Photo Finish | Economy Deep Dive

Third Time Dev
8 min readFeb 3, 2022


Early preview of some of our upcoming race graphics

Hello Racers, Investors, and Enthusiasts! This is Paul Nirenberg, Lead Systems Designer at Third Time. Today, we’d like to introduce you to some of the economic workings of our upcoming project, Photo Finish. We’ll be covering a few topics: Racing, Breeding, and Ownership so this should be a helpful window for anyone interested in the game. Lets start from…

The Basics

Photo Finish is a real money Horse Racing Game using a two token system to support different gameplay and monetization for its varying player base.

In one stream we have $DERBY, an inflationary currency that fuels many of the hands-on gameplay actions. Race purses, breeding costs, and horse purchases are all done in $DERBY. As future systems are added to the game (Think wagering, training, etc…) those will run on $DERBY too.

The second stream features $CROWN, a fixed supply Governance Token that provides control over the ownership side of the game. $CROWN fuels our DAO and allows broad minded players to participate in the Racing Season by investing in race tracks.

Together, they create a healthy system where different types of players (Racers, Breeders, Owners, etc…) can play and make a return from their preferred skill set.

So what do those skill sets look like and how do they make their money?


Racers are the meat of the game. They breed or buy horses, hunt down optimal races, and aim to make a killing on prizes. Each of a horse’s stats wax and wane at different distances, and Racers understand which stats are strongest at each length.

Racers double dip on rewards when they do well. The game’s genetic system passes good genes on to foals, and nothing proves good genes like a big win. Retiring a good racing horse isn’t the end of it’s career. Racers can sell their retired horses for hefty sums on the market where breeders search for the parents of the next generation of champions. For those looking for passive income streams, horses can be put on the Stud Market for a fixed fee or a percent based Foal Share Agreement.

Racer Skills:

  • Learn which race stats excel at each distance
  • Identify horses with good stat combinations and races to match their strengths
  • Deduce hidden stats and preferences (Turn, Track, Condition) from a horse’s race history

Racer Income:

  • Win, Place, or Show in races to collect race purses
  • Demonstrate horse value through wins and sell those winners for breeding
  • Put winners on the Stud Market to collect breeding fees and ownership royalties

We created a few sample models of what ROI might look like in the $DERBY economy based on a few possible win rates of a horse. Some details about our model:

  • This sample model assumes that the horse runs once every 2 days over a 6 month period (equating to a 6 year racing career with 96 total races).
  • This sample model assumes roughly a “10% rule” of real-life horse racing stakes for Gen 0 horses. This means that if for example real-life GI (Grade I) races have a minimum purse of $300k USD, then the minimum purse for a Photo Finish “GI” race would be $30k USD.
  • This sample model shows everything in our very own $DERBY token. But our current model assumes $DERBY is in essence a stable coin with $1 USD = 1 DERBY.
  • This sample model is heavily weighted towards higher dollar amount purses. The reason is somewhat obvious - the current value of Gen 0 horses is quite high, with the floor price of just a Filly at 13 SOL as of this writing. We don’t imagine many people expect to pay $1300 for a horse and race for $1 and $5 prizes. We do fully intend to expand the race offerings to much lower stakes races once more lower value horses have entered the system and tune this constantly over time based on demand and community sentiment.
  • These sample model graphs assume racing EXCLUSIVELY a single type of race for reference. Obviously this is not what most owners would do but this is purely for reference.

Ungraded Racing

“Ungraded” races refers to the lower stakes of racing — Claiming, Maiden, Allowance. These have a wide range of purse distributions, from $500 to $7500 USD. Below is a chart of net $DERBY winnings (remembering you have to pay an entry fee to enter each race) for 3 different win rates:

Net $DERBY winnings for an ‘ungraded’ horse over his career at 15% / 20% / 25% win rates

Graded Racing

“Graded” stakes refers to a specific type of race with a minimum purse. There are 4 minimum purse cutoffs for each type of Graded Stakes race:

  • Listed: $7,500 USD
  • Grade III: $10,000 USD
  • Grade II: $20,000 USD
  • Grade I: $30,000 USD

These are obviously much higher stakes races with tougher competition, but this is also where the “Sport of Kings” gets its name. The risk is high but so is the reward. It should also be noted that there is no theoretical maximum on Grade I races. For example, the Saudi Cup is a GI race in real life which has a purse of $20 million USD (which, if we stuck with the 10% rule and was held in Photo Finish, would be a $2m purse). Below is a chart again showing the possible $DERBY winnings from a horse running in graded stakes races:

Net $DERBY winnings for a single ‘graded’ horse over his career at 15% / 20% / 25% win rates


If Racers are the meat of Photo Finish 2, then Breeders are the potatoes. Breeders search the marketplace for Studs and Mares that could produce big winners. They look at genetics on a deep level and fine-tune killers for specific distances. Well bred foals can sell for big money, and a good investment can breed many high value foals.

