Redemptions are a very touchy subject in the hobby. In many instances, it can mean a long wait on some exciting (and not exciting) cards. The Panini Rewards program, which they unveiled during their keynote address at the 2014 Las Vegas Industry Summit, looks to change the way redemptions are done.
The basics of the program are that instead of redemption cards getting inserted into packs and boxes, collectors will find random points cards that can be cashed in immediately through an online rewards store. Or, if collectors want to save up for a specific item, they can do so and get something bigger.
More cards will be made available through Panini Rewards as players sign and return them. Panini will also include memorabilia and special experiences as options. Towards the conclusion of the presentation, Warsop hinted at the possibility of offering up a chance to meet Kobe Bryant as a possibility.
So while this system certainly alleviates wait time, does it actually eliminate redemptions in Panini? It depends on how you look at it. Points cards aren't connected to specific players, so the limbo of holding your breath and wondering whether a player will sign is gone. Collectors can also get an autograph sent to them right away. But at the same time, getting a points card won't give collectors the same instant rush of landing an autograph or redemption card.
It also raises questions as to whether checklists will evolve. Will players initially slated to be in a set who don't return their cards on time become Rewards-exclusives if and when they do return their cards?
Looking into the long-range, though, it could potentially bode well for long-term values of products. Points cards don't expire. So if you look ahead in the future, if a year has a weaker crop, points cards that could be used for other stronger products.
Panini Rewards points cards come with a QR code that can be scanned via a smartphone app. For those without a compatible phone, they can also be used on a standard computer as well.
The Panini Rewards program kicks off in May with 2014 Score Football and will continue to roll out with other basketball and baseball products.
Panini also announced plans for an autograph and patch database that will allow collectors to easily identify and authenticate their cards. Announced as being aimed at hits in high-end products, cards will be photographed from the top and bottom as they are made.
These cards have a QR code that, when scanned, allow collectors to see the images of the cards as they were made. This should curtail the possibility of fake patches being swapped in, signatures being altered or other counterfeiting.