Hobby Musings: Hobby Could Take a Cue from Pokemon Go – Like many, I’ve been fascinated by the Pokemon Go app over the past few weeks. Inspired by the popular Pokemon franchise, the app allows you to assume the role of a Pokemon trainer who can go around and search for physical Pokemon. It also incorporates other elements of the original game, including gyms.
The game has become quite the sensation, with people of all ages playing. It has also generated some negative notoriety for incidents of public nuisance generated by people playing the game. Whether it’s people indulging the nostalgia of the original game or youngsters perhaps discovering it for the first time, the Pokemon Go app has done something incredibly rare in today’s day and age by becoming popular across a wide age group.
Over this past weekend, I got to thinking about how great it would be if the trading card community could come up with a similar type of digital game/application. Currently, both Panini and Topps offer digital trading card apps for several sports. Upper Deck offers collectors a chance to pull cards digitally via e-Pack. While the apps have helped expand the physical card community more so into the digital realm, I can’t help but feel that something similar to Pokemon Go could help provide even more of a boost.
One of the complaints I’ve heard about the hobby is that it doesn’t engage and build an audience among youth. While I’ve personally debated that notion, I can see the argument of how cards aren’t stimulating to some younger collectors. Unlike a video game, iPhone or other digital device, it can be hard to get excited over something that frankly doesn’t provide much interactivity other than the initial opening of the pack itself.
Once you pull a card, there’s not much you can really do except sell/trade it or put it in case and look at it. For card lovers like myself, that can often be enough. To an eight-year-old child though, it leaves little to the imagination.
The question is how can card companies combat this? To be fair, they have already taken steps by keeping low-cost products and offering promotions like National Hockey Card Day, which help encourage collectors of all ages to go hobby stores. Having an app that gives people a way to actively go out and seek cards could help to provide that next level of digital excitement.
Imagine giving collectors the chance to go around and find exclusive digital cards in different areas. Card stores could have special days with exclusive cards inside their stores in which all collectors have to do to find the card is enter the store. It may not necessarily lead to increased sales, but it sure could lead to increased foot traffic.
Even better, imagine if the various sports leagues would get involved by having exclusive cards hidden in their stadiums on given days. Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars have already been scheduling special events allowing fans to come into the stadium to try and find the Pokemon that may be hiding inside.
There’s no reason in theory why that couldn’t work with trading cards. Each individual team could have cards made up of their players available in various locations of their stadium. You could also rotate the players on various game days to help add to the challenge. To further enhance the experience and interactivity, a trade option could be added to help collectors increase their collection.
There are obvious hurdles that would prevent this from happening right away. The card companies would have to hire developers to design the app. They’d also have to secure any player/logo rights to make the digital cards. While it would be a challenge, it would be a great chance for the companies, and the leagues, to help increase exposure for trading cards, especially on a digital level.
The possibilities are endless and as Pokemon Go has proven, it’s a model that can have great success. For a hobby that has been striving to get younger and more out into the mainstream, this seems like a realistic tool that can achieve both.
Check out our Pokemon Go How to Guide for Retailers including simple, inexpensive strategies shops are currently using to drive traffic and increase sales.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
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