Last September, we announced that we were designing a new rewards program. Since then it has been an exciting challenge to work on with many questions to solve but only one mission: create the best rewards program in the industry. As we enter the final stages of pulling it all together, I want to share some of our motivations and planned timeline in keeping with our commitment to keep our customers informed.
Poker is a game of wits with players competing against each other for fun, for competition and for profit. Our goal in managing poker is always to maintain that delicate balance and deliver the best possible playing experience while doing so. Since 2006, our loyalty program has encouraged volume rather than competition. It has been a tremendous success and was the right approach for many years. However, the environment has changed. The game has matured; the profile of our players has changed.
In response to these changes, last year we introduced the first series of changes with the introduction of VIP Steps. Since that time, many of our high-volume players have focused more on winning at the tables rather than playing a style optimised for rewards. We want to further encourage this behaviour at the tables: it promotes a more natural and engaging form of poker and creates a better experience for all our players. We have seen additional concrete positive signs: more hands seeing the flop, bigger pot sizes, new players playing longer on the site than the year before, and players playing more frequently. These are all good indicators of a more fun and engaging playing experience across PokerStars. These were all positive results, but we want to be even more ambitious in delivering the best gaming experience.
New World, New Rewards
We are now in a mobile world with many entertainment opportunities. We evolved too, successfully adding casino and sports to our product offering and developing tools and capabilities to deliver more tailored experiences to our players. Our new loyalty program will reward play across poker, casino, and sports, without forcing anyone to play any particular product. Players should feel that no matter what they play, we appreciate their loyalty. Our current reward, StarsCoin, will become the common currency for poker, sport and casino, maintaining its current value.
We have also designed familiar gamification concepts to give players a rich, exciting, personalised experience with randomized rewards and the chance at winning big prizes. Most of our players are playing in the moment, wanting a fun and exciting experience every time they play. With that in mind, the upcoming program is focused around rewarding players more frequently within a single playing session rather than providing month-long goals.
The current monthly volume-driven rakeback model will be retired and will be replaced with one that rewards a variety of factors, such as volume, stakes, how often players play, and net deposits. Players whose rewards are likely to be significantly decreased under the new program are being contacted today with more details of the impact on them. All players will be contacted directly by email with more details as we get closer to launch for each country.
We recognise that change can be challenging, but we believe that now is the right time to deliver a new way of rewarding play. We'll be launching the program in Denmark no sooner than late May, with other countries joining in throughout the summer. We're committed to keeping you informed each step of the way and look forward to sharing launch details in the coming months.
Severin Rasset is Director of Poker Innovation and Operations for PokerStars.