Right now, there is a pretty visible split in the community about the period between the end of the previous 30 week marathons and the new marathons that launched this past weekend. Some saw it as a quirky time where fun sets and lots of variants were enough to pass the time. Others saw it as a complete departure from the point of the app, focused on squeezing every last dollar out of the community.
In reality it was probably some of both, as there were some great looking cards that hit the app after the end of week 30. There were also a ton of expensive base and insert variants that seemed overly repetitive. I really didnt think that much of it, because I knew the marathons would start again. Luckily for all of us, my prediction of early 2016 with a new app build was not correct.
So, this whole situation begs the question of what type of impact these new marathons will have on a community divided by the “offseason” period where no marathons were released.
Why New Marathons Will Be Awesome
When SWCT started, it was clear that collecting sets was going to be a humongous part of the app. At first, it was the only part of the app. Although the advent of hoarding and the Smuggler’s Den have added new elements to the game, the main concept still rings true.
Marathons were the most important sets in the app, and will likely remain so for the sequel to the original wave of releases. Sets like Vintage ran the trade economy to a point, with Widevision and others not far behind. When the marathons encountered production delays, the app pitched a fit. It was a situation that almost required people to set their watches each day to ensure that they didnt miss out on the sets they collected.
When that element went away (save for Galactic Moments’ enormous delay), it was clear that a solid majority of the app population would be looking for a replacement until the Topps Digital team decided how to proceed. Some were okay with being patient, while others got increasingly frustrated with content not meeting their standards set by the wonderful marathon releases. For others, the conclusion of the marathons even brought a surly response, with dissatisfaction over the award cards, award distribution and the like. Lets face it, a time without a cause, like the marathons provided, made/makes people really cranky.
Now that we are back, the initial releases showcased how much fervor could be generated around the sets. The release of the first Vintage card on Thursday wreaked havoc on the servers for the first time in months, and Widevision wasnt much different. Not only were people excited, but so many wanted to get in on week 1, that the tech behind the app couldnt handle the volume. That is pretty promising.
Ebay Values for the Vintage and WV look pretty nice as well, even though it doesnt invoke the prices of Han and Obi Wan:
Obviously, server crashes and insanity wont be the case every week, but it shows there is still an immense amount of interest to start the marathons over again. Although many will drop off, quite a huge proportion of the chasers will not. These types of things just bring people together.
At its core, the creation of new marathon sets will continue to ensure that users keep coming back every day. For Topps it means more money, but for us, it means more people on the fan feed and articles looking to trade, and more activity within the app. This is a great thing.
With Force Awakens at 3 weeks and counting, this is only going to get better, and I am excited to see how this all turns out.
Why the New Marathons Arent a Big Deal
For every positive side of the story, there is a negative, and there are a few with this scenario as well. As mentioned above, there is a lot of unrest within the app, mostly around the strategy employed to keep people around while Topps sorted out the way all of this was going to look.
Because of the frustration and dissatisfaction that exists, many users may be so disenfranchised that the release of new sets wont be enough to bring them back from the dark side. I understand this feeling, even though its not one I have personally.
To these users, they feel that Topps showed them that the time between the sets was more about the money than creating compelling content. Even though there were great sets available, the main focus wasnt what people were looking for in a time where the daily chase was gone.
That’s not saying that all is lost for these individuals, but I will say that it looks like they will consider the releases with a skeptical eye until they feel that Topps has proved themselves again. If similar experiences in Bunt and Huddle are any indication, this might be an insurmountable task for the team.
I would guess that many will not be completely out, as the draw to open packs with free coins is just too much. At the same time, Topps has to bank that the new marathons will generate enough revenue to replace the people who decided that the current state of SWCT was not for them.
To be completely honest, im not even sure how I would offer an olive branch if I were Topps, but something like a VIP program is probably a good start. Users will complain about the money every chance they get without a doubt, but I feel like the complaints tend to be of a different tone when VIP is part of the game.
I am not positive that any one program will change people’s mind, but incremental little steps are definitely worth considering.
Overall, I could not be more excited to have a new chase that dominates my experience daily on the app. I have waited to see this type of race begin again, and this time, there are some new wrinkles. Check back as we see what Topps has in store.