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Balthazar Research Report – Splinterlands: The Sleeping Giant

Written by Nicholas Korsgaard, Chief Gaming Officer, Kim Bjerkeli and Sigurd Thomassen, Game Strategists, Balthazar Alpha Team, with an economic analysis from Terry Vogiatzis.

Contents

Introduction

This report covers the play-to-earn NFT game, Splinterlands. We explore the basics of the game, how it is played, what blockchain it is built on and who’s on the team.

We will then take a look at the roadmap where we explore things that are to come. Then we continue to look at features that enable a guild and scholar model.

This follows our thoughts on the Whitepaper, before looking into statistics.

There are some findings in our research which are yet to be explained, but could point to things coming down the line. We discuss these findings before we share our outlook on the game.

Towards the end, we dive into the economics of the game and look into the opportunity, yield, and tokenomics.

Splinterlands is complex and a different beast compared to most other NFT games out there right now. Read at your own peril. Here be dragons!

Background

Splinterlands is a digital, collectible trading, multiplayer card game where you fight other players with a combination of up to seven of your own cards. It’s reminiscent of games such as Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering Arena.

The main game mode is Ranked mode, which allows you to compete against other players in a league-based system. By winning battles, you progress and gain rank points, which in turn increases your ranking. If you lose, you lose points and your rank drops.

Card splinters, mana, and card arrangement

To play the game you need a deck of cards with a summoner and monsters. By default, the game provides a basic deck of cards in each splinter (type) you can play with. The types of cards you can play depend on the summoner card. This card has a specific type, and the monster cards you can play with this have to be within the same type or a neutral card. Let’s say you pick a summoner from the fire splinter to play. In this case, you would only be able to play monsters from the fire splinter and neutral monsters.

The deck you play is limited to a maximum of one summoner and six monsters. In total, seven cards. The summoner you pick decides the type of monsters you can play. You will also be limited by a mana cost which is different in each game. So when you’re building out your team, you must pick monsters with a cost that fits within the total amount of mana allowed for that game. And it is generally good to fill your team as much as possible within the constraints of the specific game. For example, say you get a game of 29 mana. The summoner you select costs three mana, so you’re left with 26 mana for the last six cards, which are monsters.

The order that your monsters are arranged is important because the one in the front position will usually be targeted first. Comparing this to other games, this will in most cases be the “tank”.

You should put a defensive monster here, which can handle some beating. Ranged monsters will in most cases not be able to attack from the first position, and are usually put in the back. Magic monsters can attack from anywhere, and penetrate shields. When your frontline monster dies, the next in line will take its position, and so on. Once you’re out of monsters, you lose. When the enemy is out of monsters you win.

Card rarity

The cards themselves have different rarities. Both summoners and monsters can be regular, or of a gold foil variation. Gold foils are rarer than regular foils, and provide more Collection Power than a regular card. Each gold card also gives a 10% bonus when played in a winning battle.

As mentioned earlier, there are basic decks of cards that the game provides. But these are limited to common and rare cards, and have only the past two-card editions available. These cards can not be sold or transferred, and they do not contribute Collection Power(CP) towards your league ranking.

Ranking system and card acquisition

The ranking system works like this. You need two different metrics of rating to progress to a certain league:

  1. One is the CP, which is the total burn value in Dark Energy Crystals (DEC) – the main in-game currency of the game – of your entire deck of owned cards, not the provided basic deck.
  2. The other metric is the actual player rating, which you gain through winning games. What will usually cap a player from progressing through the leagues, especially in the lower ranks, is the CP. This is because you would have to own the cards amounting to the total CP of the account, and this could get costly.

So to stay competitive and progress through the ranks, it is important to build a collection of cards. This is something that can be done in a few ways. At the time of writing, the Chaos Legion sale is still going, and a new player can buy booster packs from the game itself. In booster packs, you will get five cards, where one is guaranteed to be rare or better.

Another way to acquire cards is by buying them individually on the secondary market, which is a peer-to-peer market implemented in the game. One could also use tools like Peakmonsters to access the market.

The final solution is renting cards. This is enabled through the built-in rental market. The reason this works is that Hive blockchain assets can be delegated to other accounts on the blockchain. There are restrictions to the rented cards however. They can not be combined, sold, or transferred, but they can be used in play by the renter, and they contribute to the player’s total CP.

