Managing Premium Sports Marathon Checklists

I think we are seeing a growing focus on bringing strength back to the marathons in each of the main sports apps. Doubly so for the velvet rope version of the marathons, like Signature Series and Limited. I love both of these sets, and I feel like they get should get attention like none other in both Bunt and Huddle. From a design perspective, both have received that treatment, but for a number of different reasons, I havent been as impressed with some of the checklist choices.

This brings about the discussion of how important the management of these checklists needs to be explored through the entire run. Because of injuries and play on the field, there needs to be a ton of flexibility in direction. Its clear that the checklists are made well ahead of the season, and I have some reason to believe that they can be edited midstream. Either that, or there are just some lucky guesses on impact players that could emerge.

With that, is it better to reserve these two specific examples for the best of the best, even if it means that some players get repeat appearances year over year? I think the short answer is yes, with the longer answer being yes*. The asterisk recognizes that half of the top stars in the NFL are on injured reserve (not an exaggeration) and rookies in MLB stole the show in 2017. Factoring both of those in to edit checklists midstream should definitely be a factor.

Signature Series

2018 Huddle signature series golddownload

The sports apps are the houses that signatures built. Regardless of any argument that some series of cards have attained similar or nicer value, the signature series marathon in a sports app is the steak, every other set is just a side dish. Some side dishes in real life can be life changing-ly good, but we go to a place to eat because of the main course. Signature Series has always been a top delivery mechanism in the apps, and for the most part, it worked out well in both Huddle and Bunt this year.

My only complaint has been some of the “B” tier guys who have made appearances – more so in Bunt than any other of the sports apps. The team wants to show deep cuts in every one of their marathons, but I dont think anyone complains when Kris Bryant and Mike Trout appear every year. When you have a premium marathon, in my opinion, the names are almost double the importance of the card counts. That doesnt happen frequently.

Limited Series

Topps-Huddle-Limited-Jordy-Nelson-Digital-Cards-l300

This is where I have some complaints, on both sides of the landscape. Because numbers can get extremely low for top position players in both the NFL and MLB, it can be detrimental to offer those cards in a set based atmosphere.

In previous years, Huddle has offered variant levels for the set collectors to chase, which have given opportunities to use some of the main center stage guys, even when their number is low.

This year, both apps chose a “no variant” approach, which forced the low number players to be almost disqualified in lieu of offering a set award, which I dont necessarily think is required when all is said and done. If the Bunt team and the Huddle team feel a set award needs to happen, then at some point they have to come up with a strategy that doesnt force all of us to stomach high number player after high number player, especially with what we are seeing in Huddle.

Considering that in Huddle you cant open packs of Limited without paying real money, it creates more resentment from the community when the checklist is jammed into a method that doesnt strike the right notes.

Adding fuel to the previous paragraph, Huddle has elected to use a pattern for their Limited release, that I really dont think is a great idea. There is a jersey number crisis in the NFL, and it doesnt bode well for a set based on that stat. For the first two releases in a marathon leg, they choose players whose numbers are either in the 80s or 90s. Because of NFL rules, that knocks out everyone who isnt a defensive lineman or a receiver/TE. Obviously there are some great players in that category, but historically defense doesnt matter in Huddle, and guys that deserve to be a part of a super premium marathon set are very limited – pardon the pun. So far, we have seen guys like Miles Garrett, Zach Ertz, and others that dont fit along side guys like Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson at that level.

The next card is a player who is in the 40-50 range, which is even narrower of a scope. We are talking mostly linebackers, with some lineman mixed in. Unlike the receiver bunch, there are practically ZERO players that should have a place in this marathon.

The last card in the leg is a player in the 20-30 range, which has been a running back both times. This is the area they should START to look for their main cards, with a lot of players occupying this space, but having the smallest part of the marathon due to the pattern listed so far. Also, because of this, it means every single one of these players needs to be a home run, and Demarco Murray is definitely NOT that.

With most of the QBs, faces of the league and top guys being in the 25 range and below, all of a sudden, the conundrum is real. You cant have a limited set based on jersey number in football without ripping out the most important players on the field. I think this fact is slowly sinking in, and hopefully is corrected as the rest of the set plays out.

On the Bunt side, we have seen Limited used as what I am labeling as “just another marathon” with a level of player quality I just dont get. There were a few players released this year that I hadnt even heard of, and that’s a problem for a set as premium as Limited is in Bunt.

