Back when the VIP program was launched in 2014 Bunt, I was very supportive of the rewards given to people who regularly spent money on the app. Being that spending greatly influences app success in almost every way, there are a lot of reasons why Topps should take care of these customers.
With the launch of SWCT and 2016 Huddle, the VIP program was either not introduced or phased out. It continued through Bunt and Kick through the year, and as a result, there seemed to be much more of a positive culture around the spending in the app. In SWCT and Huddle, spending is thought of in a very resentful fashion, where in the other apps, that isnt as much of a sentiment. It exists, but I almost feel like the presence of the VIP program has softened the negativity around premium programs.
Now, that’s not saying that VIP cures all that ails the community, but it adds a level of reward that can change the way people think about their spending. Bunt recently announced that their VIP program will be revamped for the offseason, including more of a focus in the participation in their Box Breaks, instead of sums of coins. Users will also maintain the 10k per day bonus, where everyone else will be dropped to 2500.
Either way, I definitely believe that a VIP program’s omission from SWCT and Huddle were likely poor choices in hindsight. Considering how much likely goes into the approval process with licensing bodies with each app, the added content could be difficult, but rewarding in other ways like we are seeing with Bunt is really something I hope they reconsider.
As mentioned before, the act of spending in its own right is something that deserves an added benefit to usage of the app. Although its clear that there is added work for the Topps team, the VIP program has community benefits in that users may not react as negatively to spending driven programs. It wont remove all negativity, but it might actually encourage people to spend more than they would normally. Giving these additional benefits, especially on the side of low count reward cards, will provide quite a bit of added value that shouldnt be minimized.
Here are some of my thoughts on how I would approach a program like VIP, especially in a long approval process like I expect to be the case with Huddle and SWCT.
- Coins – the act of “paying people back” goes a long way on the gold and black levels.
- VIP Level Based Cards – This type of delivery device will provide exclusivity and status to the people that choose to keep them, or valuable trade bait if not.
- VIP Packs – These have ranged from great value to really worthless, and it all depends on the content. The program where VIPs could rip packs and pull special cards that delivered coins or exclusive cards was awesome.
- VIP Sigs – These are great cards that have been nerfed at times because of the way the cards are packed out.
- Other VIP Cards – Like the VIP sigs, it all depends on how these are packed out
- Box access – See most recent Bunt program announcement
- Increased Daily Coins – See most recent Bunt program announcement
- Free inserts – Diamond VIPs have been given free inserts of their choice in the past.
- Better pack odds – Would be great to see VIPs get better odds on certain packs
- Special sets – Season long sets aimed at creating season long VIP spenders, or making it more lucrative to continue to be a VIP
- Early Pack Access – we have seen master access be granted early in SWCT, but the packs in which the cards were available are not worth spending the extra coins. If VIPs could get early access to normal packs, that is much more attractive. The earlier the access the more valuable the access is. What if Diamond Access was a day in advance? Crazy to think about the incentive.
- Special Variants – VIP variants would be something that add to someone’s desire to attain VIP status
- Instant VIP purchase levels – Give users the option to buy instantly or qualify through the month
- Public VIP criteria – No one ever knows how much spending is involved to acheive VIP, and that needs to change for Black and Gold. For Diamond, it should just be a set number of top spenders at the top of the amount spent list.
- Instant achievement – if you qualify for VIP, you should know right away. Would be cool to give extra weeks of VIP access to people who qualify for the next month early.
The VIP program has inherent positive results in a lot of ways. I mentioned some through the course of the post, but here is a more succinct version.
- Gives users a reward for spending more than the casual user
- Recognizes the users who spends
- Provides value for usage in the app outside of spending
- Potentially takes the edge off of user reaction to spending
- Can encourage more competition among spenders
- Can encourage more spending and better user participation in certain programs
In addition to the positives, there are definitely a lot of negatives as well. This might might relate to some of the reasons why the programs were changed or omitted in the cases we have seen recently.
- Creates resentment among non-spenders
- Hard to manage users
- Added work in building and delivering content
- Complaints when users have issues with qualifications
Again, many of my observations are done in a vacuum without consideration from the time needed to execute the different elements of the program. I just fail to see how it could hurt. Adding a playoff VIP program for Huddle could be huge. SWCT doesnt have a season, so it can be instituted at any time, even more worth considering as the new builds are launched for 2016.