Card power

Regular cards are by default at level one. And there can be some variations in this with gold foil cards, depending on their rarity. Basic gold foil cards are default level two.

The higher you progress in the ranking leagues, the higher level of monsters you are able to play. This means that a default monster in level one can be upgraded. To do this, you would combine a specific amount of cards of the same monster, and this will result in a higher level card. This process of merging cards is irreversible but will increase the stats and collection power of the card.

To compete at a higher level it is essential to have higher-level cards. It is also important to mention that to utilise a monster’s level, the summoner card must also be at a certain level. Summoners are levelled up in the same way, by taking several lower-level summoner cards, and combining them to yield a higher-level summoner. Summoners will not get any new stats or traits, other than the ability to “summon” higher-level monsters.

Scope of a battle

When you start a game in Splinterlands, you will be queued up to fight against someone that has about the same rank as you. Depending on which league you’re playing in, several rules and restrictions can come into play. In the image below, we can see the competitor we’re meeting, which rules are in play, the mana limit for each player, and finally which elements (splinters) are allowed. The higher rank you have will lead to more diverse scenarios in a battle, which is why top performers need to have a versatile deck with high level cards.

In the image below, we can see how the drafting process is done. You will first select a summoner, in this case, “Kelya Frendul” from the water splinter. Then you select the monsters that then become available to you.

In this game, we had a 32 mana restriction, and we were able to utilise it fully. After this process of drafting is done, the game begins. At this point, there is nothing you can do to impact the game any further. The game will play out as a simulation, and you can choose to speed it up, or skip it altogether. The game is mathematically calculated from the moment the drafting period is over. The battle is depicted below.

When the fight has concluded, you will see this post-game screen, which tells you if you won or lost.

Tokens of the game

Splinterlands operates with two main tokens or currencies. Dark Energy Crystals (DEC) and Splinter Shards (SPS). Up until now, DEC is the reward token you receive by winning a game, and is also the token you need for “burning” a card. The collection power of a card is equal to the value of DEC you receive for burning it.

SPS is the governance token which has been rewarded as airdrops to people who own cards or assets that count towards collection power. The amount of SPS you receive in the airdrop is correlated to the amount of collection power you have. Collection power that you have rented or acquired through delegation will not count towards your airdrop. SPS is also stakeable, and the staking rewards are SPS.

Blockchain


What chain does the game run on?

Splinterlands is built and run on the Hive blockchain.

Hive is an independent and decentralised fork of the Steem blockchain. The community forked it after Steem became too centralised due to disproportionate influence.

It uses a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) consensus algorithm, just like the Tezos blockchain. Read more about Tezos in our report covering the ecosystem. On the Hive blockchain, the block producers are called “witnesses”, whereas on Tezos they are called “bakers”.

The Hive blockchain has two classes of cryptocurrencies, named HIVE and Hive Backed Dollars (HBD). HIVE also has a staked form called Hive Power (HP). The HIVE crypto is the liquid currency of the ecosystem.

HP is vested during a process called “power-up”. When powered up, Hive Power can be un-staked entirely or partially at any time. This is referred to as “power down”. The staked HP returns to its liquid form (HIVE) in equal amounts over a 13-week period, where a chunk of it is delivered every seven days.

The HIVE blockchain does not have transaction fees but relies on a fee-less system that uses rechargeable Resource Credits (RC). Depending on the number of transactions, you must stake HIVE directly proportional with what you need. The limit of transactions is not publicly available at the time of writing, but we believe there are several factors that affect this.

The more you stake, the more Resource Credits you get. And they self-replenish at a rate of 20% every 24 hours. For big entities like Balthazar, which manages thousands of transactions when merging cards, delegating and transacting in a game like Splinterlands, a certain amount of HIVE needs to be staked in order to avoid being bottlenecked by Resource Credits.

The average player, however, would most likely not need to stake any HIVE because they have a low number of transactions. This removes one of the biggest barriers of entry for users and developers. HP can also be temporarily lent or delegated to other accounts on the chain. This means the receiver of the delegation would get a higher pool of Resource Credits for the time of lending.

