I’ll admit that I haven’t exactly followed the digital card trade in this hobby, from eTopps and Topps Bunt to Upper Deck’s latest e-Packs, though the latter seems to make the most sense to me as it follows the basic collecting format with the option of getting physical cards in the process.
But that might be starting to change for me. I have been exposed to digital cards in a place I didn’t expect it – my son’s game he plays on the iPad. The general premise of the game is to own dragons, “power them up” to different levels and do battle with other dragons. You are able to power up the dragons by growing food, harvesting it and getting gold in return.
However, a way to improve your dragon team even faster is by buying digital packs that include more powerful dragons and other options to help your standing in the game. You could download the game for free, so this is one way to take in some money on the backend. And it works. Kids are invested in these game time-wise and the way to move on to bigger things in the game is to buy these packs and reap the rewards. There it is: Bring kids in for free, get them hooked and then offer pay-to-play options for even greater game play. This is where the current young generation is playing and “collecting.”
Perhaps there are options out there right now like that. Let’s say you start with a basic lineup of players, but you can pay to boost your player’s ability, be it a pitcher, outfielder or running back. But maybe they should make the players even more animated. Let’s say you start out with a rail-thin player like Craig Counsell dropping singles over the second basemen’s head. But you can buy special sunflower seeds that eventually turn your Counsell-like player into an Adam Dunn-like monster. Selling packs that might include an Adam Dunn right off the bat would be part of the game.
It’s the same concept of my son’s dragon game, but it involves real players in real sports that could carry over to collecting physical cards.
I’m sure this has been brought up by the powers that be among trading card manufacturers since this supposedly has been a hot-button topic for decades, and maybe the transition rate isn’t that good from a game-player-to-actual-collector. But I can say this was the first time my son had any interest in opening packs of anything. Non-sport gaming card companies are way ahead of the game in those terms.
Perhaps another way to garner more attention for physical sports cards is to try a different strategy on the backs of the cards. Yes, put some statistics on the backs of the cards, but maybe not every year for a veteran who has enjoyed 15 professional seasons. Young kids tend to glaze over all the numbers.
What’s the appeal of Pokemon cards? They show a character’s power level or ability to inflict so much damage. What if Mike Trout’s card reference something to the effect that he’s 80 times more of a home run threat than William Holbert. Make the players more like characters.
Yes, I know this isn’t for purists, but if you truly want a younger audience to enjoy this hobby, try something vastly different. What’s been done to this point is a half-hearted attempt that hasn’t achieved much success.