I am always going to support good ideas. Even though these ideas can be exploited and forced into a situation of Parody, many times they lead to great things in the hobby. One of the more recent great ideas is online hosted group breaking, done live over the net for everyone to see. These online group breaks are supported by easy to use websites, and most of the time, offer a cheaper shot at products normally out of our price range. Just so everyone knows, I am not talking about group breaks on eBay.
Instead of paying an astronomical price for a box of National Treasures Football, or a rent payment for a product like Panini Flawless with the highest box price ever recorded, you can buy a slot for much cheaper on one of these sites. Since many collectors are team collectors, you can even find breaks that offer payment for a specific team. Pay a drastically reduced price (over that of a full box), and get every card pulled from that team. For people like me, who ONLY collect players from a specific team, this is a great way to avoid cleaning out the bank account and still get cards you collect. I have seen people pay less than 50 bucks and end up with a card like this, many times over. I have been a part of breaks when superfractors and logo shields were pulled, and it should be expected with the number of boxes these individuals open.
There is still significant risk, as many breaks do not guarantee you will walk away with anything. People can buy or end up with a team that ends up with no cards, and unlike buying the box whole, collectors will walk away empty handed. Additionally, extreme prices on box breaks can be supported much easier through group breaks, so it can lead to products' pricing staying insanely over inflated. Higher sustained price might end up being both a pro and a con, because of the way some products perform regardless of group breaker involvement, but it prevents reasonable prices from being the peak. Enormously popular boxes can shoot up higher than ever and never come down, all because its still easier to sell slots in a group break.
Panini has even taken things a step further, offering memberships for group breakers that meet qualifications, with the hopes of protecting people from unethical traps and scams. Its a good idea in theory, although there is no guarantee how it will shake out.
The main reason for this focus has to be the number of ebay sellers that sell their group breaks through the auction site, instead of through an unaffiliated website. Because eBay can be a hotbed for attracting shady individuals, its hard to trust that these people are all what they seem. I have yet to buy into a break on eBay, and I would advise against doing so.
Products like Heroes of Sport have even taken to structuring their products for better group breaking logistics, knowing their high end boxes will likely be subject to that type of distribution. Its a great idea, and have led to some big publicity.
Some of the other ripple effects include products that dont perform well, all of which now have an outlet to be opened. Its easy to see how a product that is completely horrible, with no following in the collecting base, now being opened regularly through group break sites. I have to believe this is good in the long run, but it definitely hurts shops that carry them. A product that would have gotten the axe could end up being brought back for a second year due to inflated sales from group breaks. Obviously that is not good for showcasing which sets deserve to remain on the calendar.
If you are going to do a group break, here are all the sites I have used personally without issue:
There are also some other major providers as well:
I would go and check out these sites yourself and get a feel for it. Many of them offer an archive to showcase how it works. I think its a great opportunity to have a shot a big hit without breaking the bank.