I get that the team wants to show off their roster knowledge and highlight underappreciated players in the game. My argument is that Limited Series is not the place for that to happen. This is the place where the Giancarlo Stantons of the world get their time in the sun, not Justin Bour.

Closing Thoughts

Bottom line, I think the Topps Digital apps got a bit gun shy when building out a variant strategy after the last few years was almost 100% based on them to be successful. As a result, we have seen the pendulum swing almost the entire opposite direction on including parallels in a set release, and that is bad in its own right. The goal of all of our complaining was not to strip away the elements of the sets that made the apps fun. Card counts being displayed, fun variants to chase and trade for, etc. When you remove so much of that element that we are left with what we have right now, its just as bad as it was the other way.

The key is BALANCE.

The team cant use variants/parallels as a crutch, first and foremost. Thats when people get pissed. They also cant remove them completely, because some of the super premium bundles become a slot machine pull when that happens, and the apps arent fun when we are expected to gamble our hard earned money on cards with no tangible presence or functional usage.

Hopefully as both sports inch closer to the offseason, we see a strategy that can focus on bringing back the balance we all loved back in 2014 and before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Huddle Thanksgiving – The Mid Year Super Bowl of Awesomeness

Even though I havent posted a lot here lately, this is literally one of my favorite weekends of the year for digital cards. Not only are there offers across all the apps, but Huddle literally goes nuts. Rightfully so, as the country has basically made Thanksgiving a football holiday, and as a rabid fan, I am definitely thankful for that.

This will end up one of the most insane couple of days in the app outside of the Super Bowl, so get ready to rock.

Brave the Elements

Here is where the day gets really interesting with a new type of card. Not a new set, but literally a new type of card. For a long time, the best animated card we had was anything parallax, and most Android users never got to see what that was all about. With Topps Focus, we have seen video cards in the apps, but nothing like what we are going to get with the new Motion type cards.

Basically, these are animated cards with special effects, but should be something that can be visible without hitting “play” on the card. That is not only freaking awesome, but they have used a fan favorite vehicle in Brave the Elements to bring it to life. I absolutely love it.

Verdict: Showstopper of the day

Gypsy Queen

This is the kind of set I have been waiting for all year. Filled with super limited content, in a huge checklist, with no waved type structure in the release. Get it all and get it now, and oh yeah, it has a great design to boot.

For super premium collectors like myself, we are tired of paying huge cost for a pack and ending up with a 1:100 shot at one of two limited cards. This is much differently structured, and still not all the way to what it could be, but we are making a lot of progress here.

The signature relics are amazing looking, as they were in Baseball, which are complemented by a great parallel structure that includes some very valuable cards if Bunt is any indication.

Verdict: This is what the app has been missing all year

Thanksgiving Boost Set

This is another yearly tradition and a godsend for many game players who arent going to drop coins on premium diamond packs. This might be the first real boosts available in coin packs, and hopefully people took advantage of the opportunity.

At 7x, I would guess many of us will still play these types of boosts into the playoffs, and that means these types of cards should be chased for all contest players.

Verdict: Ho hum boosts, but good checklist of guys to chase

Topps Crush

This set looks great, and is made by Tyson Beck who does all the Fire sets and Arcade from previous years. I absolutely love the design of this set, and as a cheap win for F2P players who want cool sets to chase today, this one is definitely a good one. Lots of players on the checklist without a lot of cards, including ones that are part of today’s games.

Verdict: Great looking set that works for all types of Huddle players

Turkey Red

More of the Huddle Thanksgiving tradition, and another year that I think this set might be one of the better chases for the entire holiday. Big checklist, nice award card, and of course, cheap packs that F2P players can afford if they have saved up a good chunk of coinage. I think that for a physical baseball set that has transitioned over to the digital side, this is a really nice way of reworking the old favorites. This was originally a retro set, so its kind of odd to move it to more modern looks, but the design is nice enough for that to work.

Verdict: Sets like this make me miss physical Topps Football cards

Thanksgiving Dual Signatures

We will get a batch of these for each of the three games, and each will feature a current player alongside a legend for that team. Being a Vikings fan, seeing Keenum and Cunningham on the card together is actually one of the more interesting and well thought out pairings I have seen in the app to date. Read the story of both QBs, and it will be more clear why its so intriguing.

