2014 Huddle Year in Review – An Obsessive Look At The Best and Worst Pt 4: The Community

Since September, I have been heavily involved in all aspects of Huddle. Trading, points chase, collecting, and writing this site has been a part of my daily life for the last months like never before. Football is my main jam, which is why I was so much more invested in Huddle over other apps.

This series is a review of some of MY major threads from 2014, and I will obsessively breakdown anything and everything I can muster.

Part 4 – The Community

Of all the different parts of my personal Huddle War and Peace novel, this is going to be the hardest to write. I think that the community aspect of things with Huddle is a bit different than we saw in any of the other apps, and it goes without saying its one of my favorite parts of the game.

That being said, the Huddle community can be as unforgiving as any group of people I have ever encountered. Not just with the team or with the content, but with each other. Its kind of frightening at times how cut throat we can all be, and I want to believe its because so much of Huddle is about competition above all else. Put a group of males in a competitive situation, and it becomes a jungle.

Outside of the negative things that have happened, its clear that Huddle also has some of the most awesome, amazing, and generous people in their midst. If you go through the whole season by yourself on Huddle, you are doing it wrong. The people I have had the pleasure of working with all year are people I wish I could meet in person. That’s how passionately I feel about the way many members are in real life.

I think that there is a sense of brotherhood that seems to have emanated from the challenges experienced throughout the whole season, and it has bred a community that is tighter knit than ever before. That’s something we all need to feel very good about.

The Community vs The Huddle Team

No one should be surprised at the animosity that is shown (on a regular basis) towards the Huddle team. Due to historical examples, many of the users feel that their voices need to be heard, some in a constructive fashion, others less so. Its a constant battle of lack of understanding vs lack of information, and the community gets fed up very easily.

I refer to lack of understanding because in a lot of ways the general community will never be privy to how much work goes into the things they take for granted. My favorite is how many people believe it is easy to create and release a card in a matter of seconds. What they might not understand is the amount of work that takes to create the card, create the pack, write the article, build the push notification, etc. Its a labor of love for the Huddle team, no doubt, but it is labor none-the-less.

I dont expect people to identify with that situation in the way I have, as I feel like many people play Huddle and other phone based apps so they dont have to think about it.

In the course of that emotional response comes a really big outpouring of negativity, sometimes to the point of parody. Each new article has a throng of individuals that immediately run to add their viewpoint, many times purposefully ignoring the good things to blast the minor bad things. That’s internet behavior 101, but I feel like its supercharged on Huddle because of the passion and time that people put in on a regular basis. The work put in by the team is concurrently matched by the work many users put in on their end.

The Community vs the Content

From what I see on the comments for each release, the structure of the user base is unlike what I see in Bunt. If I had to guess, there is more of a gap between the top VIPs and the Free players than on other apps, and it likely has to do with the way content is realized and perceived. Bottom line, Huddle looks to be pretty top heavy, and it causes a class separation in the way people react to each card release.

The first group of people are the ones that are excited at a new chase. They dont mind buying into a bundle or two to obtain the card, and they react on the cool factor more than the cost of the release. Sometimes those things will intersect, but for this group, cost is expected and they are as okay with it as they can be.

The second group of people is likely rooted in the free to play movement with Huddle, and they rarely react positively when it becomes clear that something isnt meant for them.  They want access without paying for it, and as someone who is part of the first group, this is a foreign perspective to me. I dont understand how someone can be pissed that a business isnt going to cater to customers that provide no benefit to their bottom line? I understand that the freemium model has to include some elements for free players, but those same people should understand the implications as well. Basically, the free version is never going to be as good as the pay version.

That’s not saying that Huddle shouldnt be more in tune with the middle class, as that is where I think the real opportunities have been missed. There have been wins in that part of the community, but they are few and far between. Unlike Bunt and Kick, being part of the Huddle middle class is tougher than ever. Packs are expensive, odds are long, and its not easy to compete. But, like mentioned above, one should expect a business to give the perks to its best customers. Whether that is access, rewards, or formats, it is what it is.

Im not trying to make this into a pulpit to spew my venom towards people who want the best without paying for it, but the comments most use to describe their feelings seem to be a bit over-dramatic. No one expects the Casino to give comps to the person playing a few nickle slots right? No bar gives a special table to the person ordering water and hanging out with their friends. Its the people dropping thousands on high stakes craps, and the patrons using bottle service. They get the attention and they get the perks. Huddle is the same.

The Community vs the Community

Im going to put this in the context of the Huddle Bowl, because its fresh on my mind, and it is about where I want to go. To put things simply, the community is divided and ruthless in many ways that I never expected.

Some context is necessary, I realize.

When the Huddle Bowl started at 64 participants, there was a clear top 4 or 5 users that were going to skate through. Obviously that’s exactly what happened, and it happened without incident. When it got down to the top 8, of which I was a part of, the community started to have interest in helping their favorite players get ahead.

As people were eliminated in the next round, that support was transferred to the next on the list. Everyone got help. Whether it was one card from a friend or 20 cards from an army, everyone got help. Its part of what makes Huddle awesome.

For the top 4 there was a lot of individuals who felt this method was dishonorable or unethical, and it started a flame war that escalated quickly. What people failed to realize was the root of the situation too. No where did it say you couldnt get help, and Huddle is never going to outlaw trading between friends. Like I have said above, its what this game is all about in a lot of ways.

With everyone jumping down each other’s throats, it became obvious that the community was not without it’s faults. We are a competitive group of individuals, and it came out in droves with that debate.

That being said, the response is representative of the investment many users have made in Huddle, and that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

The Future

I expect that over the next months, people will close up shop for the offseason, and move on. They will either return in April to join up with Bunt, or come back when Huddle starts up again next year. Im sad that we have come so close to the end of the year, but its something that I have been preparing for.

I will miss the community aspect I have enjoyed over the last few months, as it is clear that the community has lent enormous support to me and this site in a way I never could have imagined. Comments, tweets, trades, and support came in huge batches, and I cannot thank all of you enough. You all made this year fun – plain and simple.

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