For the first time since Kick’s failed update to a brand new format two years ago, Topps Digital has released a brand new feature to one of its apps. Instead of a visual update or an adjustment to the platform, Batter Up is completely new, and for the most part pretty fun. My criticism of late has been around a lack of focus around product development, and now that we have a new approach, should we be happy this type of thing has taken priority? Lets discuss.
Batter Up is a pretty simple mini game that has some nice potential to get fans some minor amounts of added coins with no extra spending. If you play the game right, you might be able to walk away with 10-15k in extra coins per day easy.
The game requires users to drag one of 5 cards from the field of play to the batter’s box, with each card representing a “play.” It can be a ball, a strike, a hit (Single, double, etc), a home run, a grand slam or a featured card.
Within each “inning” of the five cards, four will be positive, and one will be a strike. Three strikes ends the game and four balls resets the count. You can choose 3 of 5 of the cards before the next inning, and 27 plays means the game session ends.
Each player can have 33 tickets at a time, and there are two options for playing. The premium 10 ticket game, or the basic 5 ticket game. Tickets regenerate throughout the day, and each of the games has a different set of cards to chase. Right now they are heritage base cards.
Prizes are either coins, white base cards or featured base cards, and you can walk away with what you earn at any point. Strike out and you lose everything.
Thoughts on the Game
I think the game functionality is addicting and fun, but for a digital trading card game, the feel and look of the game just doesnt really fit for me. I could see Topps using Batter Up as a promotional tool for Bunt, housed on a website instead of an app, but taking up space in the app seems like a waste.
For those people who remember Kick’s failed 5 a side, this is a similar type Mini Game with less depth and less interest in a long term session with the app. I honestly think the time spend developing this feature would have been better used in any of the ways I discussed in my previous product development article, and that’s what is so frustrating about the way Topps Digital has approached their business so far for 2016 and 2017. Less focus on things that would ACTUALLY contribute to more users in the app, and more focus on inconsequential features that only add a thin layer of complexity to how users engage with the apps.
I want to see Topps really dive into the user experience and developing features that TRULY have major impact in the game’s overall footprint. I discussed what some of those would be, and how it could make things more accessible for new users. This seems like a cheap way to get existing users to pay attention for a split second while adding no real meat to improving the overall app.
Similarly, im not sure how the back end infrastructure will be able to support this new game, although it seems fine at the moment. Adding this type of minigame for other apps may complicate things, although they may have learned a sizing lesson when Kick crashed.
Addressing the Future
If Topps Digital is going to survive, they need to spend their time wisely. If users are on their way out, they need to look at the way their prod dev team is planning to address projects and hit with extreme force in getting the most impactful things done first. If all of those things were done, and Topps was in a better place with their digital community, this would have been a fun little thing. Instead, Im left questioning who made the call to spend time doing Batter Up instead of something more useful in the grand scheme of the app environment.