Spring is here, and so is Baseball. Words that many of us look forward to every day of the long and cold offseason. After the unlikely victory of the Houston Astros last year, there are high hopes for the 2018 season, and that’s just the start. Bunt 2018 will also be releasing this afternoon, and with it, digital cards for the year will begin.
Each year, the Bunt redesign tends to set the tone for most of the sports apps over the course of the year. We already saw Kick go through another round of testing when it comes to gameplay and user experience, and Im curious how that might impact Bunt. Hopefully a lot, as the app has been generally the same since 2014. When you look over the other apps on your phone, how many remain as similar to even 2016 as they exist today? Likely none.
Bunt and Topps Digital have really banked heavily on the fact that they own a considerable part of the marketplace when it comes to digital cards, and though there are a lot of competitors that have come to the table, few of them have posed any real threat to Topps’ dominance. Its quite disturbing really, because almost every other one has built some amazing functionality, and few have seen the enormous reward they should get.
So, as we enter into Bunt 2018, I come with very low expectations. I just cant continue to sit idly by as the app continues down the path into boredom I have seen it go down for the last few years. The addition of Batter Up and Prize Wheel are interesting concepts, but honestly they add little to a user experience that has been severely lacking since the original redesign took place for the 2014 season.
Here is my pie in the sky wish list, hopefully some of this eventually comes to pass.
Right now, we all buy packs of some sort, and we all have cards we cherish – whether they are from 2012 or from 2017. As it stands currently, there is ZERO vehicle available to show those cards off. The older the card, the more buried it is on your sheet, and the second 2018 goes live, 50% of the app will no longer care about the thousands of dollars spent on 2017 cards.
The reason this is the case is because few people have a way to truly display their wares for all to see. I have been banging this drum since the 2014 redesign, and honestly my arm is getting tired. To think that all the other apps have found ways for people to showcase the fruits of the money they spend, makes Topps look silly.
More importantly, Topps Digital clearly doesnt understand how collectors work. We have an innate sense of vanity that is at play for every purchase we make. We want to have the best collection, we want to be the top collector, and we want to be recognized for it. Without offering that outlet, Topps is missing the boat by a mile.
Much like collection display options, this is another point I have been harping on for a long time. Bunt encompasses a 162 game season, with active games every day of every week, and a long postseason to boot. The way the game works now, after about Day 30, many users bow out of contests due to sheer lack of desire to participate. Its just a grind and without contest variety and better prizes, people just give up. Im usually done by the time the NFL draft rolls around, and I would guess im one of the last casual contest players to leave.
That should never happen.
Its a shame there isnt more fun to be had in contests, especially when you see how popular fantasy baseball has become. Adding more value to the prize pool, figuring out fun contest structures, and involving a better function based user experience would give Bunt some legs it hasnt had since 2014.
Ill say this right now. Collection score needs to go. Its a worthless number that means nothing at this point, and there is zero reason to keep it around. Instead, the product team needs to figure out a way to better recognize those with awesome collections, and make that information available for the entire app to see.
Incentivising competition among users needs to happen and happen now. People leave because they spend a ton of money and find that it does very little for them other than a quick dopamine rush when they open the packs.
More importantly, if I pull a rare card I want to trade, there is no way to find out who would be the best person to approach to move it. There are no wish lists, there are no collecting leaderboards, there is nothing that gives anyone any way of navigating the vast landscape that is essential to a trading app.
I feel like I am outlining so many OBVIOUS gaps, ones that have been around for years, and Topps has done little to nothing to bring a solution forward. Recognizing users used to happen through Fan of the Week in a very small capacity, and that has since been canned. Things like that have been a focus of Topps’ competition, and its a reason the other apps have such a rabid fan base. They feel appreciated as users, and those apps seem to recognize how important a good user experience is to the bottom line.
User to User Based Features
Right now I cant talk to someone without offering a trade. In an article, there are no ways to search out your name or specific words. This is so backwards it makes me want to scream. The fact that users in every other app can communicate directly is a huge plus, and creates community relationships that are essential.
This point should be so blatant that Im not even going to spend a lot of time writing about it. We need better user to user features, and my head hurts as to why things like Batter Up and Prize Wheel are prioritized over table stakes like this.
Basic functionality is missing. BASIC. Topps has swung and missed.
In closing, I know Topps’ has done a pretty poor job staying on top of app day to day maintenance, and that is as big an issue as anything. I didnt really put that on this list because it is literally what should be done without me saying it. I see a lot of complaints about mistakes and botched drops, but that’s not what I am referencing here. Im talking about grander concepts that are sorely missing from the game.
Hopefully this year turns a leaf. I have seen some turnover in department leadership that doesnt make me feel good about the prospects of improvement, but hopefully they prove me wrong. I want this to be successful. Im a passionate follower of the Topps apps, to the point where I made this site. I stopped regularly updating because I wasnt seeing much to write about. That should say something in itself. I want that to change.
Good luck this year everyone!