Verdict: Continuation of the normal set with nice legend touch to it

Thanksgiving Signature Series

Ah yes, the one set that always makes my day. This one is no different, and if I had to guess, these cards were built a while ago. Not only are there players that are out for the year, but clearly featuring some players that just arent having great years. It is still cool to see these cards every year, as they have become a tradition. They look awesome and the higher boosts help. Wish they had low count variants, but that hasnt happened in the past either.

Verdict: Keeping the tradition alive in a great way

Thanksgiving Hunt

I really like the addition of the letters this year, as this is a type of card that really hasnt been explored all that much in digital, despite being EVERYWHERE in physical. The rest was just the standard hunt format, chase down letters for a set to get the reward. This isnt my thing normally, but with the new type of card in relic format, I was in for a few packs.

Verdict: Never been a fan of this format but the letters make it fresh

Overall, this is honestly just the beginning, as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will keep this party going. Its going to be interesting to see how this all plays out as the sets come into focus, especially if Inception is on the radar. We need some nice low count cards, as I find myself chasing ghosts in a lot of ways with tired third waves of previous sets, instead of dropping bombs like with Gypsy today. Cant wait to see what Huddle has on tap.

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Has Topps Lost Sight of How to Create Valuable Premium Content?

In the two sports apps I still have a good following of, I have noticed a very interesting trend over the 2017 season for both Bunt and Huddle. It has to do with the way premium content is delivered, and I dont think its something I have seen prior to this year. Each of the non-marathon “box type” sets that are released have very little limited content. It used to be that these boxes were A) much larger in size, and B) offered a subset of very limited inserts that usually incorporated both highly desirable cards that were also very difficult to obtain.

This season, the format in these situations are cookie cutter to a fault in both apps, with a “wave” based release of a larger checklist, so that only a portion of each box is available at once. It is clearly designed to spread out the spending across multiple waves, making more money for Topps along the way. Problem is, the content involved in each wave is both small in number and large in count. This is especially true lately, with high priced packs (in upwards of 10 bucks per pack) offering very little in the realm of super limited content.

Most of the “premium diamond pack” hits are as high as 200 count, which makes me wonder if the team is legitimately trying to avoid this type of card? My other question is why there has been SUCH a dramatic shift.

Let me say, I do support the notion that super limited content had gotten out of hand. It got so bad in huddle that all cards not numbered 1/1 were worthless across most areas of trade value. However, that does NOT mean that type of content needed to be eradicated. It just means the balance needed a bit more adjustment.

More importantly, pack prices are getting MUCH more expensive for the desirable sets, while at the same time offering less content for the money. With a wave approach to set release, there are usually only 2-5 checklist examples of cards at 25 count or less, something that frustrates me to no end.

Its actually gotten boring. 10 base cards, 10 parallel base cards, 5 relics, 5 signatures and 2 limited type cards. Huddle has brought in 1/1s to make things a bit more interesting, but I am starving for the old way. I miss the sets where there were 10 super limited cards per release. Each box had one wave and the varied approach to the configuration always got me going.

Now, if the super limited cards arent up my alley, I just walk away knowing how the rest of the content will be so readily available, I can trade for it easily later. That is just boredom for me. I love the thrill of ripping super premium packs, but only when I know there is something valuable inside. Because so many people still remember the glory days of the app, a card that has a count of 50 is barely worth batting an eye.

Here is my suggestion.

If a pack costs us real money, it should have some element of limited content that dips below 50. If that pack costs SIGNIFICANT real money, most of the pack should consist of content below 25, with MULTIPLE elements of cards below 10, 5 and 1/1.

Similarly, these sets shouldnt be a regular thing. They should be available, but not to the point where we stop caring about the marathons and non-super premium releases.

Its almost like there is very little awareness of how real money works on a digital app on the Topps strategic team. For 99% of the country, buying one of these packs is more than someone is paid minimum wage per hour. For that same percentage, spending 100 dollars on a non-tangible entertainment item is a treat, and should be thought of as such from the Topps team. I spend a lot on the apps, but I am also able to do so. The majority of the app’s traffic isnt able to drop that kind of cash more than a couple times a year, if that.

For that reason alone, the users who do make that commitment should be heavily rewarded for their spending power, and that should be delivered in the pack’s content. When you get bottle service at the club, it comes with perks, or at least an experience that the other club goers cannot experience without spending the same. The people ordering water at the bar also dont expect to have the same experience as those VIPs. The same should be the case for the apps.

