The Dreaded Marathon Replacement Conversation

Star Wars and the sports apps I play have used Marathons as a vehicle since 2014, and even before that point, there were aspects of the tactic used in Bunt and Huddle. The issue is that Im not sure its as vital a part of the app’s appeal, unlike previous years. The discussion becomes an inventory of whether or not marathons still make sense, and if no, what should be used to replace that weekly draw?

Marathon Viability

I would be shocked if the sports apps consider the weekly releases to be anything more than a formality these days, save maybe Limited and Signature Series in Bunt. Because Bunt still has such a huge contingent of users who will spend and want premium content, those releases still maintain a certain pull with the community. In Star Wars, people still look to acquire the marathons themselves, but the trade value and ebay value of the cards in a singular fashion is very low as a whole. Its not like it used to be, and it might just be a result of the downturn that has taken place for the last year plus.

For an app like Huddle or Skate, contests are much more of a focus than collecting, unless something is crazy low count, and I dont see many of the marathons fulfilling those requirements. They can boost the marathons to high hell, but in reality, there just isnt much reason to collect them like there was back in 2014.

The reason is the proliferation of low count cards as a method of driving buying habits, and even more so, a downturn in user traffic as a whole. Not as many people play, in part because the marathons and reasons to check in daily in the app havent changed for years.

Changing the Marathon Conversation

This is where things get dicey. Topps needs to deliver daily content to keep users engaged every single day of the year. Most times that is multiple tmies per day. They need to do this with 1-2 people per app, and maybe a dedicated designer if they are set up that way. That means sets and templates help, as does a standardized release calendar. Starting to be clear why these sets were chosen right?

Boxes have already shown to be an interesting venture, depending on how the content is created or digitized from a physical product. We have also seen the use of large sets released in waves that can be a good way for users to go nuts around content.

In all reality, it comes down to how the content is delivered in my opinion, not necessarily the length, size or duration of the release. If something looks cool, it will sell. If the functionality behind it is cool, it will sell. If it looks boring, or people lose interest, it will die on the vine.

Based on that, losing interest really tends to be a huge issue with the marathons, as the long set release structure can be a detriment to the value more than a help. It can keep users engaged long term too, but when new user onboarding is such a big issue, someone that joins the app mid season doesnt really have the same feeling as if they had been there from week 1. Its almost in Topps’ best interest to ensure that there are more starting points available on any given cycle, even outside of the normal weekly chase sets that are released.

What Does This All Mean?

All that being said, Marathons ARE fun. They ARE interesting. They just arent what they used to be to me, and that is kind of a reason why we need to continue moving onward and upward. At some undetermined point in the future, there will be some brand new tech feature that may make all of this discussion obsolete. We already saw some of this with the release of the new build, but it all comes down to more of what they do with that homegrown type of setup.

I want to see more ways to engage with the app as a whole, more stuff that isnt just coming in daily, collecting my bonus, ripping a few packs and doing a few trades. That hasnt changed in years, and frankly it needs to. Moving on from the shackles of a 30 week set might be a way to share that in a fresh way. I know there will be users who wont agree, but they also fear what the replacement might look like. If the way Marathons change is awesome, then no biggie right?

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One Response to The Dreaded Marathon Replacement Conversation

  1. WatchGeek says:

    I think we’ve already had a glimpse in to the “new marathons”. The first one is the “mystery base card”…which started a few weeks back. I actually like this one. The fact that the drop is unannounced, different time of the day, limited drop, quick rewards (I think it’s every 3-4 cards) and you have to “find” the pack that makes it different and entertaining.

    The second, third, and fourth ones are a bit of a stretch. Still, I think they could be called mini marathons…10+ cards, long-ish odds, and interesting subject matter. I’m referring to “Helmets of the Galaxy” (which just completed), “Phantom Menace Concept”, and “Aquarelle”. I went for the helmets using the super pack option and don’t feel I spent all that much to get them with being able to “1-pack” (at 75k credits/pack) 5 or 6 of the 11 cards.

    …or…maybe, I’m wrong…

    Anyway…I loved the helmets and sure hope that Boba Fett’s is the award. I do hope they put out a second series as not a single Rebel helmet was featured (where’s the X-Wing pilot, Rebel troopers, Hoth trooper, ship crew, etc.)

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