The Largest Bot Farm in Splinterlands will Suspend Operations
Unprofitable, Seemingly Defeated, and sitting on more than 32 Million in Collection Power
The beginning of the end for bot farms is here. No, it was not the idea of soulbound rewards cards to be implemented in the coming month(s). It was a matter of profitability, more importantly, the lack thereof. The "A-Team" is being suspended and likely sunsetted altogether if the words of their owner/operator are to be believed. This is cause for much celebration in the Splinterlands community as the bot farm that engaged in win trading and drove rewards cards prices into the dirt is stopping their operations. And left asking: "What now?"
The Conversation No One Expected
It was the investigator/prosecutor actually engaging with the perpetrator for all to see in Splinterlands Discord, not in Mavericks' House, but in The Tavern. It was an engagement that was completely ignored as other conversations were taking place, but it was the most important conversation to be had and nobody realized it until an hour later.
For those unfamiliar with "The A-Team" bot farm, below are a few articles detailing the operations of the largest bot farm in Splinterlands. This was a bot farm that was engaged in win trading and if you have purchased Rewards cards, you have likely purchased a card from this farm.
"The A-Team" had multiple seller accounts with a master account (anhdaden146) and a holding account (philip-do).
Summoning the Owner/Operator of "The A-Team"
Bringing attention to holding account of "The A-Team" to show how bot farms have a lot of assets to possibly dump resulted in an unexpected response and engagement.
Given this is Discord, one would think this is a troll. At first, it was dismissed as a troll, but searching history in Discord confirmed this was not a troll.
The Dismissal and Response
Looking Up the Account Confirmed That This Was the Owner/Operator of "The A-Team"
However, this came after 3:05 PM Eastern Time.
It Starts with Fronting, Coy Language, and Disbelief
This opening engagement was meant to stoke the ego and get him talking, mission accomplished.
He believes that I do not know how transparent his operation is and how well I know it. I am trying to keep my cards close to the vest because outright giving him answers may cause disengagement. I wanted to know if he was actually serious about shutting down and what he was going to do next. I also did not want him to know that I am the reason for his difficulties on September 9 (well, now you know!).
This question above is a trick question and I knew it because I have tracked his behavior. I was still in disbelief that the owner/operator of the most infamous bot farm was engaging with me.
My disbelief would continue and he continued to question my knowledge of his operations. I was not going to let him disengage because I wanted to know what he was going to do next.
I was not trying to make it a challenge about my knowledge of his operations, there was no point in having that sort of conversation, I was using my knowledge to keep him there and to get answers.
While this is all happening...
The largest bot farm operator is openly telling everyone he is suspending operations at the end of this season and nobody cares. The biggest force in the secondary marketplace, the lower levels of this game, and a major reason why so many new measures have been put into place is announcing the suspension of operations and nobody blinks an eye.
There are more statements made that are not surprising to anyone following "The A-Team".
He wants to create a group for bot farms in the Splinterlands Discord, which is an odd request. It is not hard to understand how "The A-Team" works and extracts from the game. While the strategies have changed over time, the structure has not changed outside of adding the comeout001 seller account.
Explaining "The A-Team's" Importance
"The A-Team" plays a large role in propping up the rental market. Those overpriced Level 1 Wave Broods are being rented by the bots of "The A-Team". Humans are not renting as many cards as these farming accounts. The impact of "The A-Team" going away will have repercussions.
The business model of the bot farm was pretty simple toward the end of the run. Renting cards to earn rewards cards with farming account, which will be quickly sold off on the market at the lowest prices by seller accounts. Unstake SPS and convert the SPS to SWAP.HIVE. Take the earned DEC from seller accounts, send it to anhdaden146, and convert it to SWAP.HIVE. Withdraw SWAP.HIVE.
With the "A-Team" gone, the rental market will be impacted and the owner/operator knows it.
Then there's the matter of Philip-Do
The Philip-Do account was a holding account used to delegate Collection Power in the form of maxed out in-print Rewards cards. These delegations would help farmer accounts clear any Collection Power barriers that existed and could be used in battles.
This account has over 33 million in Collection Power, what happens now? How do we try to get the most right out of a wrong?
The response concerned the investment and ecosystem involvement required to completely wreck the ecosystem. It takes two to tango, of course and the Splinterlands team is now dealing with the consequences of this as both founders will have to submit to investor terms and loss of equity of their own company in exchange for capital.
Last Chance to Do Something Right
We cannot turn back time, but we can at least try to salvage this situation so that the community can actually benefit in the end after so much was extracted.
The "A-Team" is not the only bot farm, but they are the largest and most impactful. Other bot farms will feel the pinch eventually as the business model will be harmed by further rewards nerfs and eventual Know Your Customer (KYC) measures. Asking for capital and bringing in new investors means there are conditions to the money, especially in this environment.
There will be capitulation.