Regarding APIs

Hive does not regulate its APIs or provide constraints on the type of endpoints that may be built on it. Individual front-ends and websites may present or not present segments of Hive content as they deem fit. This does not adversely impact the availability of the material stored on the Hive blockchain. With its censorship-resilient design, Hive is a dedicated proponent of free speech and transparency.

Source: Hive Whitepaper

Team


Who is on the team?

Founders:

  • Dr. Jesse “Aggroed” Reich
  • Matthew “Yabapmatt” Rosen

Other notable members

  • Alfred Vesligaj – Game Designer
  • Aly Madhavji – Senior Advisor
  • Ashley Roepel – Creative RPG Writer
  • Clemente Perez – Customer Service Agent
  • Daniel Beazley – Narrative Designer
  • Edward Sullivan – Advisor
  • Indrashish D. – UI/UX Designer
  • Isaiah Croatt – Software Engineer
  • Joseph Shimerdla – Narrative Lead
  • Kevin Buckley – VP of Engineering
  • Liam Labistour – Growth Marketing
  • Nate Aguila – Creative Director
  • Ric Hogerheide – eSports Marketing Manager
  • Richard Adleta – CTO
  • Sarah Nguyen DYGYCON Event Coordinator
  • Scott Roepel – Narrative Designer
  • Shane Lockwood – Splinterlands Telegram Consultant

Team assessment

We will preface that we were unable to find a full list of team members, and the above is all the team members with titles we were able to find, so then our assessment is based on these.

Overall, this is an impressive team for a digital card game, with a very clear focus on both lore, world-building, and the actual feel of the game, which is clearly felt while playing. The depth they’ve been able to create within Splinterlands and the longevity they’ve amassed from their ever-growing user base is a true testament to the team’s ability, more so than any previous experience or degree.

Top-quality advisors provide another level of trust and belief in the game itself. Standing out is Senior Advisor Aly Madhavji, who was a consultant for almost 3.5 years for the United Nations with FinTech & Blockchain solutions to help alleviate poverty, support business ecosystems, financial inclusion, and improve society at large. Edward Sullivan is also advising, who’s currently the CEO and Founder of Trust Exchange, and previously CEO and Founder of Aria Systems.

The fact that Splinterlands is onboarding advisors of this caliber speaks highly of their ambition and capabilities.

Do they have relevant experience?

There are huge amounts of experience across the entirety of the team, but honestly, we believe that because Splinterlands has been around for so many years already, the most important and valuable experience is through and with their own game. Splinterlands earning and governance tokens have both been through heavy bear markets on multiple occasions but have always bounced back, and they’ve maintained and had growth in their userbase regardless of market sentiment. This experience is insanely valuable and will for sure come in handy when hardships hit.

Who are their backers?

Roadmap

Thoughts on the roadmap

Splinterlands has several things coming up in 2022 and beyond. First up is the new ranked format, which will make the new Chaos Legion cards even more relevant.

In the current ranked mode, you can use cards from all card editions. If you can afford it, you can flesh out your deck quite well, but the older cards which are in a limited supply are becoming quite costly on the secondary market. If you have access to a lot of these older cards, you have an advantage in the number of different decks you can play.

However, with the new Chaos Legion cards, newer players who don’t have these older generations of cards will be able to compete with more even odds. The reason for this is that the “modern” ranked mode will consist of the past two editions. At the time of writing, this will be “Chaos” and “Untamed”, and the “Reward” cards that come with either of the two editions. The “wild” ranked mode will contain cards from all editions.

Land

For Q2 2022, they are planning to release land. This will, in our opinion, have the largest impact on the game so far. It will introduce a new way of playing the game.

From the details they’ve released, the land gameplay will introduce two new types of cards: the item and spell cards. When you play a game today, you can’t alter the course of battle after you’ve selected your team. However, when items and spells come into play, you will be able to react to the opponent’s team or strategy by using items or spells within a fixed time window and limited by a mana cost.

What will be so revolutionising with this update is that these items or spells won’t be sold in booster packs like summoners and monsters. They will be minted exclusively by players.

To mint these cards you will need to use buildings and resources gained from the land plots you own. This we suspect, will lead to a booming economy of items and spells, where the only way to acquire them is to mint them yourself or buy them from someone who has.

