PokerStars Power Up Alpha Insights
After having PokerStars Power Up in Limited Access Alpha for two weeks, we have now ended this test and I think it's a good time to share a few facts and insights.
Firstly, I would like to thank our players. We had more than 150,000 games played by more than 90,000 unique players. I never cease to be astonished by the passion of our players, eager to discover a new game, already starting to strategize their play, master the tactics and help us to make it an even better product. We are using a new engine that is giving us many more possibilities and we now have a vault of very valuable information to do some tweaking and ensure that the game is stable. Once again, I feel really lucky to work with players that are giving us so much information to improve what we do.
What did we learn?
The balance and design is solid and nothing that has been found would force us to rethink the fundamentals of the game. The powers that we have released are close to being balanced and nobody, so far, has found an "OP" (over-powered) strategy by using power combinations.
There were a few technical issues that were flying below the radar that have been discovered thanks to the number of people that played the game. We also collected a lot of data about the games themselves: their duration, the structure, the skill required to play these games; all of this information is going to be useful for us to release a first version for Real Money that will be as close as possible to the type of experience that we aim to give to our players.
For the first time we engaged on the PokerStars Discord channel and it was great to receive instant feedback from the community. Questions from the community included: "Is it good for the game of poker (more below on this point)? Which powers might come next? Is this going to be available for real money?"
What's coming next?
In the coming weeks, we are going to work on getting ready for real money and mobile, our next two major milestones. It should be fairly quiet through summer as we will be busy behind the scenes making the last tweaks on the game to have it 100% ready for the Real Money stage.
Our development list is quite long as we have many powers tested that can be developed and implemented as well as having many features and exciting ideas to make Power Up even more engaging. I am particularly excited about our mobile release. I think that the team have done a great job incorporating Power Up into our application.
The interest of our players is there. It is something that we are delighted to see and it further reinforces the team's motivation to release the next phase and engage our players more, but this time in Real Money.
There is a lot more to do before we arrive at a point where we are fully satisfied with this game but we are getting there, one day at a time.
I strongly believe that there is a big appetite for a game that will maintain the competitive and skill aspect of NL Hold'em, combined with a rich and powerful experience that will only give additional depth to this game without it becoming complex. I want to hear people talking about their epic stories of Power Up and how they have reversed the tide of a hand. I want to hear them speaking about the usage of their powers to bluff and how they outsmart their opponents.
Power Up is not here to replace poker but to continue to evolve it and create an entry point for poker for new passionate players that love games with depth, strategic decision-making and competition.
As for each step of this development, our players will decide what we do with this game. Today, they have told us that they like Power Up and that's a great feeling that will drive the team to challenge themselves even more. While Winter is coming to Westeros, for us it is Power Up and this might very well change the face of poker... Stay tuned!
Severin Rasset is Director of Poker Innovation and Operations for PokerStars.