First off, premium spenders should get access to content that intrinsically has more worth. What makes digital a golden goose is that the cost to create a premium card vs a non premium card is identical. For physical cards, that isnt the case. The cost to build an autograph card or a relic card over a base card is exponentially more expensive. There is no reason other than lack of time to not build a ton of content for both areas of the club. However, there has to be comparative value in the cards in each situation.

Here is where the discussion comes full circle. Card count, much to everyone’s understanding, is still the largest driver of value. The lower the count, the more potential value a card can have. Its not the only value driver, but its the one that adds value more than any other. Basically, a fire can burn hot without an accelerant, but tossing gas on the fire can cause an explosion. Same thing is true here. Low card count is the accelerant.

If the team is going to go down the path of super premium packs, they should expect to have a large amount of limted card count available in that release. Again, if they expect us to drop a car payment on some of these sets, they need to be shown that this type of release pattern doesnt facilitate a proper repayment of the money we are spending. We pay for the entertainment, and we arent getting that without low count inserts more readily available.

Similarly, if they are afraid of user reactions, they shouldnt be. If the set content is released in BALANCE, the user base will understand the dynamic I explained in the club bottle service analogy. In the same vein, if people arent allowed in the bar without the expectation of getting bottle service, you can see where people would get pissed. That’s the utopian dilemma.

Net net – find the damn balance between premium and non-premium, and give people the value they expect. No more trying to disguise premium content with high count releases. If Topps needs more money out of people, make more cards. Dont try to stretch things into to waves or create high count releases to extend pack availability. Its not fair to the spenders and it creates resentment we have already started to see.

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Contest Time in Huddle 18

2018 Topps Huddle 1

Today is the first big day for NFL contests, and with it, some awesome prizes. If you are like me, and have been waiting for this over the last 4 months, its literally a religious holiday. Most people who play Huddle struggle with the contests at first, and I wanted to make sure vets and rookies alike had an inside track. Here are some very basic understandings of where the nuances lie, as well as a few changes for this year.

The Importance of Red Zone

If you dont have NFL Red Zone, what are you living in? The dark ages? It is insanely fun to watch, first of all, and second of all, is hugely important for Huddle on Sundays. Because of the importance around having the right cards in your lineup at the right time, Red Zone clues you into when those things happen in real time. As you will see, one of the big changes we saw on Thursday night is lag time, and this channel has become all but the most important tool of the day. There are twitter accounts that list all the touchdowns as they happen too, so if you dont have access to the show, follow one of those accounts.

Lag Time

Speaking of lag time, this looks to be one of the big changes over last year. It used to be you had 4-6 plays before scoring would hit the feed and it gave you time to switch out guys. I was seeing plays hit the feed within seconds of play completion on Thursday, but it may have been the scoring glitch as it was, and could be different today. Either way,  Topps Digital mentioned publicly they were looking to change the scoring providers for this year, and it *SEEMS* like this has been correct. That means, when you see a TD or big play happen, switch fast.

Players to Use for Best Scoring

This early on in the season, it can be hard to have a lot of stuff to play unless you have been ripping packs like a maniac. On long plays or touchdowns, I have one rule and one rule only for unlimited switch contests – ALWAYS PLAY THE GUY WHO CAUGHT OR RAN THE BALL THERE FIRST. This is even the case for boosted QBs over less boosted WRs. Just play all the receivers first, hit save (lag is short!), then put in all the QBs to fill the gaps. If you dont have enough of either, playing the defensive player who made the stop can work too. If you have a lot of experience, this becomes second nature, but I promise you, to save time and score big, just play the receivers who make the catch.

In contests that are limited switches allowed, this is where QBs make their money. The only time Im moving out QBs to burn valuable plays is on longer TDs, as the cost of switching out guys and burning plays can be huge. I havent seen fantasy contests yet, but if they come back, just play defensive guys who get a ton of tackles and QBs. Period.

Staying Ahead of the Thu/Sun/Mon Night Curve

Every team has a Thursday night game, so that’s not as big a factor in chasing down the bigger boosts. When it comes to Sunday and Monday night, thats where some teams have the advantage around nationally televised games. These games usually have dedicated contests, and if you can stock up a few weeks ahead of schedule, you will reap the rewards. Teams like Dallas and New England will have a lot of these types of games, as will Green Bay, New York and Pittsburgh. I use my cards from teams like the Browns and Jaguars to add in as throw aways to get cards from these few teams. With dedicated contests, these cards will put you in a spot to score larger to hit prizes for the leaderboard spots, which will get you sigs and relics across the board.