Splinterlands goes on to say that they will never sell item and spell cards. One thing that didn’t come across very clearly is if these items and spells are consumables and can be used only once, for a limited amount of time, or if they’re for permanent use. Either way, they will bring a lot of change to Splinterlands.

As with any other card in Splinterlands. These cards will have different rarities. The rarities will range from normal to legendary, and the impact they will have in a game is correlated to this rarity.

Land will also come in different sizes. Where the smallest one is a plot. Each plot of land has a terrain type, a category, and a rarity. The terrain type says something about what kind of land it is, what resources might be found, and which type of Splinter magic is best suited for that land.

In addition to a terrain type, each land will be in one of three categories: natural, magical, or occupied. On natural lands, you will find one of four natural resources, which you’re able to harvest or farm. Magical land will enable you to gather magical resources, which have a higher rarity than natural ones. Magical resources will be one of two components needed to mint item and spell cards.

The other component is monster essences, and they can be obtained by battling monsters that inhabit the third category of land plots: the occupied ones. As mentioned, there will also be a rarity related to these plots. And as with everything else, these also range from common to legendary. The rarity tells us how abundant the resources will be on the land plot.

Buildings

In order to retrieve resources from the land, you must erect buildings on it. Only one building can occupy a land plot at any time, and there will be different types of buildings available, each with different purposes. Buildings will require resources to build, upgrade and maintain. And levelling up a building will improve its productivity. The process of building will also take time, which also increases with each level. To boost this process one can spend DEC, and the DEC used for this will be burned.

In addition to having buildings on the plots, one would in most cases need someone to work in these buildings in order to produce something. Queue your CP filler monsters and summoners. Depending on the splinter of these cards, some of them will be better suited to working with their specific building or land plot. An example of this would be that fire splinter monsters and summoners would yield more resources on a mountainous terrain than on a lake.

Finally, there are two types of buildings which are special. This is the castle and the keep. Both of which are pre-existing on certain plots of land and these cannot be removed. There will be perks of owning such a building or owning land in its surrounding area. Each region, which holds 1000 plots of land, will only have one plot with a castle, and nine plots with a keep.

Splintershards Release schedule

Source: https://sps.splinterlands.com/release-schedule

Roadmap summary

To summarise, the use of owning land is to mint the new item and spell cards, which then again is used in the PVP battles we know today. When minting items and spell cards, you will not be able to choose exactly which card you want, but when minting there will be randomness based on several factors at play. As with erecting buildings, minting items and spells will take time. And it can be sped up with the burning of DEC.

Finally, there is one last element that needs to be introduced, and it is “Totems”. In short, they will be tradeable NFTs just like monsters and summoners, and they can be placed in buildings to give certain benefits. An example of this might be to speed up the time of minting cards in the fire splinter, increase the time of harvesting some resources, or reduce the maintenance cost of a farm building. As with everything else, they have rarities ranging from common to legendary. To begin with, totems will only be available as prizes in the Splinterlands Land Raffle.

Another key point to mention is SPS ranked Battle rewards in the SPS Whitepaper release schedule, which can of course be changed, but it’s there and once live will be huge for the overall earning potential for the game.

Source: https://peakd.com/splinterlands/@splinterlands/splinterlands-land-expansion-details?ref=tehox

When should Balthazar look to launch into this game?

We launched in Splinterlands in January 2022.

Longevity

Splinterlands has survived since 2018, lived through multiple bear markets, holds a huge loyal use-base, which has been growing. An engaging game with good depth which is actually fun to play. Short ranking seasons (12-16 days) keep you coming back to test your skills against the ever-growing player base.

Features


Delegation: Yes, built-in without profit-share function

Staking: Yes

Which functionality does the game have?

  • Great marketplace system, and third-party marketplaces like peakmonsters, monstermarket, and cardauctionz. We prefer peakmonsters, but there are some options.
  • There is a built-in rental mechanic as well, which allows you to rent out cards on the marketplace. You can set your own price, and manage each card individually. The 3rd party tool Peakmonsters allows you to have a more effective interface.

Whitepaper


Our thoughts on the Whitepaper

The Splinterlands Whitepaper is not for the faint of heart. The game’s true complexity is reflected in the breadth of the Whitepaper, which is not an easy task. But we can testify that they succeeded. The Whitepaper goes in-depth and extensively through every part of gameplay, cards, rewards, in-game guilds, tokenomics, and land. In addition, there is information about the platform, community, and the company behind the game.

