Rewards and Bounties Spending - Daylight Robbery

Day 5,957, 14:00 Published in United Kingdom United Kingdom by Mr Woldy


Last month Betafoxtrot asked me to take a look at the expenditure and alternative approaches to the eUK fighting rewards system. The policy that came from that was a single fighting offering bolstered by an ‘eUBI’, but you can read more about that here.

Some of the figures I compiled and reviewed in relation to the Ground and Air reward schemes were quite surprising. As such I have spent some days compiling the data for the rewards issued between December and March, and following a tip off have also requested and reviewed the information on the eUK’s bounties/hunt the hunter/open season/DVS special reward (who even knew that one was a thing!).

The bottom line of this review is that the rewards systems and bounties are not delivering value for money, do not appear to be achieving their objectives (which I have always understood to be, supporting and encouraging fighting) and are only succeeding in moving large amounts of the eUK’s tax income to a small number of accounts. They need to be made dramatically fairer.

At no point does this article intend to criticise those who claim rewards - go for it. There’s no reason not to if they are on offer. However, this article does intend to question why the policies are the way they are and highlight how unfair the current policies are, and how many people pay for the benefit of so few.

The analysis that follows refers to the months December through to March, for the purpose of this review these are not calendar months but are aligned to the payments of rewards, i.e. they are four week periods from mid November to mid March. All references to income or taxable income are based on the eUK’s tax revenue. We return TW income and this is the bulk of our income. The low amount of money from concessions and any income from MM trading are not factored in, but they are not large enough to materially alter the findings of this report. Furthermore, as ground rewards are paid in guns I have used 80cc per unit as the price to calculate the cash equivalent of ground rewards. This is lower than the average price for the period reviewed.

Enjoy and please contribute to the discussion by commenting below.

Air and Ground rewards

The two biggest things I would draw attention to in relation to the Air and Ground rewards are that in terms of actual pay-outs they send a significant chunk of our tax-based income (over half of it) to a small group of players. Additionally, the claim-rate for rewards is not very high, which means that those who seemingly need support and encouragement are in fact missing out, whilst those who to all extents and purposes do not appear to need support and encouragement are receiving hundreds of thousands of CC a year.

This shows the allocated rewards distributed across all qualifying fighters;

As a reminder, Air Rewards is based on 6cc per kill capped at 15,000cc; and Ground Rewards is based on 5% of your kills being issued as Q7 guns capped at 125 guns (valued at 10,000cc). I do not think there should be two different schemes, I think one kills based on would suffice (see the bottom of the article for some suggestions). This does however cause a small injustice as it does mean Air kills pay more than Ground kills. This may be desirable if, in principle, people are to be pushed toward air - but I think a better principle is people play how they want and are rewarded equitably for their fighting.

The chart itself somewhat unsurprisingly shows that the most rewards go to people with the most kills, which in itself is not particularly unfair. But the size of the reward pots is where things start to go a bit wonky (there are already hints of this in the above in the steepness of the graph). But before getting to that, there is another factor to build into our understanding of how reward money is used - claiming. The next cart is as above, but shows only those who actually received their award by commenting on the relevant article.

When taking the data for December-March as a whole, 111 people (yes really!) qualified for a reward on one or both of the schemes. 52 people claimed their reward - less than half. To my mind the first question this raises is what work is going on to promote the scheme and to encourage people engage with the articles… but there is a second larger question. If the rewards programs are to encourage activity and kills, and the Government accepts the general ethos of not telling people how to play, why do we require people to comment at all? If there allocation is calculated, why not send it to them. They have done the kills just as anyone else, if they miss the article (or don’t read them) it seems punitive to not issue them a reward which is billed as being for fighting, not for commenting. Likewise a threshold to reach before getting anything is counter-intuitive.

The most-rewarded players never miss a beat on claiming their rewards, which means those players less engaged with the media or less ‘active’ generally (i.e. those who may need encouragement and support from the rewards!) get nothing, whilst the actual distribution of awards across qualifying citizens skewed more in favour of the very very active (and less in need of encouragement). This can be seen below, the top 10 fighters by reward value are allocated around one third of the reward pot (which you may say is already too high - wait until you see the numbers!) but when claiming is taken into account this grows.

So to run through what we can observe so far;

- The top 10 rewarded players have received the equivalent value (CC and Guns) of 44% of the funds spent on rewards.

- The remaining 56% is shared between 42 players.

- 49 qualifying players received nothing.

If we take this in the fiscal context of the eUK, the figures become slightly more shocking. During the period covered by these rewards, the tax-based income of the eUK was £6,425,860.00. “Not bad!” you may think, but the value of rewards received by the ten most-rewarded players in that same period was £3,439,260. Over half of our tax income went to ten players via rewards (it goes to less players when considering bounties too). I do not believe this can be justified, and is a sure sign that the rewards system as it is, is inequitable and too expensive.

So to recap where we are - the Air and Ground rewards scheme have paid over half the eUK tax income to ten players, with a further 42 players getting the rest of the reward pot and 49 qualifying players having received nothing. You might be worried about how expensive this all is - and you would be right to. Buckle in though because the worst is yet to come!

I mentioned above that of the funds spent on the scheme, 43.7% is spent on those top ten players. I have also just mentioned that those same funds sent to those same ten people was over 53% of our tax-income (53.5% to be precise). You don’t have to be Pythagoras to know that means it is costing more than our taxes bring in. The below shows the proportions of the tax income for the period, and the congress donates made to fund the schemes, which went to the top 10 players and everyone else;

Uh oh! Whilst this considers tax income alone, the total spend on both the rewards program for the period examined was £7,865,990.00. As a reminder our tax income was £6,425,860.00. - over 1.4 million pounds less than the cost of the rewards, a gap difficult to make up via MM trading, and the money that comes in via our concession agreement does not touch the sides (as it were). The rewards scheme cost 122% of the eUK’s income between December and March, and exceeded the eUK’s tax income in every month but March where we had a nice spike in import tax to save us.