The Importance of Boosts

GO boosts and perma boosts are part of Huddle culture and will always be a focus in an app that has such high participation in the contest side per capita. There will be an escalation of boost level through the whole season, so please do not expect that pink will be the last boosts we see. By the time the season is over, we will end up seeing at least 10-15x by the playoffs and 40x-50x by the Super Bowl. Keep that in mind as you are trading, I would probably stay away from hoarding pinks, unless you can get them for cheap. Im not trading limited inserts to get them, as I know they will be made obsolete by higher levels eventually.

Choose Your Battles

With lag what it looks to be, you need to be sure to choose the right contests to make the biggest splash. As we see, there are premium prizes for premium contests, and if they continue to look as cool as they do, I would expect them to be quite valuable. I have yet to see a contest that costs more than a daily bonus, so that would suggest they want to make these quite accessible.

Last year’s contests in Huddle were a blast – especially as the playoffs got going. Make sure to get involved at some point to figure out how to play. Last year, there were physical prizes awarded at the end of the year, and it helps to have the goods to compete.

Celebrate people! Here we go!

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Breaking Down the New Huddle Marathons

Ahhh yes. The best time of year. Football is back, and everyone is raring to go knock some teeth out. It also means the start of Huddle for the year, and with it, a fresh new set of Marathons. I was curious to see if they went about it the same way this year, considering last year got a bit dicey early on with Bundle buy ins. Now that diamonds have simplified the whole situation, I am seeing some major progress towards keeping value in the cards before eBay drives all prices down to nothing.

Similarly, the addition of the weekly collection award for chasing down all the base marathons are a huge help to creating a market on the trade feed. People will want to make sure they stay within the lines for whatever card is being offered, and this could not be a better opportunity to create buzz.

To make things even better, the addition of rookies and 2017 preseason game photos add a level of authenticity that we never had the chance to get in previous years. Rookies were always left out until much later on in the season, and it left a void that had always been huge. Week 1 cards include Brandin Cooks on his new team, which shows the level of dedication the Huddle team had in creating these, instead of resorting to what they already had done. With approval processes in place that have likely made things difficult in the past, prep for 2017 is clearly on point.

This year also marks the second year that Topps Football is without a physical license, which means that Huddle is the only source of Topps in the NFL this year. Luckily for everyone, TOPPSCOREY is a maniac, and might be the best designer in the stable they have. Here is a breakdown of the first few glimpses into his handy work.

Archives

2018 huddle archives

Design:   football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:   football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

This is one of those sets for people looking for a good chase, but dont want to spend that much trading or ripping packs to get the ones they need. I think the look is going to be one of those situations where no one’s jaw hits the floor, but that we kind of expected that to happen. Overall, this is the weakest one there is, but could end up getting much better.

Fan’s Choice

2018 huddle fans choice

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

I think this is one of the strongest fan’s choice designs I have seen, and Im glad they moved away from a retro look to deliver an original take. The quality of this marathon depends on two things – the choices given to the community and the way the community votes. So far, Joe Mixon has won, and that’s a bit representative of the way this whole thing can go.

Matchups

2018 huddle matchups

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

A new marathon for 2017, this is based off of Bunt, but seems to fit much better in Huddle. I really like the design, and I think it could be cool to see the different players they chose for this set. I believe these will be built around the Thursday night game, and hopefully we can get some color rush goodies to match in some other fashion.

Relic

2018 huddle relic2018 huddle relic gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

I love the relic design this year, and though Im not a huge fan of the set overall, I think its a pretty cool look after a drab few years the last couple of go arounds. With a dual relic set also in play based on contests, who knows where this might land in the hierarchy of value.

Signature Series

2018 Huddle signature series2018 Huddle signature series gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

Another year, another great looking design for this set. Unlike previous years, the Gold variant has a different photo, which has been the case in Bunt for a while. It adds some allure to chasing both sigs, and I cannot wait to see the checklist. This could end up being a tough set to complete, with diamonds limiting the availability of the variants to farmers. Another great byproduct of the change, as these cards shouldnt tank as fast.

Huddle Greats

2018 huddle greats2018 Huddle greats signature gold

Design:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Collectability:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design
Cost:  football-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-designfootball-helmet-clip-art-16526-football-helmet-design

This mirrors the legends set from last year, and it might be the best looking marathon of the bunch. This could end up being a velvet rope type marathon in the end, with 1000 diamond packs being the only way to get the signature version of the set. Considering how awesome this stuff looks, it should end up being the most valuable to collect and stash away. So far, my favorite new addition this year.