However, we have one big issue with the Whitepaper, which is the lack of clear and concise earnings information across rankings. We’d love to have more clarity around expected daily-weekly-monthly earnings in the respective ranks. Currently, it’s extremely difficult to find proper information on expected earnings, and you mostly have to rely on play-testing or guesstimating battle earnings + loot chest values. We believe this is definitely a key point for Splinterlands to include or update in the future.

Growth implications

Splinterlands is currently, and has for a long time been, the game with the highest number of unique wallet users. They’ve had immense growth, especially since July 2021 when user statistics started skyrocketing. With this huge success in user growth, we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the value of DEC, and therefore earnings. This is a key growth implication that Splinterlands needs to convincingly figure out. We are hopeful that Splinterlands finds better ways to maintain earnings or change earnings altogether.

Statistics

Dappradar statistics

Socialnomics

Social media followers count

Discord: 114.4K

Twitter: 25.2K

Telegram: 25.3K

Facebook: 12.1K

Twitter activity and social engagements

The Splinterlands Twitter account is very active and is pumping out tweets several times a day.

On February 16, 2022, they announced a partnership with the rapper, recording artist, and reality tv start Waka Flocka Flame. They will release a new summoner card to the game in a limited supply. It is a legendary death summoner with the poison ability. You can see the looks of the cards below, both in regular and gold foil:

Read more about this partnership here.

Social statistics

From LunarCrush we can see the social activity regarding Splinterlands in the image below.

Speculation and connecting the dots


One could speculate a lot of how things are going to be in the future of Splinterlands. The information in the Whitepaper and other articles within the community contain enough information to keep the most avid researchers on their toes. But we couldn’t look away from the fact that on the team list we found Ric Hogerheide, which has been hired as “eSports Marketing Manager”.

At Balthazar, we are very interested in games that can provide the competitive aspect of esports. We already know that Splinterlands is highly competitive, and we would love to see this facet of the game grow more and reach a larger scene. We believe the incentives for higher-end competitive play will come to fruition as land plots are released, and the players will have more options and utility with item and spell cards.

In the Splinterlands Town Hall meeting which took place on the February 16, 2022, Aggroed mentioned that in the past six months they’ve grown from a team of 15 to a team of 100 employees. They are now looking into hiring 15-50 more.

Growing that fast, and hiring a lot of new talent will undoubtedly help speed up the process of getting new content out, and deal with current issues in the game ecosystem.

Game outlook


Short-term outlook

We are bearish on earning until new ranked modes and the additions of SPS earning are live, as well as when the Chaos pack decks are sold out.

As of now, they are about halfway through the stock of Chaos decks. And once sold out, we expect overall values to increase. But until then, or until markets overall turn upwards again, there is nothing we can see that would immediately increase the value of DEC. The SPS airdrop phase is still going strong, and the SPS earnings through winning games are rumoured to not be released until the airdrop phase is over.

Long-term outlook

We have a Bullish long-term view with new ranked modes and SPS earning through ranked play.

New ranked modes will enable newer players to compete on a higher level, as their limited decks (Chaos Legion) will matter more. Now you can use cards from all “generations”, and most of those cards are not obtainable anymore except through secondary markets, where the price is high because of the scarcity. These older cards give unfair advantages in competitive play to those who were early and have fleshed-out decks. Whereas a new player who joined the game during Chaos Legion will be limited to Chaos Legion cards and the new reward cards. So to stay competitive today in this ranked mode, high investment is needed to buy the “good” cards second-hand.

The new ranked mode will accommodate the newer players and will be limited to the past two generations of cards, and reward cards associated with that generation. This will mean that you can use Chaos, and Untamed cards, with a drizzle of the reward cards related to these releases. This in turn will cater to more players being able to compete on a fair stage with an affordable entry. We believe this will increase adoption and an active player base.

In the coming quarters of 2022, the roadmap states that they will release a new map and land. The impact of these releases will undoubtedly affect the games in a positive manner, as it brings in more features, and builds on the already existing gameplay.

