Sooooo I need to drop a couple of $.01 here in response to the giant Facebook "open discussion" thread where I'm not allowed to participate. I obviously can't stop Bowen from responding to this, but do respectfully ask that he not respond here to this. I would prefer to just say my peace on some of this and move on.
I have no problem with anyone opposing this direction we are taking with the IFPA. I've had tons of emails and chats with people on both sides of the issue, agreed to disagree with some people while also convincing some people that what we're doing can and will be beneficial for the sport.
I won't bother addressing some of the misinformation in Bowen's post along with the 300+ comments, except for the one issue that I just can't get past . . . and that's Bowen's stance of boycotting IFPA over this issue (before it's even been enacted) while speaking up in support of what PAPA has done with the direction of the PAPA Circuit even if it's something he didn't personally agree with.
He was asked this repeatedly on Facebook and copy/pasted his response. I felt it was easiest for me to just 'respond to it'. First my thoughts on what exactly the Circuit is now doing, with no disrespect to the PAPA crew because we're doing the same thing. We're taking a bunch of money from the 99% . . . and paying the top 1% (not really that extreme, but something along these lines).
With all the 'what would the numbers have been' analysis that I've seen with the SCS, using 2016 data, I felt it was only fair to see 'what would the numbers have been' had the 2016-17 PAPA Circuit season been run with the $5 fee in action.
There were 1515 players that participated in one of the 20 PAPA Circuit events last season. The top 40 moved on for a chance at the money. This equates to 97.4% of the players funding the top 2.6% of the players.
Now similar to the SCS analysis, the actual number isn't that severe because the more Circuit events you play in, the more likely you are to be one of those 40 finalists. There were obviously a ton of casual players that played in their 'local Circuit event' or Pinburgh, and that was it for them (more on that later).
If you dive into the actual money that would have been generated by the Circuit last season, there were roughly 2100 'total players' from all the events, generating $10,500 in fees. For example, Bob Matthews played in 10 events, so he would be counted 10 times in that 2100 number. Of those 2100 total players, the top 40 finalists accounted for 195 of those players ($975). This means that 91% of the players funded the top 9% who were the finalists. This ends up being very similar to the SCS payout structure where we had roughly 10,000 players and paid out 752 finalists (92.5% of the players funded the top 7.5%).
Ultimately, IMO, it's the same strategy at play.
So let's get to Bowen's compare/contrast of the SCS vs. Circuit, and I can allow myself to answer his opinions with my opinions.
"I see the Circuit as different from WPPR, due to its size and the event nomination and selection process. The $5/fee for Circuit players is not something I agreed with, but it is balanced by an additional prize (a unique winner's medal) and with the fact that PAPA had been paying subsidies to Circuit tournament prize pools for several years."
To claim that a unique winner's medal somehow rationalizes this being okay for PAPA makes me scratch my head a bit. The winner of the medal is already one of the 1%'ers, so that medal is being funded by the 99%. I could easily argue that we provide 40 State Championship trophies a year, along with the trophies for Nationals and maybe call this a draw?
No doubt that PAPA has been paying subsidies to the Circuit for years. I always joke that my favorite pinball money is winning "Kevin's Money" because I've never understood how someone can be so f*cking generous with this player base. IMO what PAPA did in the past has no bearing on whether them taking from the 91% to fund the top 9% is good for the sport. If PAPA somehow earned brownie points for that generosity, I could easily argue that we've been subsidizing the World Pinball Player Rankings for the past 11 years. We've never asked anyone for a dime, and I can tell you that on our tax return for 2016 we took in $9700 in sponsorship money, and spent $10,600 in expenses. Fortunately, we had a surplus of funds from the previous year, because unlike Kevin I'm not CRAZY and don't plan on spending a dime of my own money on this player base (love all you guys . . . really . . . just not THAT MUCH). Ultimately it comes down to the fact that the PAPA Circuit is no longer free, and WPPR's are also no longer free.
"I completely understand why events might choose not to be part of Circuit. The equivalent choice for IFPA would be to have tournaments opt in to pay the tournament fee to be part of the State Championship rankings. Considering that tournaments can run for free in Europe, this would be the competitively balancing thing to do. Instead, tournaments in the U.S. or Canada that do not pay the fee will be excluded from WPPR altogether."
Bowen defends the right for an event to simply not apply for the Circuit if they don't agree with the fees.
