One of the ways that I believe that the gaming industry has gone far beyond that of the card industry is the expansion into markets that many of its customers value. For companies that have made a fortune on gaming, many of them have instituted online elements to their products to encourage interactive content in addition to the actual concepts involved with the games. I think this is an area that the card companies have failed miserably on, even though things like the Million Card Giveaway and other online based promotions have faired quite well in their success with the collecting public.
Because so much of the card hobby is based on one of a kind or few of a kind situations, it would be really cool if the companies could find a way to add the online experience to the cards they produce. One way I believe that they could do this is by tracking the serial numbers through an online database. For instance, lets say you pull an Adrian Peterson autograph numbered 2/5 out of a pack of Topps. On the back of the card, there would be a code to add it to your “online collection” on the Topps website. There you would be able to add commentary on the card, a picture, and whatever else you feel is relevant to the card. Other collectors would be able to see who owns the card and if you want to sell/trade it.
Then, lets say, you do want to sell the card and someone buys it off of you. The person can then enter the code and add their comments to the card. It would add a “history” to the card that anyone can view, or the owner could see who has had the card before them. It would also be a way to legitimize the patches a little more, because it would be easy to see if things have changed over the course of the card’s history. All would be hosted on the card company’s website, and would provide an element of chase to see who could build the best collection of whatever element of the product they choose. Because so many cards are serially numbered, I would think this could be a huge amount of fun to help collectors use the internet and online community to their advantage.
On top of that, it would be that much easier to locate cards you want, as specific serial numbers would easily be something worth looking for on this. I also think that online packs and achievements would add a game element to a product, and would add a lot of potential profit without a lot of extra cost. All of this could be lost due to licensing restrictions, but I think its something worth exploring. I mean, how much of cards is based on history and historical significance, a factor that would be highlighted by seeing the history of the specific card in your hand.
Another idea, one specifically based on combatting fakes, would be the online patch database that so many of us have been clamoring for the last few years. This database would prevent all those fakes from cards that have ridiculous patches to start, because you could easily compare the current patch with the one in the database. If it doesnt match, well, then you dont buy.
Although etopps is something that has been around for a long time, I am hoping that down the road sometime, we can have something built around the internet to highlight those other parts of things that many of the collectors out there also work with.