Bear market resiliency

Splinterlands is one of the OG p2e games and has fought themselves through many bear markets, they’ve bounced back on every occasion and to this day still, show impressive growth regardless of declining earnings for their players. Splinterlands build during bear markets and they’ve shown that they survive them, giving ease of mind to their investors, community, and player base.

Overview of earning potential


Average cost of a team

Low cost: Silver III rank = US$112

Medium cost: Gold III rank = US$730

High cost: Diamond = US$1,810

Super high cost: Champion = US$3,610

The Summoner’s Spellbook (Starter Pack) is a one-time upgrade of US$10 and is required to begin earning rewards and access all functionalities of Splinterlands. This means that this upgrade will always be connected to an earning account.

Rank in Splinterlands is restricted to rating and the total amount of Collection Power (CP) an account holds. Collection power is equal to the combined Dark Energy Crystal (DEC) burn values of all cards that you currently own on the account.

Each league has three tiers, which each has a rising rating requirement achieved through winning matches and a rising Collection Power (CP) requirement. As we want to judge costs we have to look at the required CP for the different ranks. Examples:

  • Bronze II (first ranking to provide battle earnings) requires 1000+ CP
  • Silver III (currently used ranking for our scholars) requires 15,000+ CP
  • Gold III Requires 100,000+ CP
  • Diamond III Requires 250,000+ CP
  • Champion Requires 500,000+ CP

In order to calculate minimum costs for the necessary CP, we’ve taken a look at some of the cheapest available high CP cards available on the market to get an indication of cost per 125CP as that’s what Common Gold Foil gives each in CP.

Looking at the market at the time of writing, there is a good amount of 125CP cards between US$0.80-1.00. So for the case of simplicity let’s average it to US$0.90 per 125CP.

That gives us these minimum costs for necessary CP:

  • Bronze II – 1000/125 = 8 cards with 125CP needed. 8×0.9 = US$7.20
  • Silver III – 15,000/125 = 120 cards with 125CP needed. 108×0.9 = $102
  • Gold III – 100,000/125 = 800 cards with 125CP needed. = 800×0.9 = US$720
  • Diamond III – 250,000/125 = 2000 cards with 125CP needed = 2000×0.9 = US$1,800
  • Champion – 500,000/125 = 4000 cards with 125CP needed = 4000×0.9 = US$3,600

However, the higher rank you go, the more you will be dependent on actual good playable cards in order to maintain or increase your ranking and win games. So the actual costs for Gold and above are quite a bit higher as you would need good cards in multiple different splinters.

For example, to have an account in Silver III you would need a minimum of US$102 in cards for Collection Power and The Summoner’s Spellbook which costs US$10. So in total, we are looking at US$112 minimum. This also means that you are utilising the free rotations cards instead of owning the playable cards, of course with some potential overlap from the CP cards you purchased.

Average earnings per team

There are multiple earning mechanisms in Splinterlands, primarily through airdrops, staking, battle earnings, and loot chests from daily quests, and upon finishing a season. For this earning overview, we will only look at battle earnings, daily quest loot chest, and end of deason reward loot chest over the course of a 14-day season.

The following excerpt is from the Splinter Whitepaper:

Chests are the main form of reward that is earned from both daily quests and at the end of each season. They may contain potion charges, cards, various amounts of DEC, booster packs, or land (when available).

From Daily Quest play, the number of Loot Chests awarded is determined by the player’s current League. After each season, they are awarded a number of Chests that corresponds to their final League of play.

  • Potions (33%) – Loot Chests containing potions are divided equally into Legendary and Alchemy potions.
  • Cards (33%) – All Reward edition cards currently in print are found exclusively in Loot Chests.
  • DEC (33%) – Loot Chests can also contain various quantities of DEC. The amount of DEC found in a Loot Chest is similar to the rarity drop rates of opening booster packs and based on the DEC burn rates.
  • Booster Packs (1%) – Booster packs from the current set being sold can sometimes be found in Loot Chests.
  • Land Plots – Land plot claims can also be discovered in Loot Chests, but they are limited by availability and they are rare.

In summary, higher rankings have better content and give a higher amount of daily and season-end loot chests.

