I can literally line out the strategy for every Topps Digital release in the sports apps, and as I have mentioned before, it has kind of sucked the life out of my participation in the apps. Basically, for the last two years, every set has gone like this:
- Multiple smaller waves of cards – usually at least 3
- A 10 card base set
- 2 insert sets of about 5-10 cards
- A “highly collectible” subset of very limited cards – usually about 5 subjects
Every so often we get something more fun, but its becoming way too few and far between. Its the main reason why Inception sells out literally 5 seconds after its released, people are so desperate for content that brings them back to three years ago, that they clamor for it like nothing else.
I have actually gravitated towards the Panini apps lately because they have such huge sets with tons of limited content. I miss the days when Topps went that same direction. The main reason I am always given for why some of the sets are smaller on Huddle and Bunt is because of the original content that is required to be designed prior to the set’s release. I actually understand this challenge, because Topps has always had a small team to provide the original content for all their apps. Panini has taken to just digitizing all the different parts of a physical set.
Unfortunately for Topps, thats only available in a few of their apps, but it hasnt been embraced at all either. Bunt does release a lot of digitized content, but not enough in a large enough batch. They select a few cards from each product and build a small release, and that’s what I have been so disappointed with.
For once, I am asking them to go back to the old way. I want a real release of TONS of cards, lots of variants with limited runs, and a shit ton of fun stuff to chase. I know the overuse of variant parallels had poisoned SWCT for a very long time, but its been long enough you can go back to that balance. Im not saying that its time to bring back the base variant strategy in all the apps, what I am saying is that its time to bring back a balance, or at least one big set that we can all enjoy.
Topps seems to want to avoid a velvet rope around some of their sets, with VIPs a focus in delivering top limited content, but that is where I think the apps will flourish back to where they at least were a year or so ago. Right now, if you look at the public rankings that show spending trends, they seem to be struggling to reach even a fraction of the consistent highs they were reaching before. Im seeing some leadership turnover on linkedin, as well, something that seems to be inevitable in a downturn. All the people I used to have relationships with are pretty much gone, and Im hoping that the new guard will realize how important it is to build a foundation of the previous years to foster in a new strategic approach.
At some point, we can only hope that they will figure out the balance that is needed to appease the two very distinct group of individuals within the app communities. The first being the spending group, who values action, limited content and perks of spending, vs the free to play group who doesnt want to feel like they are the non-patron at the bar ordering water in the middle of happy hour.
I feel there are very easy ways to find that balance, without also enabling people who cheat to rack up coins in multiple accounts through emulators and farming tactics. Unfortunately, I feel like the current team devising the strategy is only looking to appease their leadership instead of finding ways to engage with the community to figure out what WE find interesting.
Ill tell you this, as someone who has spent a godawful amount of money on these apps, Im pretty fucking bored. I think there are good things that happen periodically, but I am no longer on the apps unless there is a release I want to chase. I feel like my activity is painfully evident of a lack of viable entertainment within the tired platform that only has gotten a visual update from 2014 as of a few months ago. Its time to either A) find a way to recapture some of what we had prior, through compelling content and chases that capture our excitement, or B) scrap the whole approach and start over with a fresh directive that would likely benefit from all the new leadership in play.
I miss the old days in that vein, and hopefully we can find a way to voice enough of a desire to return temporarily for a few shits and giggles.