Upper Deck Marries Collecting, Online Haven

In an effort to bridge the gap between old school sports card collecting and today’s popular online attractions, Upper Deck has created a new space for kids.

Upper Deck has announced the debut of a new, sports-themed virtual world for kids that marries physical trading cards to a massive, multiplayer online gaming experience (MMOG). The new site – www.UpperDeckU.com – will offer kids what it calls "a place to share their passion for sports, competing, socializing and online game play in a safe, fun-filled virtual world environment".

Kids can unlock the features of the new site by entering codes printed on the inside of foil wrappers of select Upper Deck sports card releases debuting with 2009 Upper Deck Series One Baseball. UpperDeckU will officially launch on Feb. 3, 2009, to coincide with the in-store arrival date of the product.

Although the special wrapper codes debut in 2009 UD1 Baseball, additional wrapper codes will follow just one week later inside the company’s 2008-09 Series Two Hockey release. Only select 2009 “kid-friendly” brands from Upper Deck, First Edition and Collector’s Choice – will feature the special game-play codes printed inside the wrappers.

“UpperDeckU really makes baseball card collecting relevant to today’s kids. Our site links real-world card collecting with an engaging online game and social experience,” said Louise Curcio, Upper Deck’s vice president of Marketing. “It’s a win-win situation for hobby dealers and shop owners as well since UpperDeckU should translate into more and more pack purchases by kids who already engage in online games and virtual world sites.”

Building on the ingrained passion kids already possess for sports and games, UpperDeckU blends digital and real-world trading cards into this new social virtual experience. At launch, UpperDeckU will feature environments for baseball and hockey, but additional sports “Decks” will follow throughout the year. UpperDeckU allows participants to create their own avatars, build personal spaces, play games, socialize in real time with other kids, and join teams and clubs. What’s more, kids can earn achievements and “level up” as they progress through UpperDeckU’s virtual world.

Upper Deck is promising "significant TV, print and online advertising" in both the U.S. and Canada beginning in early March to promote its trading cards and the website.

Unopened 2009 Upper Deck boxes for sale on eBay