So let’s take a look at expected earnings in loot chests alone:

  • Bronze II – 1 Daily + 7 End of Season = 21 chests per 14 day season. Chest value = $0.084. 14 Day earn = 21 Chest = $1.764 / $0.126 Daily
  • Silver III – 2 Daily + 12 End of Season. Chest value: $0.126 . 14 Day earn: 40 Chest = $5.04 / $0.36 Daily
  • Gold III – 6 Daily + 22 End of Season. Chest value: $0.155. 14 Day earn: 106 Chest = $16.43 / $1.1736 Daily
  • Diamond III – 10 Daily + 40 End of Season. Chest value: $0.185. 14 day earn: 180 Chest = $33.3 / $2.379 Daily
  • Champion – 16 Daily + 80 End of Season. Chest value: $0.215. 14 Day earn: 304 Chest = $65.36 / $4.669 Daily

Battle earnings are WAY harder to estimate as there are several factors affecting the amount of DEC players earn per win:

  • For each ranked battle won, players earn various amounts of Dark Energy Crystals based on several variables.
  • League – The higher the League of play, the more DEC are earned per win.
  • DEC Capture Rate – With every battle won, a player’s DEC capture rate diminishes slightly, reducing the amount of DEC they are able to earn. This rate is recharging at a rate that is similar to HIVE voting power.
  • Win Streak – Players earn more DEC per win when that win is part of a winning streak (3 or more in a row).
  • Set and Foil Bonuses – Players earn 10% more DEC for every Alpha card played in each battle, and 10% more for every Gold Foil card played.
  • Guild Bonuses – There is a set DEC bonus for members of a Guild that depends on the level of their Guild Hall.

Source: Splinterlands Whitepaper

Based on our testing in Silver III, the average daily earning including daily loot boxes and 14-day season rewards end somewhere between 120-150DEC average per day, which = US$0.40-0.50 per day. Based on our loot chest calculation, this means we have been earning an average of US$0.09 daily through winning battles.

Earnings in Gold III and higher rankings we sadly do not have actual play-tested info, and it’s near impossible to give good estimates, as you would need a dynamic resource that reads what actual earnings are from players, as it changes daily.

Our guesstimate would be that we should be able to expect to correlate earning growth with the cost of participating in the higher rankings. Gold III is 6.666-times more expensive than Silver III to reach. So for the battle earnings, we should be able to expect equally higher earnings than what we had in Silver, which was US$0.09, meaning in Gold III it would be something like US$0.60 per day. This is likely to be higher however, but again, almost impossible to have clear and concise information on this as it fluctuates so much.

Airdrop 160 days remaining as of February 16, 2022:

“400M SPS tokens, or 13.33% of the total token supply, will be airdropped to players based upon the amount and type of Splinterlands assets held in their account. Rather than have a specific airdrop date/time with a snapshot as is common, SPS tokens will be airdropped to asset holders on a daily basis over a 1-year period. The goal is to encourage players to accumulate and hold Splinterlands assets over a longer period rather than having a big rush up until the snapshot followed by a dump shortly afterwards.”SPS Whitepaper

  • Bronze II – 1000CP = 14 SPS over the next 160 days
  • Silver III – 15,000CP = 205 SPS over the next 160 days
  • Gold III – 100,000CP = 1368 SPS over the next 160 days.
  • Diamond III – 250,000 CP = 3419 SPS over the next 160 days.
  • Champion – 500,000 CP = 6838 SPS over the next 160 days.

Source: https://www.splintercards.com/tool-sps-airdrop.html

Yield Calculation

A summary of the varying team costs, earnings, and yields are displayed in the table below:

TeamCost (USD)Loot chests (daily)Battle earnings (daily)SPS airdrop (daily)Total earnings (annualised)YieldYield (excluding airdrop)
Bronze 2$7.20$0.126$0.01$0.01$52.78733%671%
Silver 3$102$0.36$0.09$0.18$229.72225%161%
Gold 3$720$1.1736$0.64$1.20$1,097.15152%92%
Diamond 3$1,800$2.379$1.59$2.99$2,539.98141%80%
Champion$3,600$4.669$3.18$5.98$5,047.48140%80%

Risks-to-earnings potential

  • The biggest risk to an investor’s yield, as displayed in the table above, relates to the cessation of SPS airdrops.
  • With respect to earnings from the game itself, it’s difficult to reduce earning potential. Most projects in the pipeline are looking to make things better. Burn mechanics in the creation of new cards like items and spells must be minted by community, and the process of gathering resources for that will also involve burning of DEC. They have made changes to content % in loot chests before to combat bot accounts in low rankings. This is also why Silver III is an important ranking, as this is the first ranking where loot chest content improves.

