Debating The Private Sales Rule Change
On Friday, April 10th, the game issued an announcement that seemed to come out of the blue for many of us. The landscape of the direct private sales was going to change indefinitely as HRP looks to crack down on some of the transactions that have taken place in the past, mainly direct private sales of horses that are far below market value. The statement read, as follows, per HRP:
Starting on or about April 17th, direct sales will work a little differently. If an offer is made and accepted to sell a horse in a direct sale the horse will be placed on the private sales list for 3 maintenance periods. Other players will have the option to place a request to purchase the horse off the private sales list for double the original price or $20 whichever is greater. If another player requests to purchase the horse at the higher price the original player will be refunded and can then place a request off of the sales list to purchase the horse at the higher price. If no request is made to purchase the horse at the higher price the original sale will go through. The minimum fee will be 0.25 for the direct sale instead of 5.00.
With trainers focusing on the upcoming triple crown races or the beginning of the two year old racing season, the announcement was a surprise. Is it good for the game as a whole? Is it bad? In this article, Stu and I got together and tackled some of the questions that have been brought up raised in the forum threads that have come up. For the most part, we differ on our opinions of the rule change, with Stu being “mostly against” and myself being “mostly for”. It is a hotly debated topic, so let’s look at some questions.
1) The rule change is good for the game.
The new private sales rule ISN’T good for the game…why?
It is a rule that is made to stop cheating that doesn’t stop cheating and only further restricts a part of the game which gave it some realism.
True, the game existed before private sales but there was also a time without breeding, conformation and horse weight. Lets take breeding, the breeding game never reflected real life, mares could have 4 foals a year, stallions could produce endless amounts of sperm on one singe day, stables could hold thousands of foals at a time, none of which reflected real life. This situation was taken advantage of and HRP adjusted it to make it fairer. They restricted breeding but still it is a LONG way from the real life model. Private sale on the other hand was pretty much the same as real life from day one. However, like breeding people took advantage of it. So what did they do? Instead of punishing those that cheated they made a rule where people could still cheat but those that played the game fairly were disadvantaged and that is a detachment from real life and totally unacceptable.
The new private sales rule IS good for the game…. why?
Direct private sales are a great and necessary component of the game. However, there are too many private sales going on now for $10 that should be for much more. If I am a new player coming into the game, and I see SuperStakesHorseA selling for $10, that has a better track record and still seems to be in the prime of his career, and then see SuperStakesHorseB selling for $800 that also seems to be in the prime of his career, then I am going to wonder what I am getting into. How is this aspect of the game equitable when there is such a discrepancy and why would I want to invest in a game where there seems to be clusters of players giving each other deals? Perception of inequitably ruin an online game. As an experienced player, I am aware that many of the cheap sales are a part of a trade, or perhaps a generous gift made by a trainer, such as how I got Socotra Island about two years ago. Those gifts were a great part of the game, but when money is exchanged behind the scenes to avoid the HRP fees, then I have a problem with that. That is not realistic, either. If two trainers engaged in a ridiculously cheap sale of horses, and did so over and over, they are going to be investigated, and perhaps by the IRS. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but the paypal deals behind the scenes ruined it for those who were genuinely doing good and giving gifts to others in regards to a cheap horse.
2) The new rule change will hurt smaller stables. Why or why not?
STU: YES. Smaller stables will have to pay less private sales fees, so in one way it is good for smaller stables. However, what the rule does do is take away the ability of a more established stable helping out a new or smaller stable by selling them a horse cheaper than market value. However, I must say, this is no fairer than those we are deeming to be cheating so I actually think this isn’t such a bad thing. If a smaller stable finds a nice prospect and offers say $50 for it then, yes, another stable with more money can come in and bid $100 and take it from them, but that is very similar to the auction process and no-one has complained about that being unfair for smaller stables.
NS: NO (Well not completely). On this topic, we see same the two fundamental issues, but apply more weight to the different ends of it. During my HRP career, I have had two periods where I “sold out”. The first was in 2014, when I came to the realization that I was never going to be as good as I wanted to be in the game, and was less happy with running at small tracks, even if I was still getting positive results at them. The second time was because of real life issues creating the reason for me to get funds. I sold a lot of good horses, well, good horses for me, anyway. The 2014 period was around this time of year, so I had plenty of promising two year olds, and some of them actually did have very good success with their new connections. All those $5 fees added up. THAT is what kills the small stable. Looking back at some records, I sold 153 horses in 2014 in a direct private sale, some for more then others obviously, but all were $5 in fees. That cost $765. Now, that would cost $38.25, a savings of $726.75. Those are numbers that matter for a small stable. Yes, it is very true that a bigger stable can come in with more money now and take a horse they want to buy. That is unfortunate, but smaller stables are smaller stables for a reason, and for most, the savings on the selling fee will be more beneficial.
3) The new rule will stop trading. Yes or no?
STU: The new rule will NOT stop trading. I have heard of two very simple ways that work pretty much the same as they do now but in reverse. The only way to stop trading is to make it against the rules OR make it expensive through fee’s to the point where the larger community benefits and those that trade aren’t getting such a great deal.
NS: While the rule is not going to stop trading, it is going to make trading look better, and that’s all the matters. If two stables agree to trade horses, they can trade them for their applicable value. If A should get $100 more in a sale of two $800 quality horses, then they are going to be sold for something like $700 and $800 instead of $10 and $110. If they are worried about Mega big Stables coming in and trying to snag one for $1,400 or $1,600, then that is a factor that trainer A and B need to address privately, and is not the game’s or the general community’s problem. Trading does not have to be eliminated, but it has to be monitored.
4) $10 sales of established stakes horses in or near the prime of their career ruins the integrity and realism factor of the game?
STU: The sales of top horses for $10 is like a top stable getting the best jockey, like an inferior two year old with a run under its belt beating a debutant, like a wide drawn horse running completely against its running style and instruction just because it is drawn wide. It is a part of the game which needed attention from the owners. However what the owners have done will not effect those that are deemed to be cheating, it doesn’t change a thing and thus it wont make the integrity of the game any better it will merely make it ‘look’ better on the surface. I am offended by the lack of thought and the lack of problem solving skills employed in the making of this rule and the fact that this was looked at before many other glaring faults and improvements that should have taken precedence.
NS: I will agree with you that right now, the timing of this rule change did not seem to be best. As the two year old racing season begins, for example, most of us would have appreciated a new policy of having first time starter only two year old races be carded, instead of this rule change. That said, it is a step in the right direction. If new players feel the financial components of the game are not equitable, then they are going to think twice about making a large investment into the game, if they had the means to do so. Making it look better on the surface is a good thing in that way. There are bigger issues which affect the gameplay even more. Hopefully, those are being worked on as well.
Thank you for taking the time to read this commentary.