With the release of their newest app, Topps is going back to the well of the major national sports with 2017 NHL Skate, released today on Android and iOS. Interestingly enough, this is the first sports app released without a physical license, and should catapult Topps back into the hockey hobby, something they havent been competitive in for many years.
Currently, Upper Deck owns the exclusive rights to physcial NHL cards, although as mentioned many times in the past, physical and digital are two different entities in sports licensing. Topps has done NHL in the past, but never really had a modern presence the way that Upper Deck has had for over 15 years.
With Skate, Topps ventures back into frozen waters, knowing that a vast landscape of collectors will take notice, and open up their digital apps to an international flavor, similar to what they have in Kick. With such a huge international collecting presence, Skate will need to capitalize on users both domestically and abroad. Of course, this wont be easy, and though they have major success overseas with Kick, Hockey is a completely different beast.
Since moving off Bunt to take this product, ToppsMike will be in charge of uncharted territory once again. In seeing some of the cards, I am very impressed with the look and design, and quirky sets like Hockey Hugs look to be a fun way to keep people engaged early.
I have to believe that contests will be a focus of this app, and hopefully there will be many ways to onboard new users in a way that makes the contests easy to understand. New user relations are something that many of the recent app releases have struggled with, likely because the producers are relatively new themselves. With someone like Mike at the helm, I would guess he will not waste time in putting education and onboarding at the top of the priority list.
In all reality, its clear that Topps hasnt had a good experience in launching every one of their apps, but almost all have found a niche among digital collectors. With NHL among the four major sports, this is going to be a much more visible app than we have seen with some of the other releases.
Stay tuned to @toppsNHL for more updates on the app, and news regarding the cards. Ill have more coverage as the season goes on.