PokerStars is currently one of the biggest poker platforms in the world. Having that status, the company uses its powers to innovate and introduce new concepts to the poker world. Their newest offering is PokerStars VR, an ambitious project which aims to introduce a new way to play poker by combining online poker with the live feel.
PokerStars VR is free to play and is an immersive poker game, trying to recreate the offline poker environment. The players are able to handle the chips and the cards the same way they would in real life, they can study their opponents, and chat in real time. PokerStars made a deal with Lucky VR in order to create the PokerStars VR platform. Manuel Bevand, a member of the PokerStars Innovation team noted that VR is a perfect medium to bring online poker and live poker together.
People had the chance to test out the new platform with the aid of an Oculus headset. Immersion happened at a rapid pace and grasping the mechanics of the game came easy. Movement is done with the aid of teleportation, and accessing the game’s menu is done by checking your watch. Joining a table is an easy task, and there is a large array of items that are programmed in the game which can be used to interact with opponents.
Being an ambitious project, PokerStars VR faced certain challenges which the team had to address. The platform will be launched only for play-money, playing with real money being an option that is not available for the time being. Players can earn free chips every day in order to play. The plan is to focus on developing the game and listen to feedback before any steps towards adding real money games are taken.
Virtual reality itself is still in development, and while progress was made over the last years, there is still a long way to go. Headsets are currently not cheap and a compatible PC that has high-end graphics is necessary in order to be able to fully immerse yourself into virtual reality. Manuel Bevend noted that the prices for compatible PC and for Oculus Rift headsets are dropping fast. Technology and hardware in general evolve fast, so the price drops at the same rate, which makes the team not concerned about this factor.
A PokerStars representative noted that the game of poker is a social experience, so if they can bring more of it to the game then they believe it is very beneficial. In addition, he mentioned that poker and virtual reality go together well, due to the fact that virtual reality is immersive and possibilities are endless.
PokerStars VR also has an in-game camera, which will help with live streaming, making the game ideal for Twitch streamers. Streamer Jaime Staples noted that it is a broader way to play poker and it is a richer experience. In addition, he said that he thinks the Twitch audience is going to love it, as it is interesting and engaging.