888Poker Announces New Platform, New Game
After a rough start to 2018 for 888poker, the online poker operator is looking to reignite some excitement for its brand.
888poker is often paired with PartyPoker as the most popular global online poker sites after PokerStars. But as PartyPoker has pushed ahead with new software, a popular live tournament circuit, and substantial efforts to coordinate its growth with player input, 888poker has fallen behind. According to PokerScout’s traffic stats, Winamax, GGPoker, and even Bodog have eclipsed the cash game traffic of 888poker in recent weeks.
With a solid base of customers, pros, and offerings on which to build, 888poker is acknowledging that it is ready to step up its game. There is a new poker client in the preparation phase for a rollout in the coming months, and there has even been a mention of a new game variation. To some, it feels like 888poker is simply chasing its competitors, as PartyPoker rolled out a significant software update recently and PokerStars has been experimenting with poker variants throughout the year. But if 888poker can generate enough excitement around its new offerings, the site could emerge as an industry leader instead of a follower.
— 888poker (@888poker) October 8, 2018
First Half Results
When 888 Holdings reported its H1 financials last month, it showed its poker vertical as the one with the most challenges. Revenue from 888poker in the first half of 2018 was down 28% from the previous year, with $31 million reported in 2018 as compared to $43 million in 2017.
888 noted that some of the decrease was due to the withdrawal of 888poker form the Australian market due to new laws, as well as other smaller markets, with other factors described as a competitive online poker market, the impact of warm summer weather, and the FIFA World Cup.
“Poker remains a healthy acquisition channel,” read the report, “with relatively stable overall deposit level from poker players.” Even so, the revenue from poker players was down 8%, though an adjustment for disrupted markets and the UK put that number at a positive 2%.
Overall, the report called poker a “very important acquisition tool,” noted that the flow of poker players to the online casino and sports betting verticals are important, and mobile poker revenue was positive. The company boasted that it remains one of the top three in several key markets.
One of the key takeaways from the 888 H1 report was the emphasis on Poker 8 as a “new and improved cross-territory poker platform.” It will be the biggest upgrade for poker players in nearly a decade.
Last major software update from @888poker was back in February 2011 (yes, that's pre-Black Friday). Then it was Poker 6, now it's going to be Poker 8 – "its biggest overhaul in 6 years". (Not sure what happened to 7.) Phased rollout will start this year. https://t.co/xBV9gnOxzn
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) October 2, 2018
Poker 8 will be the result of a major software update, one that was created from player feedback and is said to improve table displays, lobby functionality, and overall graphics that will create a “more engaging and modern poker experience.”
With that, the phased rollout of Poker 8 – called the “next generation poker platform – is nearly ready for the start of its rollout. The phased introduction will begin sometime in 2018 to reach as many players as possible before the end of the year.
While there was only a quick mention of it in the 888 Holdings results presentation, there seems to be a new poker variant in the works for an eventual release on 888poker. Pik’em Poker was referenced as a “new, unique variant that we developed.”
The introduction of new poker variations has proven popular with PokerStars, which has been rolling out new games every few months in 2018. The latest announcements from PokerStars came recently for Showtime Poker, wherein folded cards can be shown to players remaining in the hand, and Split Hold’em, which gives players the chance to run the board twice. Both games were hits with players earlier in the year and will be returning in tournament format in the coming months.
Other games have been rotated in and out of the real-money poker lobby at PokerStars in various markets, though the most anticipated game will undoubtedly be PokerStars VR. The virtual reality version of poker is in the works for a release in late 2018 or early 2019.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that 888poker wants to get in on the action and develop its own new games. However, there have been no official announcements or press releases regarding Pik’em Poker yet.
Improvements for 888poker
All in all, 888poker seeks to boost its revenue and regain its status as a true competitor for PartyPoker. The half-year results report noted that, in addition to the software upgrade and new game, other improvements are in the works.
“During the second half of the year, we plan to launch more and even larger tournaments and events than ever before, supported by incremental marketing efforts, that we are confident will inject new momentum to our Poker offer.”