Are Physical Prizes the Next Big Thing?

We all play digital for a reason. Whether its to pass the time while bored at work, or more of an investment in a hobby, there are reasons why people love what Topps has done with their digital platform. Its cool to think that there are cards to be bought while binging Netflix at 3am in your pajamas, and the question is whether or not that will continue to be a novelty worth spending money on.

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As we have seen in Bunt and Huddle over the last two playoff campaigns, and expanded on with other contests for the physical releases on the baseball side, physical prizes for digital contests definitely have the allure unlike anything else. They generate some major buzz too, as we have seen with New Era offering signed caps for winners of recent contests during the world series.

The issue is that it requires a level of confidence in the functionality of the platform, and a lot of money for the users to be competitive enough to participate. Because physical prizes are only offered for the top users, you cant skate by and hope to be competitive on any real level. For the low to mid spenders out there, that means likely giving up on some of the rest of the chases you are engaged in, to focus 100% of your investment in the app. For free players, it means that you are likely out of the competition all together.

That isnt the only issue either – it has to do with people who cheat within the game, either by using emulators or other means to farm coins and get an unfair advantage within the checklists of the cards needed to win. Even if direct purchase is required, having a ton of cards at your disposal to trade means that it isnt hard to get what is needed to be at the top.  There are many accusations floating around, some seemingly legitimate, that the people who are winning some of the prizes are not doing so through legitimate means.

Being that this undermines the confidence in the prize delivery, is this something we can continue to see as the next big thing? With more and more physical and digital crossover on the product side, I think we are far from the end of this type of reward. I just hope that as the Topps Digital team figures out that people are exploiting the registration process and the coins that come with it, that part of things will also be negated.

For free players, as Tapjoy becomes more and more lucrative with double payout sales, that is also a way to get people more involved without spending real money on things that are only contained within your phone. Bottom line, I like the direction this is going, and I hope that as things continue to grow within digital, we see more growth on prizes as well.

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