Historic and imminent (announced) changes to earnings potential

  • The change to the ranking format, which will exclude older cards from participating in the new ranking system, evens the odds for newer players in the new ranked format. This could make our scholars more competitive in their respective rank. In essence, there is a new ranked mode coming, which only allows newer card releases, that have different overall CP and stats than the older releases. When a new player enters the game and wants to buy packs of cards, the only available packs today are from the newest release, and the older card releases are quite a lot more expensive to purchase individually on the market. This means that the newer cards which seemingly now seem weaker will have their own ranked mode among themselves where the older, stronger cards are not allowed.
  • Burn mechanics are announced to come with the release of land.

Risks to the in-game appeal (value) of an NFT

  • Nerfs and buffs would obviously impact the appeal. Though most cards have their different roles in a build, and the more fleshed out of a deck you have, the better. We don’t know about any upcoming scenarios where a specific card gets targeted, but the cards are subject to change.

Burning of reward tokens

  • Combining cards to a higher level “burns” the cards, and their related burn value, but you’re still left with a higher value card. So how it impacts the overall DEC price is hard to see.
  • There are, as mentioned, things coming for this, but not here yet (i.e. lands).

Tokenomic similarities

  • Splinterlands has very unique tokenomics, and as such, it is difficult to compare the strategy to other games to predict future success. One thing we find unique is splinterland’s reverse burn/ For example, burning cards to create new DEC, rather than burning the reward token (DEC) to create new cards (or NFTs), which is essentially breeding, being more common amongst play-to-earn games.

Scholars

Is the game playable in the scholarship model?

  • Yes. There is a built-in delegation system, the owner can delegate cards and collection power through the in-game solutions, and keep the cards in their own custody, but the scholar will be able to use the cards for battle, and utilise the collection power for ranking.
  • There is no profit share functionality as of yet, so the scholar will get all the DEC rewards from the winnings. A scholar/manager partnership would have to figure out how they want to share this manually.

What is its earning potential for a scholar?

  • Currently very low, because of the price of the earning token. But we look at the future with optimism based on new ranked modes and the ability to also earn SPS (the governance token) through ranked play.

Is the security setup for renting NFTs to scholars?

  • Yes and it’s very secure as everything is handled by the game’s delegation system. Although there is no pre-made profit-share system, so we will have to build this out ourselves.

Delegations?

  • The delegation system could be easily managed either in-game, or through Peakmonsters. It is still limited to delegating a set of cards to only one account at the time, and there is no automation for scale as of yet.

Cost to deploy one scholar?

  • To begin earning, each individual account must purchase an item called Spellbook, which costs US$10. After buying the Spellbook, you can begin earning through the game once you have a high enough ranking. This is even without buying any cards, as you can utilise free rotation cards. Although the time needed to earn your way to enough CP to rank up without buying them is too extensive and therefore not feasible.
  • Ultimately, the cost to deploy scholars depends on the ranking you want to achieve, as the game’s ranking is tied to your player’s CP. Currently, the lowest worthwhile rank to go for is Silver III, which needs 15,000 CP. Buying 15,000 CP will cost you around US$120, but you are purely buying the CP needed, and you will have free rotation cards, which will make it more difficult, but not impossible to rank up.
  • If we include playable cards as well it really depends on the strategy you are following, and the cost can be anything from zero to endless.

Conclusion

After reading our report on Splinterlands, you can now understand the depth of this game. We see it as a success story in NFT gaming, as the game has been around since 2018 and continues to strengthen. The game has kept on growing, even in periods when it’s not even worth mentioning yields. Splinterlands has a solid player base and it is the largest NFT game today, based on user statistics. Many NFT games today lack the most important thing in a game, and that is to be engaging and entertaining. This can not be said about Splinterlands, as the game is fun to play, competitive, and you have to put in an effort to reach the top. We believe this is one of the reasons it has thrived for so long, and just kept growing. This is why Balthazar has begun to deploy our Wizards in the game.

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