PokerStars Begins Subtle Rollout of Major Software Upgrade
It seems that PokerStars has been keeping a secret. It was nothing nefarious or sinister, but something that will affect all players on the online poker site. Pokerfuse got the scoop on it and finally revealed it with PokerStars’ permission.
PokerStars has been working on a software upgrade, one that will incorporate a new game engine named Aurora. Its eventual rollout will provide new graphics, table themes, sound effects, and interactive features, all in a newer, higher resolution, and more modern poker client.
The poker site wanted to begin testing in some markets while fixing bugs and making as little of a splash as possible. The goal was to avoid a massive announcement before PokerStars was ready, instead choosing to make mostly subtle changes to see how players would react – a sort of a slowroll.
Details have now been revealed, however, and players will get a feel for what to expect later in 2019.
New animations and sound effects are just the beginning of what players can expect from the new @PokerStars Aurora. See what else is coming and when you can expect to see the new-look tables. https://t.co/DJQ35cIoI0
— pokerfuse (@pokerfuse) April 26, 2019
Pokerfuse was granted an exclusive interview with PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset to discuss the platform upgrades involved in Aurora.
He revealed that PokerStars first starting using Aurora for games like Power Up and the Duel promotion. It was put into broader use in the dot-net free-play poker client, and then it was introduced in real-money online poker in Portugal. The international rollout is planned to happen over the next few weeks and months, delayed only by any glitches as it moves forward.
Some things gleaned from that:
– Aurora uses a new game engine Coco2d.
– Engine used for Power Up and The Deal will now power all poker games.
– Goal is to be able to quickly drop in new assets and iterate/development new games fast.
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) April 24, 2019
By the third quarter of 2019, Rasset hopes that Aurora will be fully implemented without issues, and the prior engine will be retired completely.
Rasset noted that initial changes will be “nearly invisible to players” with no disruption to their normal play. Moreover, “We cannot afford to find ourselves with something that would be crashing on a regular basis for real-money players.”
While many changes will be subtle, as in the graphics and themed tables, the engine as a whole will allow for developers to more quickly implement applications and more fully integrate different parts of the platform, such as PokerStars School.
As to the lack of a concrete timetable for the rollout, Rasset responded, “Again, the beauty is that we have our options open on the table. There is no particular pressure in terms of timelines to release something. The current tables are working perfectly fine, it’s just we want to aim for more … but has to come first with quality and reliability.”
– We could see changes beyond the poker tables, like in the game buy-in screen or when you finish a tournament.
– PokerStars School could see deeper integration into the lobby.
– PokerStars is also developing Mobile NG, next-gen mobile client, separate dev cycle but same engine.
— Nick Jones (@pokerprojones) April 24, 2019
For an actual look at some of the changes to the tables that will appear eventually, F5 Poker offers a look at old versus new tables. It highlights some of the changes and allows a real look at the differences.
Keeping Up with the Times
One might wonder why, if many the changes are subtle and understated, PokerStars would dedicate the time and cost to a new engine. There are probably several reasons.
Rasset alluded to one, which is the overall performance and speed of the new platform. From the back end, developers will be able to implement changes more quickly as needed and perform regular updates without as much downtime for players and work time for employees.
In addition, as PokerStars will likely continue to introduce new poker variations and games throughout 2019 as it did in 2018, the ability to add and remove games will likely be much easier.
As the poker industry changes, as it always does, Aurora will make adaptation to those changes quicker and easier. It is also likely to help PokerStars adjust to various markets around the world, as some open to licensing and regulation and others narrow their options.
Even in the United States, online poker will continue to change. PokerStars is currently only operating in New Jersey but is preparing to launch its site in Pennsylvania this year when the market officially opens. West Virginia just legalized online poker in 2019 and may be ready to launch a site in 2020. Michigan remains close to doing the same. As each state will have different regulations and requirements, PokerStars needs an engine that will allow it to adapt quickly and efficiently.
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