Panini announced today that their redemption programs would be changing, being replaced by points in packs that can be “redeemed” via an app on your phone or computer. These points are not player specific, and it will let collectors choose their card to be redeemed as the players sign. Different players get different points.
All this being said, I have an opinion, obviously. It may be surprising to you, but I don’t have a problem with Redemptions, and in all honesty – you shouldn’t either.
Redemptions ARE NOT THE PROBLEM. The problem is what happens when they are not fulfilled in a timely matter, if at all. Most people are fine with waiting a few months for their player to sign, as long as they sign. As I have said before, most collectors have a scope to their collections, whether it is a team or a player. Wax breakers also have a scope, especially when it gets to the ones that bust high end. If the redemptions no longer have player names on them, it removes a big element to a main pillar of the hobby. If the majority of customers function in this fashion, im hesitant to say its a good idea to remove that element from any program run by a manufacturer.
Redemptions can carry immense value, and for the most part, they do eventually get filled. All of these big cards were redemptions at one point:
That’s not saying this isn’t a great idea. Not at all, I give Panini a ton of credit for taking a risk like this. It begs a million different questions surrounding points expiration, box content, schedule of signings, communication of store offerings, all sorts of stuff like that. On paper this could work, barring any of the above situation. It also gives Panini a ton of incentive to get their content live in packs, because otherwise its not going to be on the checklist until its available in the app’s store.
Here is the main issue. Big name players, especially non-rookies, only sign a few times per year. Does this mean that products now go without those names until they do sign? Doesnt spell good for cards that would have been redemptions in the past. Don’t let this fool you, there are still redemptions, just not in the same fashion, and that might create some ripples that Panini doesn’t quite understand yet. Eventually, if only the lower tier players sign, does that mean the content of the store is just a bunch of junk no one else wanted? Collectors will just be left holding their points in the same fashion they used to hold redemptions. Although this time, there is no guarantee of what player they will be able to get.
In my opinion, what should have happened, is that the player name is still on the redemption. If you are waiting for too long, you can choose to take the points to buy stuff from the store. Then, if you want, you can pick out what you want as a replacement. This would basically kill two birds with one stone. Points will have an exchange rate, and their allotment per card can be determined by the market. That way, in a hobby where collection targets will be injured by any content that cant be packed out at release, you still can have that promise of the card in your mailbox IF it is made. If it isn’t made, well then you get your points.
Here is another thing I have to give credit to Panini about, especially in regards to the scope of the program. If the above solution was implemented, its obvious that the center stage would still be the cards outstanding. Instead we now have full scale implementation, which FORCES them to put great stuff in the app store if they want people to continue buying their products. This includes, from what I understand, a lot of content signed through Panini Authentic, which is a great outlet for a program like this. I would guess unopened product will also be an option, as will some of the promotional stuff like the black boxes.
I see a plethora of open doors now that we know something like this can exist. It gives collectors an out, but it may not be the solution we deserve. Hopefully we get some more clarification of the program, how it effects box hits, and all those rules that we know are coming. I am giddy at the idea of a new world, but extremely skeptical of what it will mean for the content I like. Currently I have 15 redemptions in process with either of the big two. I will wait for signing on all but 2, regardless of timeframe. That should say something.
The more I think about it the more concerned I get. There was a Q and A posted, and already we are getting responses like this from Panini: “unless we are running a specific promotion and we want to add points just to reward the consumer.” Does anyone else see this as a vehicle to replace the addition of cards to a certain product? Lets say Panini doesnt want to design another group of cards for an upcoming release, what’s to stop them from just throwing a bunch of points in there instead? Whose to say they wont add them to their big giveaways, or even sell them on an exchange rate. There is no guarantee of monetary value, so fluctuations in value will be RAMPANT. That creates a lot of insecurity if you ask me.
Add that onto my nightmare scenario, which now exists instead of pulling a big name player redemption:
- You pull a huge point card from a box or pack to replace the previous redemption
- You go online and see that the only things available are scrubs and huge point items from Panini Authentic
- You decide to wait for a cool card to be released because you are short of the major point items
- Cool card gets released, but because everyone has been waiting for something awesome, you are one of 100 people waiting for a card that has 25 copies.
- Because you werent there immediately when the card hits the store, you now miss out and are left with your original choice of junk or waiting because you dont have enough to pay for a bigger item that is available.
- Repeat as necessary.
Similarly, for everyone that doesnt break wax, they are now left to wait. They can either buy points online and HOPE they arent beaten out for the card they want, or wait for the cards to show up on ebay. At that point, its worse than a redemption, because you are counting on someone selling their high point value card at a reasonable price, or at all.
I am quickly formulating the opinion that Panini created this program as a vast overreaction to the part of the process that wasnt the issue. Basically, my car is running slow due to this flat tire, let me get a more powerful engine to go faster! The part of the process that was broken was the replacements for unfulfilled or lagging cards, NOT the existence of redemptions in the first place (as mentioned above). Uneducated collectors confuse the two vastly different situations, and have created an uproar over it. As a result we now have to suffer through this. Every passing moment makes me more frustrated over this.
All we wanted was the choice of waiting for our card or taking the out in a manner we deem acceptable. We just traded one problem for another because we gained the second part, but lost the first.