PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, is definitely not afraid to take risks. In fact, what Amaya is doing in online poker is akin to jumping head-first into an alligator-filled lake to win a $50 bet. They’ve signed world-famous (expensive) football stars, overhauled their VIP program and waged war against HUDs — all in the last several months. Don’t expect these widespread changes to stop either, because PokerStars now plans to blend video games and poker. Let’s take a look at what Amaya has said regarding this unusual marriage below, along with what to expect as Stars moves closer to its New Jersey launch.
Amaya reveals their Plan for Video Games in Q3 Conference Call
The highlight of Amaya’s Q3 conference call was that their expected 2015 earnings (CA$1.45 billion to CA$1.56 billion) will be 11% – 14% lower than projected. This news caused a subsequent 33% drop in Amaya’s stock, although the company is expected to recover at some point in the near future.
Just as interesting is what Amaya revealed about their plans to offer a new type of poker variant that will include video-gaming elements. Here’s that excerpt of the conference call:
“Towards further growing the poker category, we continued to invest in R&D efforts to fill our product pipeline with innovative new poker products aimed at bridging the gap between real-money gaming and the skilled video gaming and social gaming market.”
What to expect from this Poker/Video Game Hybrid?
While the above offering is pretty vague, we can certainly speculate on what PokerStars is aiming for. They can look towards Hearthstone as a good model for how to blend poker and video gaming. Stars reps Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier have become addicted to this collectible card game. So it’s possible that they and other Hearthstone lovers have convinced Amaya to try something of the same nature.
Other than this, it’s hard to think what else PokerStars might offer along this line. Amaya has previously discussed making poker an established eSport, which could involve any number of avenues. But whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Amaya Gaming doesn’t see traditional poker games as the future of their operation.
Will this New Strategy work for PokerStars?
A lot has worked to take away from the success that online poker enjoyed in the mid-2000s, including the UIGEA, Black Friday and seat-scripting software. And while poker is still a widely played game around the world, it won’t be seeing a popularity surge any time soon. So it looks like Amaya will continue their strategy of making the PokerStars brand an all-around entertainment entity, rather than a poker-first site.
Only time will tell how successful these mass changes are. But one thing is clear: eSports and Hearthstone are growing at a rapid rate while online poker remains stagnant. So in order to keep up with the trends, Amaya needs to continue innovating.