On the Radar

Limited – We havent seen this set yet, but we know its coming. Depending on the way the set is configured, these will be some of the most valuable cards in the app.

Street – The Weekly award is a signature street card, so we have to assume these will be a set of some sort this year. Man do they look cool, and I am so happy these are back after being gone last year.

Dual Sigs – As part of the tournament structure, there are dual sigs that look really freaking cool. Hope we get these as a running set in the app.

Its going to be a fun year if this trend continues, happy to see how much action has already been going now that this stuff has come fast and furious. My compliments to the chef aside, this is definitely the best looking year of Huddle so far. Not even close.

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Football is Back: Topps Huddle 2018 Launch Thoughts

2018 Topps Huddle 1

When I started with Topps Digital, my main focus was Huddle. I downloaded the app and created my original account when the app was in its first year, and never looked back. The launch of the new build has become my favorite part of each year, and 2018 is no different. With so many things up in the air around digital cards, its great to see Huddle take center stage and knock it out of the park.

Changes

Well, as expected, the changes delivered to all of the other Topps apps have come to Huddle. Diamonds, cosmetic changes, and functionality that we saw across the other titles have finally come to Huddle. I like the costmetic changes after having some time to mess around with them in Bunt and SW, and I dont think any one has scoffed at the update there. Things are faster, better looking and animated the same way we see in other apps we play.

Diamonds

I get it, you either love this or you hate this change to the apps. Adding a secondary currency as we see in a lot of other digital apps is not unheard of, and its clear that this is the way Topps has chosen to go for the foreseeable future. Im not going to sit here and try to defend this adjustment, its been hashed and rehashed to death in the articles and twitter for the last few months. As someone who buys and doesnt really care about F2P scenarios, this doesnt change anything for me, and thus doesnt matter to my gameplay. I would be buying either way, and buying diamonds vs coins is of no consequence. I understand others feel differently, but when you are ordering water at the bar vs shots and cocktails, you have to understand the priority will be different.

I will say this – with the release of Relics today, the ebay vultures are not up and running. That means better in game value and a happy experience for those that spend. Finally we get something for dedicating our funds.

Design

Let me start by saying TOPPSCOREY is a goliath among men. Not only is he the best at what he does, he does it so well I fear he will get taken away for better projects. The base design is an update over 2017, when Huddle had its first digital exclusive look, and boy did he do a great job.

Looking at the marathons, including the recently released Relic and Street series, he clearly knows how much attention to detail matters in the construction of a good looking card. Its the little things that matter, and Corey knows what the hell he is doing and then some. Cant say enough good things.

App Strategy

With base cards only reaching 2.0x as opposed to the card exchange strategy of Bunt’s 10x golds, its obvious that boosts are going to be back en force for 2018. Im not opposed, especially because of how much fun the contests were last year, but Im curious what might be a different approach. Is this really the best way of doing things, or is there a hybrid strategy that works just as well.

Topps huddle 4 elliott

In observance of the awesome level rewards, contest content has to be as good – if not better. As long as the Huddle team puts some beef behind that part of the app, we will all reap the rewards. Contests need to be unique with exclusive promotions, or all those diamonds spent on attaining special cards wont continue to flow the way they have. Churning out the same structure for 17 straight weeks will be a death sentence, and I hope they understand how variety is the spice of life.

Either way – Huddle has made its worth known around two things. App wide gameplay participation, and super premium content. If those things change, I hope some aspect of both remains. Releasing a ton of content with no premium gives no incentive to spend, and I wish the experience of the off-season would reign over the strategy planning for 2018. Although you cant swing the pendulum too far either direction, offering something for the whales along side the F2P crowd brings about a hierarchy that breeds benefit all around.

First Take

I love what my experience has been in Huddle since 2013. Its been a fun albeit bumpy ride. That doesnt mean that things arent going to be awesome this year. We have rookies in the initial set, and we get some great content already flowing from day one. Not everyone is going to be happy, but I can say this year is already off to a good start. As long as the balance between premium content and community wins is maintained, we should have a great year to experience. Cant wait to see what is going to happen and what surprises the team is going to bring to the table.

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Guest Post: Kick 18 is Here!