This allows one of two things to happen:
1) TD is interested in being a Circuit event where they don't care that the fees are being taken from the bottom 91% to fund the top 9%. This takes all power away from the players who may not agree with this funding strategy. They are forced to make one of two decisions. One is hold your nose and participate regardless. The other is to boycott and not play. A majority of those 1515 players only played in one Circuit event, and it's no surprise that it was Pinburgh. I can't imagine someone being put in this situation of being forced to be part of this 91% fund the top 9% in order to participate in Pinburgh, with the only other option being that they are welcome not to play.
2) A TD can boycott this "91% fund the 9%" and opt out of being part of the PAPA Circuit. What happens when a group of players is interested in being part of that Circuit?? Because of the opinions of solely that TD, they end up speaking for an entire player base.
For us, we don't believe that a TD should 'hold all the cards' if you will, with respect to a community's involvement in this SCS/WPPR campaign. This is why we've pushed TD's to use the opt-in/out at the player level if they have a community divided.
Ultimately though, it's the same process. TD's can decide to submit their tournament for inclusion on the Circuit/endorsement for WPPR/SCS, and then find their best path through the process. For most, it will be the "sneaky" way of doing this, and that's never letting the players know they are participating in this funding campaign, or at best case not shoving what's going on in people's faces. I can tell you at Pin-Masters the players had NO IDEA about this Circuit Fee. When asked how I was handling it, I said we were sponsoring it out of our 2017 IFPA budget. At Pinburgh I would hazard a guess that a majority of the 800 participants have no idea about this Circuit Fee. For the IFPA Pin-Masters next year, the $70 going to the IFPA will be much the same.
Bowen's biggest point has been the lumping in of WPPR's with this SCS campaign, and why we're taking WPPR's away 'from the people' who are so insanely interested, instead of just focusing on SCS as a separate entity.
A few quick comments on this . . .
1) Just personally, having Bowen refer to WPPR's as "website points" for the first good 6+ years of their existence (with no intent of disrespect of course) makes me chuckle, as we're now at the point that Bowen thinks they are so important 'to the people' that he's willing to openly boycott our Circuit-style strategy for WPPR 6.0.
2) There seems to be the opinion that the IFPA somehow "owes" the player base the right to WPPR's. It's our duty to never use the interest in WPPR's as leverage for something else, and the idea of exploiting the 91% to fund the 9% is unacceptable. We have offered the services of being part of the IFPA system at no charge for a long time. This has come at an incredible amount of expense (both financially and time based). Similar to PAPA subsidizing their Circuit in the past and no longer doing so . . . we're simply no longer subsidizing the right to WPPR's. If this 91% fund the 9% strategy isn't for you, then it's important to realize THAT'S OKAY. It's a completely valid opinion to have. With the announcement of the IFPA Challenge Matches yesterday, we're no doubt switching the focus of SCS/WPPR's to be more Circuit like, while continuing to offer our Ratings metric as the "for everyone" IFPA activity to be part of.
As for Europe still getting their WPPR's for free, there's actually a strategy there for the IFPA that helps us. There's a large group of players across Europe and Australia that have complained to us for years about the "World" Pinball Player Rankings being a joke. It's ultimately the "US" Pinball Player Rankings because of how advanced our competitive pinball scene is here compared to anywhere else . . . leading to the inherent rankings advantages that we have over anyone else. Continuing to subsidize Europe while forcing America to pay for WPPR's allows this discrepancy between access to endorsed events to shrink, making the world rankings a more true representation of the "world". Bowen had mentioned for the NEPL that they are forced to pay $700 for the right to capture all 3 seasons of data. That's over 130 WPPR's to the winner for the year at the current pace. For them to submit once per year was met with the response "but we only get 1/3 the points". Wellllll . . . that's true, and for helping this discrepancy between the US and 'everywhere else' that's not necessarily a bad thing. A local pinball league handing out 45 WPPR's per year helps that cause for the IFPA globally. Any restructuring of how results are submitted will do a ton to help bridge this divide for us in making IFPA a true global brand, while helping to limit these fees for the TD's here in the US.
That's it! I mostly just wanted to address Bowen's comment of:
"they (IFPA) are making a decision I feel will hurt the community at large for the benefit of elite players. So I am out." . . . while PAPA makes an extremely similar decision and is met with personal disagreement from Bowen but continued support nonetheless.
Back to everyone's regularly scheduled programs, while looking forward to some more great IFPA stuff. I dare ask the question how badly can PAPA and IFPA destroy competitive pinball if we actually work TOGETHER on something . . . something tells me we're going to find out real soon