Amaya Gaming pulled off a major coup late last week when it received approval from Valve to offer its Play Money Full Tilt app to approximately 125 million gamers who form a part of the Steam community.
The approval process, which received Greenlight acceptance amid widespread support from a large number of video game players within the Steam community, means that Full Tilt “Play Money” action will soon be available to gamers worldwide. The app is expected to launch by the end of the year.
With so much controversy surrounding recent PokerStars VIP Club Changes on Full Tilt’s sister site, the news has massive positive implications for the potential spread of online poker, albeit in a Play Money format.
What Are Full Tilt Play Money Games?
Players From United States and worldwide will be able to download and compete in Play Money games on Full Tilt via Steam once the app officially launches. While this will not be “Real Money” poker, it will immediately expose Amaya Gaming’s assets to a largely untapped player base that is already online savvy.
Full Tilt’s Steam Greenlight approval also allows the online poker site to sell its Play Money Chips for real money, which are currently offered in packages ranging from $1.99 USD to $199.99 USD.
With major Play Money events held on a regular basis along with cash games and tournaments that run around the clock, video game enthusiasts will be able to compete on one of the world’s most widely recognized online poker brands — undoubtedly resulting in an influx of new real money players who reside in jurisdictions where those Full Tilt games are not prohibited.
As far as the Play Money Chips go, there is no formal method for being able to “cashout,” although there are several underground options for selling Play Money Chips for Real Money via services such as eBay and PayPal.
Author’s Note: I do not personally recommend these services, as they are littered with outright scams.
Online Poker And Video Game Community Crossover
Many high profile online poker players have had a casual presence in the video game sector for years, but video games have grown into an entire eSports industry in a blink of an eye — holding major competitions with six-figure championship prize awards on a monthly basis.
Some of the more popular games that routinely receive 100,000-plus concurrent viewers on the Twitch live streaming platform are League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, and Hearthstone. These titles have recently sparked a massive eSports business and generally draw tens of thousands to their championship matches held in major sports arenas around the globe.
In November 2015, mainstream poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier competed in a Hearthstone Exhibition Match at Blizzcon 2015 in California. The event coincided with Team PokerStars Pro “ElkY” signing on as a part of the professional gaming group, Team Liquid of the Netherlands, to form a part of its Hearthstone team.
More than ever, online poker players are keenly aware of the massive video game community and vice-versa.
Online Poker “Experience” Will Be Important To Steam Community
Since there will be no Real Money games in the mix, Amaya Group will have an opportunity to focus nearly 100% of its Play Money app efforts on maintaining and improving its online poker experience.
It remains to be seen whether the executives and directors at Amaya are capable of moving ultra-quickly to adapt to the demands of such a large video gaming community, yet that is precisely what will be asked of them.
As I pointed out in the “Subscription-Based” section of my October 2015 PokerUpdate article on Alex Dreyfus, Video Games, and the Global Poker League, a growing video game community paves the way for more subscription-based online poker offerings as well as the introduction of Role Playing Game (RPG) elements within the game we all love.
Shoving chips to-and-fro while attempting to take down Play Money tournaments will assuage the needs of many gamers in the US for a limited time (6-12 months is my estimate), but the general video gaming community is even larger — and more tech inclined — than its online poker counterpart.
If Amaya Group execs think that the TwoPlusTwo online poker community is massive and extremely vociferous at times, all they have to do is head over to the GameFaqs boards to see just how quickly those forums move in comparison.
And unlike your average online poker forum poster, many veteran content producers in the video gaming industry can create a Minecraft mod in their sleep… “security reasons” are not going to be a valid excuse for not implementing changes to satisfy this crowd. Steam community collaboration in software improvements is encouraged now that the Early Access boom has taken off — so Amaya personnel shouldn’t be surprised when gamers are proactive in suggesting UI enhancements.
If a large number of video game players on Steam are attracted to the Full Tilt Play Money app initially (and every indication is that this will indeed be the case), then the brand can correspondingly expect enormous pressure from gamers to extend and improve its current software from mid-2016 and beyond.
The Full Tilt Play Money app’s long-term success on Steam will depend on how active it is in bettering the overall “experience” of playing online poker. It could also serve as a means to introduce new aspects into its real money offering, but how quickly (and if) Amaya is able to pull this off is the big question.
Amaya’s online poker site brands aren’t facing major competition in terms of software and gamer experience at this time, but once the Steam community gets their hands on the play money app, look out!
It could very well be that the PokerStars/Full Tilt near-monopoly in the global online poker consumer market is not undone by an existing poker site, but rather a crowdfunding upstart created by individuals who have an expert-level background on both programming and video games.
These guys and gals seek community validation of having the best product above all else, even profit — and that’s oftentimes how money-generating ventures ultimately become successful.