With the release of the new app, there is a lot going on. Everyone is scrambling to get set up with their collection, and very few people know what to expect in the coming weeks and months. It feels very much different than the first week of SWCT in that we have context of what might be coming, instead of going in blind. There are a ton of eyes on this release, as everyone knows the boom that is possible. Who knows, there could be tons of content on the way that is beyond anything we have seen before. Here are my main questions.
Question 1: Is there a gameplay element to the app?
Right now, it looks like the app is structured similarly to Star Wars, which I would guess they were hoping to accomplish. That doesnt mean that there isnt some future plan for users to be able to play along. In the Mashable.com article from this morning, we saw that some element of app response will be used along side the show(s), but that could mean anything. We could see live content, app gameplay, something new? Its all unclear, but that is one of the things that makes this so much fun.
Question 2: What will be the anchor insert?
The sports apps all have signature cards as their anchor, and Star Wars has Vintage as their anchor (at least they used to). For both scenarios, the cards carry and carried extreme weight in the trade economy, and on eBay. The original Vintage set was so valuable, its prices made national news. For now, we still have no clue what to expect with the marathon cards, but if the previews are any indication, its going to look great.
Question 3: How much value will the main inserts have?
With so many eyes on the app, Im not sure we are going to have the lightning in a bottle the same way we did with SWCT. So many people came to the app in the first week, and then left, never to return. Although they were replaced tenfold by new users, the cards on their accounts were lost forever. Because EVERYONE in all four of the existing apps will bring cross traffic, im not sure the value will be as high. That’s not saying we wont see some big numbers, just not 150 dollars big. You never know though.
Question 4: How much longevity does this have?
Star Wars is forever. The sports leagues are never going to go away. These things are constant. A television show or shows is a different story all together. Think about it this way, is it possible that a show like the Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead gets cancelled or closes out prior to the app wanting to end? There is an endpoint to every show (unless you are the Simpsons), and though popularity for the franchise is at an all time high, im curious what might happen if that changes. Fear the Walking Dead is a brand new show, and its longevity compared to the original is far from certain. If the show ends, what happens to the app?
Question 5: Will mature content limit the popularity or increase it?
I know this seems like a stupid question to ask, but its a legit one. My son has his own Bunt collection and Huddle collection. He loves ripping packs. He isnt going near this app. Although the blood and gore looks cool, it kind of changes the target market from a younger crod through adults to adults only. That isnt necessarily a bad thing, as blood and gore isnt the taboo it used to be. Plus, as said prior, im not sure you can do this app the right way without it. Because of the graphic detail included in the sets and design, we could see more adults WANT to participate. Adults also have much more disposable income to throw at the content. This could end up being a positive.
Question 6: Will Star Wars Card Trader be used as a model or a warning?
TWDCT is the second entertainment app in the stable, and its hard to prevent people from drawing connections. I also think its hard to avoid the fact that the Star Wars community has gone from one of the tightest knit of all the apps to one of the most divided. Due to a number of situations at play, the content of the app has changed drastically since the start, and it really hurt the way users interact with the game. Although SWCT delivered some of the most intriguing content of all four apps during the last few years, it has also alienated a large portion of its customer base in some aspects. That being said, its still the biggest app Topps Digital has, and its model is something that TWDCT should take note of. From what I see on Twitter, many of the tweets have commented on the parallels, and I dont think that was unexpected. Im hoping the new app establishes its own identity, but I wouldnt be opposed if it took some pages from the playbook of what makes SWCT so much fun.
Question 7: Will the comics ever come into play?
Its no secret that the Walking Dead is not an original concept. It was based on a comic series that might be one of the most critically acclaimed books of all time. Being that is the case, Im curious to see if they have license to use content from the series, even though it is not part of the AMC license currently pictured on the banner. It would likely require a lot of extra planning and to be honest, I would be quite surprised if they can use any of it anytime soon. Because the comic is so good, I hope at some point, its in the cards.
Question 8: Will episode content be a big focus?
Because the episode content is so secretive to prevent spoilers, I want to know how the app is going to deal with people who may not want to know what happens until they get a chance to watch. More importantly, can Topps even get episode content far enough ahead of time to get design work and approvals done to release in a timely fashion. I would guess each season of the show will be represented, but I still havent figured out how they are going to go about it. Personally, I hope live content is available quickly, especially with some of the storylines going on currently.
Question 9: How will Topps use the show’s marketing channels to get new users?
Lets be real here. Millions of people watch the show every week. That’s a lot of people who might want to participate in the app on a limited basis. Because of how large the community is, im curious to see if Topps will run ads or dive deep into the message boards and marketing for the show in a way that drives user count into the stratosphere. If I were in their shoes, I would be sending my marketing team to the mattresses trying to find ways to infiltrate as much of the online community as I can. Blogs like i09 and Mashable are a start, but other mediums like Walker Stalker Con and Wizard World need to be on the radar too.
Question 10: Does this mean more entertainment apps are on the way?
Topps has licenses for Garbage Pail Kids, Doctor Who and others that seem to fit well in a spectrum like TWD. I am very interested to see the future, as this app could be a springboard into licenses that are not multi-billion dollar Disney properties. We need diversity, and that means taking risks on things that might not have appeal on a level like SW does. It gives Topps a way to be the trailblazer in the market, instead of one in 10,000 like they are with Star Wars. Right now, they are the only people in this market for the Walking Dead, and it will be a huge step to show that you dont need Mickey Mouse to help get you an audience. That is a really big test, and I am getting more confident by the day that they are going to pass with flying colors.
Overall, I am beyond excited for this app. Even with all the questions, there is celebration to be had, if not only because app expansion means that there is room for growth in digital cards. If the arena was doing poorly, this would never happen. With such a big array of possibilities out there, this is a great time to be a digital card collector.