Breeder Skills:

  • Follow the race season and identify big winners heading to market
  • Sift through genetics to breed up weak genes and protect strong ones
  • Determine hidden stats and preferences from run times and juvenile competition

Breeder Income:

  • Sell quality foals for big returns
  • Identify underpriced horses in Claiming races and breed or resell them on the market
  • Collect royalties on every horse bred


If Racers and Breeders are the Meat and Potatoes, then Owners are the plate the meal is served on. Owners invest in and help govern the game as a whole, earning rewards based on how well the season does. They also make decisions in the Stylish Stables DAO, which features real horse ownership, live racing suite access, and philanthropy.

Owner Skills:

  • Analyze the game economy to determine season value
  • Divide funds between Track Ownership and the Market to maximize returns
  • Determine what DAO decisions will improve game health and value

Owner Income:

  • Earn a percentage, based on investment, of every race run.
  • Use the DAO to implement changes that bring in new players, increasing revenue
  • Receive regular airdrops of $CROWN currency

All together, these player types keep the game growing as horse breed, foal, race, retire, and repeat. As long as players love horse racing, there’ll be something to do in Photo Finish.

$CROWN release to DAO Members:

Before we end the post, we’d like to explain a bit more about an important revenue stream: seasonal $CROWN releases. The releases of $CROWN are a regular drop of our Governance currency sent to our DAO’s members. How do you become a member? Currently, it’s easy, just become a verified holder of our Stylish Studs / Fine Fillies / Spooky Studs PFPs.

For those waiting to know how this works, we have good news; it’s generous. A whopping 50% of ALL tokens will be shipping out to our PFP holders. That’s 125,000,000 tokens out of our 250,000,000 total supply. These will be released linearly at the end of every season, meaning roughly 4.8 million tokens and some change will be sent to the holders every 4 weeks for 2 years.


  • Team: 21% (6 month cliff, 2 year vest)
  • Investors: 7% (1 year vest)
  • PFP Airdrops: 50% (2 year period)
  • Not yet allocated: 22%

The question you may ask next is “So, what is the valuation of the $CROWN network today?” Stay tuned — we should have some answers to this with upcoming press releases on our investment round.

PFP Holder Distribution:

As we’ve said from the very beginning, we wanted to make sure that rarity mattered for the life of these NFT’s. We also wanted to make sure that even the lowest ranked holders feel like they’ve gotten a fair return, so we looked at a few distribution methods for the release of $CROWN. Ultimately, we settled on a unique curve that is averaged from a linear distribution and a logarithmic one. It’s a compromise that still rewards the highest ranks while maintaining a healthy baseline for all holders and makes the value of rarity significant at every level. Here’s what it looks like:

Note: you can check the rarity rankings and how they map to $CROWN releases here:


We’re aware that there’s speculation about HOW we ranked the PFPs so we’ll clarify that too. First, we put all 15,008 into one group and added Gender as a trait. The full total of 15,008 comes from the inclusion of our 8 Spooky Studs. To rank the “new” set, we summed all counts of each trait and compared them to the total population.

Things worked simply from there, though we DID decide to Fudge the Spooky Studs a bit. Technically their traits are the rarest of all, as they’re 1 ofs and the Unique Studs and Fillies are 2 ofs (Two counts of Ziggy Face, 2 At the Track Background, ect…). We didn’t like how rare that made them, so we decided that the Spooky Studs would have the same rank as the unique studs.


We are so very excited to begin the next step of this journey with all of you, our loyal, active, and amazing community. We have been hard at work on the game and have plenty more to share in the coming months.

Along those lines, we are very excited to also announce that the final PFP Breeding Tool release is coming EXTREMELY SOON! We expected it to be released this week in all honesty, but as we moved everything from devnet to mainnet we ran into some hiccups and we want to be ultra sure things are fully tested, secure, and as stable as possible if things go wrong inside the network during the minting process. We are targeting open release of the breeding tool at the beginning of next week!

COMING SOON: “Breeding” your own Generation 0 Tickets

Disclaimer: It goes without saying, but game development is difficult — and though we are making every effort to execute every part of our shared vision with the community, things can change. Specific details may be subject to change in order to comply with regulatory compliance. The team might also just come up with a better idea on how to best implement a feature. Nothing in this post is meant to solicit investment in any way shape or form. The details are being shared for informational purposes only. The team reserves all rights to modify this post in the future in order to provide the best possible experience.

See you on the track!



Third Time Dev

Game development studio with many years in AAA, mobile, and F2P. Crypto enthusiasts. Big fans of Unity.