I cant believe I am getting to write this post. I am freaking out right now. I AM LITERALLY FREAKING OUT.
Since 2012, I have played Huddle and felt that a huge opportunity was being lost because the app was only licensed by the NFLPA. I had a feeling that when the digital apps were conceived, Huddle was likely more of an experiment to see if their baseball formula would work in the NFL. As a result, the game never reached the same level that Bunt and Kick did, always playing second fiddle due to lack of a league license. Well, I am happy to report that those days are OVER. Here is what the full license will mean.
All Huddle cards will now be able to be created with NFL branding. This means the usage of team uniforms, word and watermark logos, and league logos as well. Everything in Huddle will be different now, and it will function much more like Bunt and Kick in the way cards are done.
I can assure you that your existing cards will not be redesigned, as much as we all want them to be. Its too much time without much return on the investment. Just look forward and be thankful that we never have to go back to that situation.
No more headshots! NO. MORE. HEADSHOTS. With a full league license, the base set can be digitized from Topps Football, and no longer needs to be edited. This means the way the photo looks on every website is the way it will look in the game. Amazing to think we no longer have to worry about the way the cards are built.
All event and league generated logos are now available for usage. This includes all kickoff, playoff, and Super Bowl signage as well as the NFL Draft and Pro Bowl. Of all the things that present the most potential, this is what is going to be the most refreshing. There is no need to call anything the Big Game anymore. Call it what it is!
Although legends are a player thing as much as they are a league thing, I would guess NFL history will be a huge part of the plans for 2015 Huddle. I would be remiss to believe that they dont already have a bunch on board, and we will surely see how this impact things. More importantly, all that rich history of Topps’ football presence in physical cards can now be accessed.
Most importantly, with an announcement like this, its clear that Topps has made a significant investment in their digital apps. In all honesty, Huddle could end up being the flagship app with NFL licensing, especially with the popularity of fantasy football. I would assume that they will transition the way the game was marketed into a new blitz of channels, as they now have a product that can compete with any mobile NFL game. Im serious, this is a huge deal.
With Topps no longer being able to produce PHYSICAL cards with current players as of 2016, Huddle should become the only way they remain in the game with rookies and existing players. Its sad that this is the case, but still amazing that Topps Football found a way to live on.
Expect Huddle to be everywhere. Front page of the app store, potentially NFL.com, they will be riding this wave to thousands of more users. That also means that the game is going to change. It very well could end up being a community with size comparable to Star Wars at first, especially as people see it everywhere NFL has online ad space. There will be user attrition, but Huddle is going to explode. This means that it is in your best interest to attain as many of the first few cards as you can, as you dont want to miss out when the tidal wave hits.
I would also expect the new HUDDLE spokesperson – JJ Watt to have a big hand in promoting things, as Trout has for Bunt. They will likely have many other brand ambassador agreements that will showcase what the new game has to offer. Look for the players to get behind this game in terms of promotion.
Overall, this is ONE OF the biggest things to happen to Topps Digital since the launch of SWCT. It might even be more important in the grand scheme of things. The NFL is a licensing beast, and one of the most visible brands in the USA. This acquisition cannot be understated, especially with how big fantasy football is to fans. I expect this to be one of the best seasons of any app in the history of all four. What a great day for all us Huddlers who have been around since the beginning.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if the licensing negotiations among the four parties (Topps, Panini, NFL, and NFLPA) revolved around these points:
– We, Panini hold NFL license digital rights, but we’re too busy making foilboard dreck to concentrate on electronical thinga-ma-apps (did you see our FIFA app? Yeah, nobody else did, either…);
– We, the NFLPA, only really care about who’s got the most butta for our bread. Panini is gonna gives us more money if we go cardboard exclusive-like;
– We, Topps, aren’t interested in overpaying to be exclusive for 19th Century business models for paper products, and want to make…into…the…Future!
– We, NFL Properties, will grant digital rights to Topps, because, you…well…have a product today on Internet Machines, and Panini…doesn’t…and we would like to make some money today.
– Topps keeps the digital NFLPA license for HUDDLE, and gains the NFL Properties digital license to match, because the two league licensors generally prefer matchy-matchy products.
– Panini gets an exclusive foilboard-and-autograph-sticker matchy-matchy situation between NFL and NFLPA.
It’s weird to have Topps celebrating 60 years of physical football cards, and then…soon…not.
I have to admit, Panini’s painfully artless and antiquated design aesthetic already pushed me away from their NBA and NFL cards years ago. I don’t even try them out of curiosity anymore, both anticipating and rewarding disappointment every time.
Panini is like the McDonald’s of the card industry. Seemingly ever-present, cookie-cutter by design, crushing sameness of product year after year, and a shiny front end that hides a lack of quality underneath.
I don’t mind watching crime pirates like Upper Deck slowly dissolve into irrelevancy over time, but I just wish the exclusives wouldn’t land in Panini’s design-by-Politburo hands practically every time.