue Restricted Tournaments. The cycle just has to play out, and it will over the next 30 days.
In order to even further motivate players to build their stables and actively enter tournaments, we’re rolling out a new program in February that rewards players with big opportunities for payouts as big as the Puzzle Program by making fictitious wagers on champion horses (the greatest horses that ever lived). Player will earn those opportunities to play through a combination of active horses and active horses in tournaments.
When you look at the Puzzle Program, which has already paid out thousands of dollars in money and hundreds of dollars in game points, understand that this is coming from the company’s marketing budget. All of these posts telling us what we need to do and where we should redirect our marketing dollars aren’t taking into consideration that these are new-found bonuses by the company that we have absolutely no commitment or obligation to provide except build competition among players. Utilizing these bonuses and putting them toward payouts doesn’t bring new players onboard in the same manner.
So, how do the older players benefit? First, they can just as easily win the Puzzle Program, or win the fictitious betting program, which they should, in theory, have more opportunities at both because they’re established with good horses. But, where they really benefit is when the new player base continues to build and the core entries build, then we can allocate even more bonuses based on tournaments won like we do now, potentially even creating new categories of rewards solely tied into training skills. Marketing is a funnel, and as the funnel fills, we become stronger at the bottom building up our core base.
All of these preposterous comments and ludicrous remarks about the company going in the wrong direction are just not true. The difference is we’re thinking a different way and are approaching it in a different way. We’re putting our money into that approach without taking anything away from the existing reward programs. I could see it, if I reduced certain reward programs to introduce these new ones, but the fact that these are added with the intention of the long-term building of the game player base makes me a big supporter of all of our current players in ensuring the growth of our game and community. I’ve been reading in the forums that tournaments are just not filling. There are a lot of canceled tournaments. That’s because we publish so many tournaments now, that at any given time, there are over 1,200 active tournaments. The turn on those tournaments can be as much as 3,000 a week. In other words, we’re publishing three times more tournaments today than we did a year ago and 50 times more tournaments than when we started out six years ago. One of the issues is the frequency of the same tournament running, so if it doesn’t fill on Monday, it’s available again Wednesday or Thursday. This is specifically associated with the Green, Blue and Red Restricted Tournaments. The new search program we just implemented should help fill these more effectively because the results we’re bringing back when players search for tournaments from their stable page are very specific to their horses. They can find the right tournaments in minutes, no longer scrolling through pages and pages of listed tournaments.
We run, on average, not including Yellow Restricted Tournaments, 155+ tournament races per day. That is over 1,000 per week. Last year at this time, we were running about 30% less and the amount of published tournaments was only 30%, as well - so, the illusion is that a lot more tournaments are being canceled now than last year. Though in numbers that is correct, last year at this time we were only publishing one-third the amount of tournaments we’re publishing now. That is a combination of convenience, tournaments being available days later instead of weeks (like last year) and a significant increase in the types of tournaments available through the Blues and Greens.
But, we’re still looking at more ways to motivate the filling of tournaments. We’ll do that by adding new players. Starting in February, we’re initiating some very aggressive player acquisition programs. They will be launched once the website speed gets updated one more time. We have an exact clone of our website being worked on by a group of very talented developers who have increased the website speed ten-fold. (Remember, this is the test website.) So, pages loading in 4, 5, 6 seconds are literally loading in half-a-second. We are hoping to move this over to our live site in 3 to 4 weeks. Once that’s done, we will initiate a very significant marketing push. With all the new bonus programs available and the new guy having a shot to win something quickly, pushing him down the funnel and growing the base, is what we expect to happen. (Lots more players and many more tournaments running.)
We’re working on the new desktop client, a video of which I plan to show by February 15. The desktop client is a game changer for us. The technology is cutting-edge and, along with this new technology, comes enhanced jockey AI along with several new training features to allow trainers to train their horses more quickly. This is a very big update, but for all the players utilizing the desktop client, it brings the game to an entirely new level. Because it was designed from scratch, it ties into the community and the web game like a glove. The current desktop client came way before the community did, so the coordination between the two isn’t perfect. That causes confusion to new players trying to understand how the desktop client and the web interface are supposed to interact with each other. So, once again we are thinking of our established players by giving them something they want, and at the same time we’re giving new players something that helps them adapt to our game in a more organized and simplified manner.
As I mentioned last month, we have closed a partnership with a very large company who has taken a major stake in Horse Racing Simulation. I’m just waiting for permission to officially announce it. Their partnership not only allows us to expand the game with more features and to expand our marketing programs even further, it will also allow us to introduce new bonus programs that actually tie into major horse racing events. In other words, the game will go to a whole new level. Part of this new vision includes our championship races actually running on national TV where players with the best horses can watch those horses compete on the big screen right in their living room as part of a broadcast presentation in a weekly featured event.
To sum up our development team’s current focus, the list includes:
• A much faster website
• A new desktop client with enhanced features and improved jockey intelligence
• New general features, like the ability to challenge players to match races with your horses
• Fictitious wagering program, wagering on the greatest horses that ever lived for big bonus payouts
• Simplified shopping cart and ability to breed multiple horses to the same sire and/or dam without checking out
• VIP Lounge – Yes, the VIP Lounge is finally in development. It will include a free monthly breeding for VIP members, VIP passes to over a dozen racetracks around the United States and other cool contests
This, along with other features and improvements, are being developed. So, for someone to say we don’t care about our players, or we’re not staying ahead of the competition just doesn’t make sense when you look at the big picture. The company has come a long way since 2007. For those players who have actually been around for more than 3 or 4 years, the added features and bonuses have overall been well-received and have allowed us to ensure company growth between 30% and 40% year-over-year since company inception.
One final thought, and I’ve said it many times. Our company has not profited since day one. The reason for that is that every dime that has been generated in revenues, along with additional monies, has gone into the constant building out of our dream. We could have easily stopped development a year or two ago, put the game on cruise control and made a decent living every month. Instead, we have elected to continue to invest for the bigger picture. Our picture may be different than what some players envision – or, maybe it’s not so different, it’s just that our direction is misunderstood or misinterpreted and our vision is the same as that of a lot of players. How we get there is just a different business approach. I am not here to please everyone. Our government can’t do it, so why should I be expected to do it? What I am here to do is communicate our vision and keep providing new and exciting opportunities to enjoy our game. We are a form of entertainment and we’re just trying to make that entertainment bigger and better.