Yesterday, the release of the Rebel Ceremony Chase marked the launch of another program that uses the base cards as a vehicle. These variants were positioned like a pack journey, with each pack unlocked as you pull the Ceremony card for that step. I actually thought it worked really well, and the cards looked pretty cool with the gradient used on the border. The question is, have we reached oversaturation to the point where it doesnt matter?
I think there are two sides to the argument, and its worth looking at this from both sides to gain perspective on where you might fit in.
The More the Merrier
A weird thing has happened with SWCT, something that really hasnt happened in ANY of the other apps prior to the launch of the game. People care about base cards, and there is someone that cares about each and every card from even the most obscure of the cards in circulation. The question of which character you hoard is about as standard of an introduction as saying hello these days, and it is a big reason why base variants continue to be successful.
Because so many collectors out there MUST have at least one of every base card of their target character, the Topps Digital team has a much longer rope in releasing base variants than they would in any other app. It might get to a point where they dont sell, but no matter how much complaining occurs with the 1000 or so people that read and comment in the articles, the other 30k daily users dont really agree. They buy and buy and buy, because its fun to have the best Jocasta Nu collection in the game.
As long as the general app population continues to find interest in the base variants, they will continue to be released. Because the images are probably able to be reused without going through the licensing body, I would assume variants are easy to push through, as long as the colors and backgrounds dont contrast with the character branding. Easy to release cards that people love have to be a big reason why these programs come out more than some would like. It also keeps hoarding collectors on their toes, which serves a large purpose in generating the trade economy and other aspects of the game.
Enough is Enough
There are only so many colors that can be released before we all have to step back and ask what is really the purpose here. Although collectors continue to buy and buy, they are doing it out of obligation instead of desire to collect, many would argue. Eventually, obligation becomes resentment, and that’s when the comments turn ugly. Thats when user attrition starts to rear its head. People want collecting to be fun, not a chore.
Regardless of the pack format, the cards released during the base variant programs are not anything really that special. Many of them have been around since day 1, and to see that base variants exist over and over again without new images is not what tired collectors are looking for. If the variants had a change other than the borders, maybe people would get more excited.
Lastly, adding targets for hoarders isnt something that all of them appreciate – especially for the fringe characters. Many collectors have chosen obscure targets because they believed that they wouldnt have to put up with many extra cards. They wanted to keep costs low, regardless of how Topps feels about non-paying or low-paying users.
I think that unique pack formats and interesting release structures are exactly what needs to continue. Think of cool and creative ways to use the Den, combined with rewarding certain users who collect those characters. Something like offering better odds or different cards for users who have reached a certain hoard level of base cards. Users with 1000 Plo Koon should have a better shot or different reward if a Plo Koon variant hits the sheet. The monuments do a lot of these types of things, but not in a way that impacts the base variant inserts themselves.
On a secondary consideration, I would also consider different photos, with an explicit message that new base cards for that character will not bear that image. Make it a one time thing to give the base variant more value. Where Darth Maul has the dual lightsaber pic on his card, maybe the variant has the hooded menace.
Overall, the variants have to stay fresh. Without a fresh take, eventually that obligation will take hold with more users, and resentment will start. The marathon-less offseason is not a time to build resentment, in my opinion, especially with a big movie on the way.
I have been thinking very much along these lines lately. In the beginning it was teals, greens/orange, and the award purple. Then they added spectrum. Then den variants. Then crimson. Then…
Now we have so many forms of these base variants that its getting old. Dont get me wrong tho; I have many, many of the variants and have enjoyed collecting them, especially the SD gold shreds. However I am losing interest as more and more are released without changing the image like your suggested. After all, it is a VARIANT, why not use a variant image? Like your said, its about being able to put these out without extral approval requests.
With many characters now having multiple variants, it is IMO decreasing the value across the board. Hopefully Topps will take notice to this, or already has, and will make proactive choices moving forward.