Capture.PNGNote: Im not fluent in all the Topps apps, so when my buddy Apeshot wanted to put together a piece on the launch of Kick 2018, I happily accepted. Looks like its off to a good start, really good article here for anyone seeking out a vet’s perspective.

-Gellman

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Kick 18: Thoughts on the Launch of the 2018 Build

Kick 18 launched for many yesterday and I wanted to give my initial thoughts on a significant update to the Topps app.  The first thing that all fans of Topps Digital Apps should take note of is that this release demonstrates what I would describe as a significant investment by the Topps Company into the digital space.  I think it’s easy for many fans to forget that none of this is for free, and earning profits is the goal of any company.  It’s easy for anyone to throw ideas out on what would be great; it’s an entirely different process to execute those ideas with financial resources.  Thank you Topps for reinvesting in the digital product.  Here are my initial thoughts on the app update, enjoy!

“Gamifying” the User Experience  

Topps has added some games of chance in a smart way.  It is obviously the goal of any app to keep the user on the app as long as possible.  The two new games aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but do allow for a new way of grinding out some coins, rather than just watching videos about laundry detergent through TapJoy.  It’s a system that prevents easy coin farming, but rewards the users who want to invest the time, such as casual kids.

Making Sense of the New Tiering System

Finally, a chase for collectors.  I’m now only a collector on the Kick app.  I’ve been a chaser in the past, having won gold game changers across all three leagues, so I know what kind of time and dedication that takes to win those gold beauties week in and week out.  Those days of waking up at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning to watch Ingolstadt versus Darmstadt in the Bundesliga match are gone for me—thank the Lord.  However, I’m still competitive and have always tried to make the case for a collector chase.  The new tier system doesn’t accomplish this 100%, but it’s another step in the right direction.  For the top collectors, exclusivity and competition are huge motivators—and reasons to spend money.  This element is really well done.  It is well presented, and updates on your progress are obvious with immediate rewards.

Design Front and Center

We don’t tell the team enough, but the graphic design team is absolutely outstanding.  The initial pack releases are gorgeous.  If you compare it to the Panini apps, it’s not even in the same league of design quality.  If the product is ugly, it won’t sell, no matter how good the app is.

Communication

The Kick team has really stepped up and improved communication over the last half year.  They are absolutely bombarded by nonsense and insults day in and day out, but yet continue to sift through our rants and keep us pretty up to date.  Communication in this first 24 hours has been outstanding from what I have seen.  Communication takes real man/woman hours and as a customer I really appreciate the effort they’ve put in on day one.  It’s important on launch because there are always problems and glitches.

Problems and Glitches

The app right now is completely full of glitches.  Some people aren’t even able to get through the tutorial, trades aren’t loading, some card collections haven’t loaded yet for customers, etc etc etc.  It’s only been one day, so most of this is expected.  But worst of all, the servers are absolutely smashed just from pack openings.  I can only imagine how poorly the points chase will go this weekend as more users come on line, eager to use the new app.  We know from history, it won’t go well.  If this is true just from Kick, when Huddle update hits, it will only get worse.

Power Consumption Challenges  

It always confuses me how an app that basically just displays static images can comsume so much battery power.  I don’t even know how anyone could properly chase a full 90 minute game without draining their phone battery.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that this app uses more battery power than any other app I use.  I don’t understand why when the interface is conceptually so simple??  I would love to get this fixed.  If I can render 3D graphics on a sports game app for hours, why can’t I just look at a few images on this app without draining the battery???

To Be Addressed

Communication with other users has not been addressed.  Sending 1-1s to message is ridiculous in 2017.  We need a chat bar at the bottom with custom user groups we can access.  This would be absolutely amazing for trades and for chasing.  The benefits are limitless and help tie the user more into a community.  We also still need a way to customize some sort of home screen for users.  Let me show off something from my collection that I value.  Let me express some personality or flavor.  Let me tell the community what I’m looking for and what I’m not looking for…I’m seriously not selling any singles including the one you’ve asked me about for 8 months. No seriously, not even that base card from MLS.  😉

I know I’ve missed some things, but all in all, I am super excited about 2017 in Kick.  Beyond all features and games and new designs, I am most encouraged to see Topps further investing in digital cards.  After going most of the last 12 months without spending any money on Kick, I hit the coin store last night.  Well done, Topps!

Apeshot – 3 year user of Topps Apps, former holder of the 100 score account in SWCT, current holder of most cards on Kick.  Always a pained Minnesota Vikings and Arsenal fan. 

 

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