This was an interesting development, as its clear that we are in a timeframe where changes like this to app structure may be more frequent than ever before. With a bit of a slump taking place across the landscape of digital cards, its becoming clear that something needed to be done, as I have stated many times before.
My main desire was to see more product development take place, improving the user interface and making the games more accessible across the board. More importantly, without a major facelift since 2014, the apps are hurting for some new features that really havent come, period.
To be perfectly clear, the introduction of a secondary currency through real money purchases is NOT one of those features, but it might actually provide some interesting changes to the way users accumulate coins in the app. Some of those changes may be bad, but others may not be all that terrible. If you play any other digital freemium games, Topps is correct in saying that secondary in game currency is far from out of the ordinary.
In a more comparable sense, apps like Madden Mobile and the like have been immensely successful with the way they position their packs, and I dont think Topps plans to be much different in their approach. Madden offers regular packs for coins farmed within the auction house and mini games, but also uses Madden Cash to deliver better odds, better access and special deals for users that spend.
Using a secondary currency may, in fact, be more familiar to new users, who have complained in the past that top cards are not within their reach. It may be easier to understand how the trade value for these premium access offerings may be better than more regularly available inserts. This type of accessibility does present a positive outcome, but only if proper organic tutorial like education is coupled with the onboarding process. Go into an app like the new Angry Birds game, and look at the way that game onboards a new user, versus what happens when someone fires up Bunt or Huddle for the first time.
Additionally, it may slow down coin farmers, who have contributed significantly to the crash of the secondary market. Before, with in game currency presented without effort, it was easy to run emulators and code based farm programs to harvest millions of coins without fail. All they had to do was open the packs themselves, which can be done quite quickly. If premium currency access is required to open the packs, it will hopefully prevent a flood onto ebay with minutes of release. That isnt saying the flood wont come if access is eventually granted, but it could give spenders time to rip packs instead of trying to beat the clock.
As with every new feature, this new change will need to be executed with precision and not carelessly as we have seen in the past. That means everyone at Topps Digital has to understand the strategy, understand how to ensure users dont get so upset that they walk away, and how to message the change to both existing and new users appropriately. Without that in place, this will go the way we have seen so many things go in the past.
Im still holding out hope that major changes will come to reinvigorate the way Topps Digital is seen within the community. We have seen positive changes from both SWCT and Bunt, but the overall commitment to quality needs to remain intact. This is one of those things that could end up being good, but its too early to tell. Hopefully we get more communication in the coming days as Diamonds launch on Bunt.