You’ll also note in the above that the scheme is costing more than the donations Congress has made to the orgs which fund it. This highlights how useful it is to have dedicated orgs which Congress can donate directly to as it allows for an easy comparison of what has gone in, and what has gone out. The donation schedules approved by Congress and budget requests made by the Government don’t directly align with these reward periods, however the ‘ask’ for these reward pots is usually two donates per program a term, four in total. Taken as a whole (I can disaggregate the data for those interested) that means £6,400,000.00 was requested to fund these schemes - 99.6% of the eUK’s tax income.

So far we have seen that:
- Ten players received the equivalent of over half our tax income via the rewards scheme.

- The rewards scheme is costing more than our tax income.

- Lots of players miss out due to not commenting (or in fact don't qualify in the first place!)

Remember when I said it gets worse? The Government also runs a bounty program, whereby desired actions on the battlefield are rewarded (more or less). For the purpose of this section, I shall refer to bounties, hunt the hunter, open season, and the DVS special bounty that wingfield introduced, all simply as ‘bounties’.

For the same period covered throughout the report, December-March, the below was paid out in bounties. Do not adjust your screens, these figures are indeed in the millions.

These are staggering sums of cash - do they represent value for money? During the reporting period, £4,135,000.00 was paid across these programs. The biggest question of course is whether it is appropriate that such mind boggling sums are paid out to only five people … or if you’re being mean, just one person.

It is pretty obvious that extremely tight caps are needed on these programs to manage the cost, but also to prevent very small numbers of people benefiting disproportionately from the eUK’s income. I would actually suggest most of the programs here should be scrapped - very few people are using them and they are evidently exploitable. Hunt the hunter makes sense to me, but again needs a cap. As exciting as I am sure it was for 11ue to chase dvs39 around the country to police his medal snatching, rewarding him £800,000.00 to do it is objectively crackers and the result of poor policymaking - this particular policy seems to have flown under the radar as I cannot find any announcements in-game about how or why it came to be.

The Winners

The biggest winners (by a country mile!) are 11ue and Lucy28, who, between December and March were rewarded with £2,599,520.00 and £957,970.00 respectively. This is across Air, Ground and all the bounty programs.

This article is by no means a criticism of that, they have done well in their fighting and should get some rewards. However, the current programs distribute far too much money to the top end of the rewards table, and do not adequately support or encourage the overwhelming majority of players. In other words, they reward a small number of players a disproportionate amount of our income.

The Losers

The rest of us are the losers. When factoring in bounties, 6 million cc of the eUK’s taxes went to just five individuals between December and March. So next time you hit the work buttons before heading to the battlefield, don’t forget your clown uniform!

Suggestions for a better, fairer rewards programs

In conversation with Huey who provided me with some of the data for this article, he mentioned that he had suggested some changes back in October.

I do not think these changes will help. Fundamentally what drives the inequity across the rewards offerings is the large caps. I would strongly recommend rolling both programs into one so ground and air are paid the same. I would also strongly recommend then lowering the cap. Here’s why:

- Over the last four months the most people to hit both caps (Air and Ground) in any one month was five players.

- As such, raising caps only benefits the same tiny group of players already earning lots from rewards.

- These will add a lot to the cost, as those players hammer the battlefield!

- As such, it will also mean that the distribution of funds across the qualifying population would still dramatically favour a tiny group of players.

Instead, a single offering with a higher price-per-kill and slightly lower cap would mean that the spend across the rewarded population would be more equal, whilst still reflecting how many kills people have.

When I ran the data for Beta’s manifesto (which proposed a fighter reward of 10cc per kill, capped at £10,000.00, and a Universal package of £5,000.00 to those who earned a low amount of exp) I found that when applied to the qualifying population in January only 15 people (those at the top of the table) would be worse off. 7 of those 15 were worse off by less than 10k.

I actually thought Beta was being generous, albeit the spending there was nothing close to the spending across the bounties program. But for comparison a offering of a eUBI of £2,500.00 a month and fighting cap at £7,500.00 a month would be comparable to the spend on the current program:

However, the suggestion for UBI was that it would be paid without a claims process - i.e. automatically. So it would cost more. I suggest this approach be taken for fighter rewards because they are there to reward fighting, not commenting. The commenting is a cost saving measure (as seen above) and we should make sure the policy is running within our means rather than look for cost saving measures at the expense of our fighters. This would require a lower cap, but as mentioned, very few people hit those caps month on month!

Additionally we should challenge the thresholds needed to get any rewards. If we know people have earnt kills, why can’t we reward them? Would rewarding them not encourage them to do more? Excluding those fighting the least seems counter intuitive, they presumably would benefit from the support and encouragement at least as much as anyone else, if not more.

As such a universal, automatically paid rewards system should be what we reach for, and we should seek to distribute the reward funds more equitably across the population with a lower cap and higher pay per kill. That steep slope in the very first chart in this article should be much flatter, and we should stop funnelling funds towards a tiny number of citizens who do the most fighting (and as such get the most BH gold). We should even consider a fixed-cost approach, and paying rewards pro-rata based on a set budget. That would manage variability and escalating costs.

Lastly, I will vote yes on donations to the Ministry of Defence, Department of Munitions and Strategic Command so the government can pay its obligations this term. I will vote no from the start of next term, albeit I support their inclusion in donation schedules and the rights of others to vote how they please. However I won’t support the current programs without dramatic reform, as they appear grossly unjust and expensive to me. I will encourage my congress-colleagues to consider doing the same.

Mr Woldy