Topps established itself as the biggest name in baseball cards in the 20th Century, and now wants to jump into the NFT (non-fungible token) space in the 21st. That effort began in earnest on Tuesday, as the company released its 2021 Series 1 NFT collectibles in a rocky launch that left a bad taste in the mouths of many potential collectors and investors.
Topps released 50,000 standard packs with six digital collectibles for $4.99 each, along with 25,000 premium packs with 45 collectibles each for $99.99 apiece.
Chargebacks, errors plague Topps MLB NFT launch
Unlike NBA Top Shot, the Topps MLB NFT didn’t utilize a queue system in order to ration packs and reduce traffic. Instead, collectors piled onto the site in huge numbers in an effort to buy as many packs as allowed – a maximum of 10 of each type.
The result was a chaotic mess. Across Twitter, countless users reported being unable to reach the payment page. More reached the payment processor, but couldn’t successfully complete their purchases. Most frustrating of all, many saw that their credit cards had been charged, and believed they had successfully bought packs, only to see those charges reversed later.
— matt (@dmbpjfan4ever) April 20, 2021
— jota jota (@JJyumyum) April 20, 2021
At the end of the day, some people did actually purchase packs (myself included). The Topps MLB NFT features what are essentially just digital cards, in a variety of rarities ranging from commons – with thousands of each minted – up through uncommon, rare, super rare, and epic collectibles. At the top of the list are epic exclusives and legendary exclusives, which are only available in the premium packs. Topps minted fewer than 100 of each epic exclusive, and while the company hasn’t finalized the legendary cards yet, only about 10 of each were released on Tuesday.
The Topps MLB NFT cards include some interesting variants, such as cards of modern players framed in the template of the 1986 Topps set. Users can also craft special packs by collecting certain common cards and exchanging them to get cards from exclusive event sets, such as a series based on 1952 Topps cards.
Top Shot boss takes shot at MLB offering
While this decision aligns the Topps MLB NFT with its physical product, other leaders in the sports NFT space have criticized the product the company is putting out.
I’m deeply disappointed in @Topps
Their product announcement with the @MLB is low quality and bad for NFTs
I feel the same about every other wax project I’ve seen
Designers: what’s the point of a static card that doesn’t do anything? Digital unlocks infinite potential; use it!
— roham (@rohamg) April 14, 2021
“I’m deeply disappointed in Topps,” Dapper Labs CEO Roham Ghareozlou wrote on Twitter last week. “Their product announcement with the MLB is low quality and bad for NFTs. I feel the same about every other wax project I’ve seen. Designers: what’s the point of a static card that doesn’t do anything? Digital unlocks infinite potential, use it!”
The Topps MLB NFT also faces other hurdles if it wants to take off in the same manner as NBA Top Shot. While users can buy packs using credit cards, the marketplace runs off of the cryptocurrency WAX, which is far less intuitive for inexperienced users. The MLB audience also skews older than that of the NBA, which may make it less amenable to digital collectibles.
Still, Topps executives say that think they have a winner on their hands.
“The partnership between Major League Baseball, MLB Players, Inc. and Topps has delighted collectors and fans for generations,” Tobin Lent, vice president and general manager of Topps Digital Sports & Entertainment said in a statement. “We’re excited to bring almost a decade’s worth of digital collectibles innovations to 2021 Topps Series 1 and provide another fun avenue for fans to collect their favorite heroes and moments with secure digital ownership on the blockchain.”