Topps launched their second series of MLB NFTs yesterday (09/09/2021) with the release of the Inception Series.
This time they were launching straight for the head, rather than opting for a simple curveball or two.
We were in the trenches with fellow NFT & MLB fans, vying for a pack to write a guide for Arodie. Unfortunately getting beaned would have been the less painful of experiences.
There were 10k Standards packs ($15 - 5 NFTs) and 6K Premium packs ($100 - 25 NFTs) up for grabs.
Launching on their new self-contained platform using the Avalanche Blockchain, we thought we would give it a try.
There was a pre-queue system in place, but Topps had to shut this down as you could only enter through the Bazooka Joe collection. This was quite bizarre and rightfully shut down to avoid any unfair advantage to those who managed to find this.
First, we experienced a never-ending load page. The button under the packs didn't seem to direct us to the queue system. Luckily the community in the Major League NFTs Discord group pointed out that you could right-click the pack image and open a new tab to join the queue.
Not a great start, but we are in the queue now after a 10-minute delay of staring at an endless load.
We didn't need to wait too long before it was our turn to buy. We were asked to log in, enter the 2FAS code sent through text and we navigated to the shop. For whatever reason, we found ourselves back in the queue. This happened around five more times before all packs were sold out.
Discord confirmed many had shared this same problem. Some got a rejection message from the queue, some couldn't get past 2FAS, others got to add payment information before payment was rejected and the cycle began again.
The que-it rejections were horrible, no debate there everyone. I apologize for the rockiness but we will continue to improve for each release.
- Mark Seal, Topps Director of Blockchain
The queue system used by Topps was Queue-It, a service we have used before without any issues, so it was surprising to see a wide range of reported problems with the system.
We don't know if this was caused by front-end implementation or an issue with the Queue-It system (Topps said they were working with their partners to resolve the issue), but we will reach out and update you with any statement.
So at this point were pack-less, it happens, especially at launch with the natural high-demand created by fans and the usual army of flippers. Of course with an added layer of frustration getting through the queue door, only to be pushed out by some invisible force.
If you were lucky to get through the first phase of the queue and avoid problems as we had, you could order again after just 3 minutes without needing to re-queue!
Some accounts managed to grab multiple packs due to this. One account reportedly snagged 42 premium and 150 standards packs (and good on them, it's not the individual who is at fault here).
Topps eventually picked this up and changed the re-order time to 15 minutes, but a little too late.
For those who did manage to buy some packs, there was more confusion ahead.
Packs were oversold, throwing pack counts into negative figures before they were flagged as out-of-stock. Packs were also randomly showing the Bundesliga artwork instead of MLB and some sales listing mint numbers were non-sensical (for example, 18955/8890).
That's if you were lucky to receive a pack. The majority still haven't had packs sent, and those that did, the packs have either disappeared or have been replaced with different mint numbers.
Today’s pack delivery delay was due to a bug in our delivery system. We have fixed this issue and we anticipate delivering any outstanding packs within the next several hours ahead of tomorrow’s pack unlocking at 12pm ET. Our blockchain minting system and platform were not affected. We appreciate your patience and we will continue to provide any updates as necessary.
- Topps Admin, TOPPS NFT Discord
As of now, 2k Premium Packs and 4k Standard packs are STILL pending delivery. This has further delayed pack opening from the original 12pm ET to 5pm ET today.
For those who bought a pack that was oversold, your transaction will be refunded in due course (assuming once all packs have been distributed and these transactions can easily be identified).
The overall launch experience has been nothing short of a farce. It's a shame, as the collection designs look incredible, better than Season One in our opinion.
Topps were also heavily criticised for the handling of Series One. Launching on the WAX blockchain back in April 2021, the launch had its own issues.
No queue system was used and anyone could buy 10 packs per transaction (many making multiple transactions). The demand was so high, many were left without packs despite being charged due to overselling.
There was also an issue with those opening packs early seemingly having a higher chance of hitting the higher rarity MLB NFTs (we opened one premium pack as early as we could and hit a legendary exclusive Pete Alsono card).
However, after the initial launch issues, Series One was a lot of fun. The secondary market was thriving, booming from the recent sale of a Mike Trout Legendary Exclusive card for over $87k and blending mechanics (collect specific players and trade for a special pack).
Will Inception capture some of that early magic? Only time will tell, but I have doubts about the platform marketplace and the lack of blending mechanics for this series.
We just can't, however, forget the power of the MLB licence. Some early premium packs were picked up on the secondary for around $500-$600, however, supply would have been low due to the pack distribution issue. But some fans were still willing to pay top dollar for them, so that's an encouraging sign.
The marketplace is also frozen for now until at least 5 pm ET today, whilst problems are corrected.
We also hope Topps hasn't forgotten about the Series One release. Communication has been exceptionally poor and moving away from WAX has caused much alarm in the community and what it means for their Series One cards.
This purgatory state could have been excused due to the, at the time, impending merger with Mudrick Capital. That merger recently collapsed after it was announced that Topps would lose the MLB licence to Fanatics at the end of their contract in 2025.
This raises a whole lot of questions about Topps move to their own contained platform with the now time-limited use of the MLB licence. Series One utilised the more polished Atomic Hub, whilst Topps NFTs platform is very much in Beta.
It may be a means of maximising profits whilst Topps has the licence, but you need to avoid horrible onboarding experiences such as this launch to make that successful.
Will the MLB licence be used as a draw to upsell other licences such as the Bundesliga Football (Soccer) cards? Maybe, but they will need to get the basics right. How about allowing Europeans to link a bank account?
We can excuse the odd curveball, but we can't cope with another Topps inflicted headache.
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