XBOT's stance on Battle helper (Proposal 8470)
In case you're out of the loop, there's a new proposal seeking to change Splinterlands Terms of Service and prohibit the use of Battle Helper.
In this post we'll go over risks and downsides of this proposal, and steel-man the case against it.
Please note that we provide a battle helper service and may have a bias. We try to maintain objectivity and impartiality in this post.
Enforcement is not feasible
Battle helpers can be built in a way that is undetectable because they only provide data and don't perform actions. They also don't need to communicate with APIs.
Since the tool doesn't interact with the game directly, it's not directly detectable. Indirect detection with behavioural analysis and other statistical methods could work in theory, but it's not realistic.
In the world of Chess and "solvers" (their equivalent of battle helper), Chess.com employs 20 fair-play team members.
Levelling the playing field
It's well known that some individuals and guilds have private battle helpers. Until very recently, they dominated tournaments and brawls.
Public battle helper services give the advantage back to the community and level the playing field.
This proposal is only affecting public services because there's no enforcement - and it's giving the advantage to private battle helper users.
Public vs Private
ToS change without enforcement will only change who is providing the service.
As a public service, XBOT has cooperated with the community many times and maintained a good reputation.
- We voluntarily added the [NH] tag, which can be added to tournaments and stops our battle helper from running.
- We accommodated a request from a community member who didn't want battle helper used in challenge mode for a period of time.
- We informed the Splinterlands team about a game mechanic that gives battle helper an unfair advantage
If the proposal goes through, public services will be replaced by private ones that have no incentive to cooperate.
Demand for gameplay assistance
Whether it's a Champion leaderboard player looking for an edge, or a casual Gold league player who wants to play decent teams, Battle Helper is continuously getting used for a reason.
Both groups are using the tool because that's how they enjoy playing the game.
One of Splinterlands core values has always been decentralisation and inclusivity. We strongly believe that everyone should be allowed to play the game how they want to.
The role of skill in Splinterlands
How important should skill be in Splinterlands?
How much more should a skilled player earn compared to a casual player?
Are casual players (and investors) going to be interested in Splinterlands if they can only earn a tiny fraction of what skilled players can earn?
A competitive player should definitely earn more than a casual one, and the human-only modern ranked league might have achieved this already. The problem with prohibiting gameplay assistance is that it skews the incentives too much in favour of skilled players and pushes casual players (and investors) out.
Many casual players are casual players for practical reasons. Their lifestyle doesn't allow them to invest hundreds of hours into gameplay strategy. While a battle helper ban might encourage some to learn the game, the majority won't.
This proposal is forcing casual player to either invest a lot more time into the game or quit.
We think that battle helper is offering a necessary middle-ground for this part of the community.
There's other problems with the proposal, such as definitions being too broad, the timing being too close to another major change, and not mentioning Pro's/Con's/Risks and implementation details, but we decided to keep the post (relatively) short.
If you agree with our position, please consider voting NO on proposal #8470