If you love the digital card scene as much as I do, this was huge news. Probably the biggest news I have experienced as a football fan since first stumbling on Huddle a few years back. Up until this point, Huddle has only had licensing through the NFLPA, limiting the game’s true potential to perform the way Topps’ other fully licensed apps perform. That all changed yesterday.
Since 2012, I have played Huddle and felt that a huge opportunity was being lost because the app was missing the logos and action shot photography, save for weeks 1 and 2 of 2014. It probably goes back to the fact that when the digital apps were conceived, Huddle was likely more of an experiment to see if their MLB licensed baseball formula would work in the NFL.
As a result, the game never reached the same level that Bunt and Kick did, always playing second fiddle due to lack of a league license. Well, I am happy to finally get to experience what Huddle is like with the NFL’s branding power behind it. Here is a breakdown of what Huddle’s new look will mean.
All Huddle cards will now be able to be created with NFL branding. This means the usage of team uniforms, word and watermark logos, and league logos as well. Everything in Huddle will move away from the head shots and airbrushing of years past, and it will function much more like Bunt and Kick in the way cards are done. Logos provide an aesthetic that cant be beat, and with a top level design team for the cards, its no doubt that the app will look great this year.
I can assure you that previous years of Huddle NFLPA cards will not be redesigned to fit the new license, as much as I want them to be. Its too much time without much return on the investment. Im just looking forward thankful that I never have to go back to that situation from 2012-2014.
No more headshots! NO. MORE. HEADSHOTS. With a full league license, the base set can be digitized from Topps Football, and no longer needs to be edited. This means the way a photo looks on every NFL website will now be available to be built into a digital card, similar to Bunt. All inserts will also feature in game photos, and I am already starting to notice that Topps Digital has gone into overdrive so that no rookies are pictured using combine or OTA pictures. Pretty cool to see.
All event and league generated logos are now available for usage in the app. This includes all kickoff, playoff, and Super Bowl signage as well as the NFL Draft and Pro Bowl. Of all the things that present the most potential, this is what is going to be the most refreshing. There is no need to call anything the Big Game anymore, like they had to over the last few years.
This should prove to be pretty interesting, as the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl marketing blitz could find its way to Huddle. I cannot wait to see what happens as the season moves on.
Additionally, all awards can now be called exactly what they are, including MVPs and Players of the Week, directly after the NFL makes them known.
Although legends are a player thing as much as they are a league thing, I would guess NFL history will be a huge part of the plans for 2015 Huddle. I would be remiss to believe that they dont already have a bunch on board, and we will surely see how this impact things. More importantly, all that rich history of Topps’ football presence in physical cards can now be accessed.
Most importantly, with an announcement like this, its clear that Topps has made a significant investment in their digital apps. In all honesty, Huddle could end up being the flagship app with NFL licensing, especially with the popularity of fantasy football. I would assume that they will transition the way the game was marketed into a new blitz of channels, as they now have a product that can compete with any mobile NFL game. Im serious, this is a huge deal.
With Topps no longer being able to produce PHYSICAL cards with current players as of 2016, Huddle should become the only way they remain in the game with rookies and existing players. Its sad that this is the case, but still amazing that Topps Football found a way to live on.
Expect Huddle to be everywhere. Front page of the app store, potentially NFL.com, they will be riding this wave to thousands of more users. That also means that the game is going to change. It very well could end up being a community with size comparable to Star Wars at first, especially as people see it everywhere NFL has online ad space. There will be user attrition, but Huddle is going to explode. This means that it is in your best interest to attain as many of the first few cards as you can, as you dont want to miss out when the tidal wave hits.
I would also expect the new HUDDLE spokesperson – JJ Watt to have a big hand in promoting things, as Trout has for Bunt. They will likely have many other brand ambassador agreements that will showcase what the new game has to offer. Look for the players to get behind this game in terms of promotion.
Overall, this is ONE OF the biggest things to happen to Topps Digital since the launch of their Star Wars Card Trader app. It might even be more important in the grand scheme of things. The NFL is a licensing beast, and one of the most visible brands in the USA. This acquisition cannot be understated, especially with how big fantasy football is to fans. I expect this to be one of the best seasons of any app in the history of all four. What a great day for all us digital weekend warriors who have been around since the beginning.