PartyPoker on the Verge of Launching Upgraded Poker Room Software
Most of the recent news regarding PartyPoker has been less than positive, to say the least. Headline after headline has blared news of the site’s stunning traffic decline, and the negative financial news coming directly from Party has only added fuel to the fire.
But a recent announcement from the UK-listed online gambling operator could potentially mark a reversal of that trend: PartyPoker is planning to release a completely overhauled version of its online poker room software by summer’s end.
Part of a larger strategic shift to casual players
Details on the new software are being kept tightly under wraps as the company approaches the final testing stage for the product. As it currently stands, the new software is set to enter public release in August of 2013.
What we do know is that the core focus of the upgrade is on making the entire online poker experience a more immersive and enjoyable one for casual, or recreational, players. This will likely mean a shift away from features meant to cater to high-volume players, such as multi-tabling support and advanced lobby filters, and a shift toward “lighter” features, such as customizable graphics, profiles and integration of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Dovetails with Zynga partnership
The move toward a more mainstream-focused software platform comes at the same time as the deepening of the relationship between Party Poker and social gaming behemoth Zynga. The two companies collaborated on a small-scale launch of real money gambling games in early 2013, and recently announced their intention to expand those offerings to mobile and Facebook (for UK users only) before the year draws to a close.
Comes at a critical point for Party’s online poker business
Once the world’s largest online poker room, Party has suffered a lengthy and tremendous decline over the last seven years. Part of that decline was caused by the company’s decision to exit the online gambling market in the United States following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (commonly shortened to UIGEA).
Unlike some companies who only pulled out of U.S. states with laws clearly unfavorable to online gambling (such as Washington and New York), Party just decided to exit the entire market – from 50 states to none overnight.
But while it’s tempting to blame that decision for all of Party’s current woes, the fact of the matter is that Party lost ground not only in the United States, but also in major markets like the United Kingdom where they continued to operate and market aggressively.
Critics say Party’s online poker software is outdated compared to the competition. And that criticism is certainly driving Party’s decision to roll out what must be a very expensive and resource-consuming upgrade. The question remains, however, as to whether the damage done by the inferior product over the course of a number of years can now be undone by an improved product, or if the customers that Party has already ceded to competitors are gone for good.
In simpler terms: Is there any improvement Party can make on the platform level that will matter enough to players?
Company has missed deadlines for relaunch in the past
One final note on this story worth considering: Party has made – and missed – a variety of deadlines for the launch of this specific upgrade to their online poker platform. We’ve now been told to expect the relaunch on three separate occasions.
The first two deadlines came and went with no action save the announcement of yet another launch target, and Party’s numbers continued to slide. With the latest deadline now only weeks away, Party is about to again face a moment of truth that must be feeling far too familiar at this point in the game.
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