A few days ago, I wrote out an extended commentary on direct purchase inserts, and why they can be good and bad. One of the things that seems to be a part of the switch to direct purchase is the coin economy, more over, the fact that there seems to be so many floating around. There are some reasons why this started, and some more reasons why it continues. With almost every insert being offered through direct purchase at this point, is it worth keeping your coins? Here are some thoughts.
I think the changes in the coin economy stem from a number of different issues, and a few are easy to pick out. High daily bonuses, drop in value of marathon inserts, fewer sets to chase on a daily basis, more direct purchase, all have an effect on the value of coins. At the same time, the rise in hoarding within the app has put more value on acquisition of many base cards, which means that coins are still very important to that quest.
Similarly, taking all marathons out of the cheaper packs last year, seems to have had a larger impact than even I expected it would. It used to be that everyone in the app lined up for releases of the marathons each day. For many, the daily bonus of 25k coins gave them 25 shots at a pack containing the marathons at 1k each rip. That bonus made it worthwhile to run fast to the app when things were released. When the packs became 5k a rip, many of the daily users decided it was better to go another direction. Vintage and Widevision still had clout, but the other inserts fell considerably in residual value. Now that we are in wave 2, very little of that value from the older marathons has returned.
The advent of selling SWCT inserts on eBay also exacerbated the fallout from the pack switch, as there were fewer people who now wanted to keep the inserts. So many more acquired with the intention to sell, only hurt further by the ever growing crowd of people who just gave up on marathons all together.
More and more people also started up duplicate accounts to keep raking in the coins, as it was still profitable to pick up inserts every day. Around the same time, the cross traffic from other apps also jumped on board with hoarding coins knowing how valuable big releases were.
Today we saw Vintage released in bundle format for the first time in its run. As someone who hates ripping through packs and coming up empty, I was happy to have an option if I so desired. Others saw it as a further devaluation of the coin economy, which is a fair criticism of the program. Coins are dropping in value, but it has as much to do with user behavior as it does with convenience.
Users seem to frequently choose direct purchase over coins, and with so many coins floating around from everything mentioned above, its not shocking that Topps keeps going back to it. Additionally, so many people have a hoard of dupe accounts that they use to funnel cards, that the economy is even further in decline.
Bottom line, if people dont buy coins, Topps doesnt make money. However, many wont buy coins unless they are out, so its a vicious circle that almost needs a course correction or intervention from the team. There are also frequent posts from the community arguing that sets havent been as interesting as of late, which is also something that might need some attention. Although personally I feel that set quality has been quite good as of late, complaints are louder than support.
In terms of course correction, here are some of the ways I would go about it:
- Coin Drain Base Variant – It used to be that green, spectrum and faction packs would hit and people could spend 300k on 500 coin packs because they wanted to stock up. I would think that putting out a base variant card with a rare chase pack prize when its pulled would do wonders.
- Coin Drain Insert Set – Reflections remains one of the most valuable inserts out there because you had to pull a certain card to get access to the pack. If Topps chose the right source material, I feel like a setup like this could be very helpful. Its sole purpose may be to drain the coins from users, but if the wow factor is there, its a big win for everyone.
- Hoarded Insert Set – The community likes hoarding, and sets like Illustrated and Space Paintings are popular because you have to hoard the inserts to get access to the variants. The current posters set is similar, but there is an element of unknown to the size of the hoard needed to get the color inserts. If done the right way with the right set, this could be insane.
- Super Rare No Variant Set – Another reason why Reflection has so much value is because it was tough to get, looked awesome, and had NO VARIANTS. If the community was forced to chase a card at high odds with no variants, I think it could do some damage to the hoarded coins.
- Permanent Hoarding Base Packs – Create a pack that houses only white base and make it available permanently. I think that base have become very much more valuable in recent weeks with the golds, and this is a way to drain the coins on something that so many people are desperate for.
The point to all of this is that there has to be an abandonment of direct purchase for a while to ensure the coins are gone. If the market is regulated, and the coins are drained, the economy might recover. That’s not saying that a one time drain is all that is needed to fix things, but a frequent incidence of these tactics will prevent the economy from dropping even further.
Direct purchase is convenient and it makes a lot of money if done the right way. At the same time, the negative effects can be enormous. The team has to be responsible with its usage, if not only because of the perception the community has. Topps might not even want to address this issue, if not only because so many people just decide to buy the card instead of rip packs with the hope of pulling.
I dont think we are at a point of panic yet, and we might not even be close. There are too many things that can be solved with more attention from the users and more attention from the app’s staff and support. If a critical eye is placed on how to improve user experience while still hitting daily targets, I think the community’s feedback might soften. Im still having fun, and I dont see that changing anytime soon. I know that might not be the case for everyone, but I urge readers to think about it from both sides of the coin.
Topps is a business, and that is never going to be different. Its not worth complaining that they are doing things to increase revenue – that’s their main purpose. However, talking about the issues without solutions is just complaining, and I think we have seen that this type of communication doesnt work. Lend your own voice, but also find ways to be constructive. Your points dont fall on deaf ears, but your complaints will have a deafer ear than a well thought out discussion.
Im sure there are a million suggestions people have, so this is your time to get on twitter and share your voice in a way that isnt adversarial. I think we all want things to be copacetic, so that we can continue our enjoyment of the game. Its time to make that the purpose of our voice.