Published November 13, 2023
Taking that a step further, can you tell us why are there two forms of currency in the game (silver and gold) that allow for purchase of different items rather than one currency that can be used for everything? Or even having gold be like a dollar bill to the silver’s penny, where you could convert 1,000 silver to maybe 100 gold, but both could be used to purchase anything in the game?
You can find a lot of answers to this out there, but the most important reason is that having one currency players can grind for (silver) and one players can’t grind for (gold) allows us to create more special rewards without awarding an absolute truckload of silver. It is a bit counterintuitive, but having multiple currencies makes it considerably easier to design rewards.
This week we saw an in-game notification that a new version of game physics has been added into PGA Tour. There weren’t really any details about what that means to players, exactly, but it implied that it would resolve some on-going issues that users could have been experiencing. Can you tell us in any detail what sort of things this new version addresses?
Note: This question suffers from my delay! This change happened back in September.
The new version only adds backwards-compatibility. It just means that when we make physics changes in the future, they won’t cause you to no longer be able to watch old replays (which is one reason we’ve been so slow making physics updates).
In the future, the top of our list is…
Shot stopping fixes — Start working on all the cases players post of the ball seeming to “stick” somewhere it shouldn’t… like over the hole!
Wind simplification — We want to be extremely careful with this one, and I’d like to recruit some expert players to beta test it if possible. The goal is to make wind more intuitive.
The new pin placements have added so much welcomed variety to the game. It’s amazing how something so “simple” can force you to completely reconsider your bag choice and new approaches to holes. Have you guys gotten any feedback about how some of the new pin locations seem to have created some rough spots on the green that weren’t there before? Like maybe the groundscrew needs to do some heavy rolling on the newly created humps around the pins. Seriously asking for a friend.
Ha! I don’t get enough hole-by-hole feedback, honestly. That is the kind of thing I’d love to get sent on a regular basis. If people know of parts of holes that don’t work right, I want that in the feedback section of the Discord!
Let’s talk about what is probably the least popular change in the game this year: the Rocket nerf. Why after four years did it feel necessary to make that change now?
How did the actual player base reaction compare to what Concrete may have been bracing for? And were you guys concerned you’d lose a chunk of the player base in protest and did that risk outweigh having Rocket be too overpowered any longer?
Shout out to two of our distinguished FedExCup leaderboard champions for October Dave-TheNerfed FF and Mags Losers Union. When people care about clubs or club changes they disagree with, they really care.
The Rocket change was the tip of the iceberg. Years of choices came together in a way that put us in a difficult position.
We knew, from day one when we decided to add special clubs to Golf Shootout, that we’d want to have an active balancing plan. Frequent card changes to have the broadest possible set of clubs feel like they were worth using. Maybe only in your sixth bag, but worth testing and worth considering once in a while.
However, our release was really rocky. I don’t know if many people remember, but the FedExCup ladder was over 75% ties for the first several months. We had bigger problems than club balance, and so we didn’t do much balancing for that first year.
That set a terrible precedent! When we had some breathing room, we talked about game balance, and decided that nerfing clubs was probably off the table, since players had had so long to form opinions about clubs and invest a lot of time and currency into them. At the time, Rocket wasn’t even used that much, and the limited analytics/community outreach we had didn’t let us understand the powerhouse it would become.
To be honest — and this might sound a little cynical — it might have been better for us to just schedule in some small club adjustments even if we didn’t know what we were doing just to set the precedent that any club’s stats are not necessarily set in stone. I think the biggest problem with the Rocket change is the feeling of betrayal, and we could have done a lot to telegraph that that was the kind of thing that could happen.
Anyway, by 2023 it was pretty clear that The Rocket was so strong that it effectively solved any distance-based problem we could throw at players. Gravity tournament? Rocket. Extra long Mythical hole? Rocket. Hypothetical draft mode? Better hope you get Rocket because you’ll win if you get it and lose if you don’t.
At the same time, player complaints began to shift toward saying the game was growing stale. We’d started adding more new content, but were aware that as long as one club can get you 50% farther than the competition (and importantly, also get there faster for timed tournaments), there wouldn’t be much reason to experiment with anything else.
We made the change & awarded compensation with two goals in mind:
Make sure The Rocket was still an excellent club players would be happy to own.
Compensate players for more than 100% of their investment in the club to account for the time and effort spent chasing copies.
Basically, we wanted to create a situation where, retroactively, players would have made the same decisions. The club still needed to be a good investment. We just wanted to open up more room for variety in bags and challenges.
I know you pay very close attention to club-use metrics. Are you seeing what I’m suspecting, that the use of Windstrike has gone up exponentially since the Rocket nerf? I mean, it drives for nearly the same distance with much greater accuracy. Doesn’t that just transfer the over-use of one club to another and could that eventually lead to a Windstrike nerf?
Well, let’s look at FedExCup statistics for one lens on that:
Windstrike is up to a 10.5% use rate among Level 8s and a 6.8% use rate among Level 9s. This compares to 29.8% and 63.3% for Rocket (stats from the first two weeks of October 2023).
Windstrike is not pushing other clubs out of contention the way Rocket was.
But usage statistics aren’t everything! When players collect Meteor (the most-used club among top-level players), they use it with all kinds of things and it opens up possibilities. We didn’t see any club closing competing possibilities the way Rocket did.