A new cutting edge technology will soon rock the global online poker market as PokerStars has rolled out its new virtual reality (VR) social poker game, combining live and online poker for a more fun, challenging and engaging gaming experience.
Most Ambitious Poker Innovation
PokerStarsVR is the latest addition to PokerStars’ innovation arsenal with poker variants Split Hold’em and Showtime already being enjoyed by thousands of players and new audiences worldwide. This new offering is the most ambitious form of entertainment ever developed by PokerStars, though an official launch date is not yet on the cards for the time being.
VR offers a new way of playing poker, recreating the live poker environment. Players are set for a ‘real-world’ experience where they can handle cards and chips, read their opponents, apply skillful strategies, socialize and chat in real time. All of these come with highly interactive props and top of the line software which will allow players to experience a completely different online gaming experience through the power of virtual reality.
Combining Live and Online Poker
The game is still at beta-testing stage with the help of about a hundred player-invitees who are going through the testing phase. PokerStars has not disclosed details of its official release yet but says it will be some time in the future. The game will work with Oculus Rift and other VR platforms.
Avid Twitch streamer and PokerStars Team Online Pro Jamie Staples was among the lucky few who have had first hands-on experience with the game and he is more than impressed with what he has got to experience so far.
While immersed in the game, players can enjoy a bottle of beer or two and mess around with cigar-smoking rubber ducks. The game also has plenty of fantasy aspects, including shooting guns and throwing cards at people, which make it a lot more fun and interesting.
Players can also make different interactions, play with cool effects and poke fun at opponents. The unlimited items of fun programmed into the game allow players to loosen up before they come back to the competition and focus on the game.
The technology incorporated into this new innovation is notable as well. It has an in-game camera that can facilitate live streaming and Oculus Rift makes it possible for streamers to view anything that’s open on the computer screen.
Manuel Bevand who used to play Magic: The Gathering, has now moved on and joined PokerStars Innovation team. He believes that VR is the ideal platform to merge live poker and online poker and give PokerStars players a new product that will be a game changer. The online poker giant has teamed up with Lucky VR to create the new platform.
Addressing VR Challenges
PokerStars is still continuing to gather feedback from players and taking steps to deal with inevitable challenges. It will start as a play-money experience for players and there are no plans as of now to offer real money offerings.
One of the major hurdles for the average consumer would be the cost of playing the game, which will require a computer with high-end graphics to enjoy its full features, and a VR headset costing several hundred dollars. While some progress has been made to VR gaming over the past few years, it might take a while before it enters the mainstream market. Bevand said the company was thinking ahead and was not very concerned with any of the current setbacks.
In a statement, Bevand said “Right now, the prices of both the Oculus Rift headset and the compatible PC are dropping very fast. When this is going to mature is when the price point is accessible for everybody. We have to start now, build this from the ground up and get as many people as we can.”
It’s too early to tell whether PokerStars VR will take off and eventually capture mainstream attention, but its ability to provide an engaging, fully immersive and totally fun social gaming experience is something that should capture the interest of the global poker community. PokerStars has a massive database of players from all over the world and they will be very interested to know when they will get the opportunity to test out the new VR platform.

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