Over the last few days, the way inserts have been available in the app has changed drastically. Its a move that many people expected to happen, but it didnt mean that the eventual execution of the transition is any less difficult to work through.
So far, we dont have all the details, many of which will depend on tomorrow’s Vintage release. Once those details become available, it will be more clear as to the direction. I do have some thoughts to run through, and I encourage you to add your comments as well.
Why Was This Expected?
I think this was in the cards for a long time. Its hard to offer the best of the best in the cheapest packs. Up until this point, it was easy to get every single one of the cards that drive the app’s economy in the Mace Windu 1000 credit packs. From a business standpoint, that makes little to no sense, as there is no incentive to spend more money on the higher priced items, unless you have objectives for collecting cards that arent weekly based.
Because Topps is a business first and foremost, they need to make money and make enough of it to support these apps and their ever growing staff. They also need to turn a profit, just like every business, and if the Mercedes is the same price as the Kia, well that wont work as well. That being said, because the best was cheap, the community was strong and fun, and less about the cost of collecting like we saw in some of the other games. It was a trade off that was definitely weighted to favor the users at first, but you cant function like that forever. Eventually, you gotta sell something.
Similarly, Thursdays impacted all three games. Because the Vintage cards were released at a specific time that everyone was made aware of, the users could load up the server bandwidth like I have never seen before. Being that they just added a crowd of new Android users, things were not going to continue functioning without major changes.
Although its clear that no one really loves this change at all, it should be a bit clearer to you why it had to happen.
I think that people fail to see why its not about greed or nefarious attempts to screw people over. I see the words money grab or greed thrown around a lot, only because the community is focused on the community aspect. That should be expected. Similarly, they expect this to be a relative non-profit structure, and that a business would not look to capitalize on a money making opportunity.
Furthermore, free players are complaining that they are being left behind with this new structure, another thing that should be very much expected considering their lot in the game. Free players are tolerated. They are only targeted as potential new pay players in the future, many of which eventually make the jump. Topps definitely has conversion numbers, and these types of transitions are calculated and very well planned out. They arent looking to drive free players away, as the community is important, but at the same time, they arent going to cater to them either.
I also mentioned the server space above, as the bandwidth for releases can be enormous because of how many people are playing along with this game. These apps already cost a metric ton of money to maintain, and adding server space to accommodate one of the games is almost impossible without huge costs. Bottom line, they needed a way to lighten the load without devaluing the cards with higher counts. This new structure accomplishes that objective, and doesnt exile people from pulling the cards.
Most importantly, it provides incentive for big spenders to spend more, and medium spenders to become big spenders. You might be thinking, that you personally would never pony up the dough to continue all the cards, but you would be in the minority in that respect. They know what raising pack prices will do, just like they have a good idea of what it will mean to approach the packout the way they are. They have more data than you could ever imagine. If things dont work out the way they expect, and that’s a possibility, they will make adjustments like they have in the past. They want to find the balance between making the most possible money, while losing the fewest possible people.
I wouldnt put much stock in what people say in the comments either. Threatening to leave is as common as a rainstorm in Florida, but rarely do people actually completely walk away. The games have an appeal that is hard to leave from.
Am I excited at this new structure? NOT A CHANCE. It adds cost, and adding cost is like raising taxes.
Do I understand the need for the new structure? YES. I have no issues with them trying to make more money.
Will the community pitch a fit? OF COURSE. They always do, even when good things happen.
Here is the thing guys, the general community wants their fix and they want it in the cheapest possible manner. Remember when Bunt went from a structure where every insert was in every pack to separating things out? Remember how bad the reaction was? Now what is it like? People move on.
More importantly, this does have an upside in a lot of ways that no one really wants to think about. First off, you almost had to be online within 1 hour of every single release of a weekly insert or you were out of luck. In class or a meeting, or hell, on the john? Too bad. Now, the inserts will be in packs longer, and that means that they might build up for better pack pulling odds in the Boba packs. Up until today, there were never more than 1 insert in the packs at once. For the first time yesterday, both Bounty and Galactic Moments were both live at once. As things build up, it will give more time to pull the cards you want, while not having to be on standby. Vintage will be the true test.
The other part of this is that the games werent built for every user to own every card. Its a fact that we need to part ways with very early on. Pare down your collection and really determine which of the sets are going to be your targets. If you want to spend the money, thats up to you. If you dont want to pay in to pull, you can also buy the cards on eBay pretty easily. I doubt the prices will increase more than a few bucks.
As for the communication piece, I know there are people who are upset that this shift wasnt explained earlier on. Although being transparent with your business plan can improve your customers’ happiness level, it may prevent some new users from spending as much as they would have. Topps has always been very close to the vest with plans like this, and for good reason. Fewer people would buy in if they knew the sets were going to be hard to complete. They may be upset when the transition happens, but history shows they dont stop buying.
Basically the draw of the inserts is so great, that enough people will increase their spend to offset the people that leave and then some.
My suggestion is to determine how you feel and pick your targets, as mentioned above. If you want to leave, it makes sense, but that really wont accomplish anything but your personal exit. The show goes on. I would encourage you to reach out via twitter and tell them how you feel, but remember honey attracts more flies than vinegar. Be constructive and make your case, they have a history of taking feedback to heart when logistically possible.
Lastly, understand the landscape of this. Your goal is to have fun and get a big collection. Their goal is to make money while you do that. Both can coexist, and but there will be give and take. They need to communicate as much as they are able, and we need to see the pitfalls ahead without cues.
This is still a brand new app and a brand new community. Although Im sure they were unhappy about needing to piss people off, this is the first of many decisions that will likely have a negative impact. Get ready for more, I can guarantee that.
Even though more are coming, that doesnt mean you cant continue to have fun along the way. Its a game, and they have done quite the job getting me to dive for the bait of new cards, hook, line and sinker. I love Star Wars and this has become a great way to bring back the nostalgic feelings of experiencing the movies for the first time. Its going to be tough to walk away from that.
I hope you all feel the same way.