Spending a lazy Sunday afternoon plastered to the couch with an adult beverage in hand, while enjoying America's favorite pigskin pastime has become a critical strand in the fabric of our culture. Along with the sport itself, fantasy football is quickly becoming just as ingrained in the day-to-day lives of fanatics everywhere. What if there were a way that fans could meld the world of fantasy sports and social media together? The trading card company Topps has stepped in with their new hybrid application Topps HUDDLE
to fill this critical void.
It is hard to define what exactly HUDDLE is as a piece of software. Is it a game? Could it be a social networking tool? Might it even be considered a research source for fantasy football owners? Ultimately, the aim is for this to be a fan's one-stop shop for football statistics, fantasy information, and up to the minute briefs on the biggest names in the National Football League.
The game portion of HUDDLE consists of initially acquiring "packs" of players, like in trading card packs, which makes complete sense given Topps' brand history. Each player in the pack is assessed with a plus or minus points value at the end of each week. These cumulative totals are used to compare against friends via Facebook, contact lists, or just strangers met at random. There is also a sit vs. start mechanic, where only seven active players can be selected per week. True to the freemium design model, additional packs of players can be purchased to further build out a roster.
While the game portion of the application is solid enough, where it will shine for fantasy owners is in the news section. Many of the daily ins and outs of the season will be constantly updated, including such juicy tidbits as injury updates, statistical analysis, and suggestions for budding players on the rise. For those that are fans of twitter banter, there is even an option to keep in touch with NFL standouts via their personal twitter profiles, all of which are seamlessly accessible from within the software.
Players also have the ability to trash talk, message amongst themselves and even swap players between rosters on Facebook. It pretty much goes without saying that there is a little bit of something for every NFL fan.
Trying to explain to someone what Topps HUDDLE actually is proves to be a rather tricky proposition. Though it attempts to fulfill the needs of several different types of fan, the lack of focus and direction ultimately renders the application/game a somewhat confusing amalgam of stats and social media. Fortunately the free cost makes the barrier to entry minimal, leaving it far more appealing to the masses. If given the chance, Topps HUDDLE could prove to be a strong mid-season replacement for your stat tracker of choice.