PokerStars unveil big changes for 2016

PokerStars unveil big changes for 2016

StarsCoin in, 3rd-party software out

PokerStars today announced a raft of changes to their site which they claim will “enhance the playing experience” and attract more players to the game.

The “comprehensive plan” will come into effect as early as January 1st 2016 and will see the introduction of a new StarsCoin currency replacing VPP’s and similar rewards, as well as extra restrictions to 3rd-party software and the promise of a standalone PokerStars branded app.

According to Eric Hollreiser, the Amaya and PokerStars VP of Corporate Communications, the sweeping changes are designed to “put the poker ecosystem on the right tracks to deliver growth for the years to come,” and “reinforce the fundamental elements of human competition.”

Hollreiser’s statement on behalf of the poker giants has a heavy emphasis on the benefits their new loyalty system – VIP Steps – will bring to the “vast majority of players,” while explaining that “approximately two percent of players – including our highest volume and high stakes players – will have significantly reduced rewards.”

Likewise, he explains that the 3rd-party software restrictions will be expanded because “The game should be about combining logic and an ability to steel your nerves to make that big call or bluff; it shouldn’t be about clicking a button because harvested stats tell you to.”

For those unaware of the recent glut of restrictions placed by the leading sites in such software as HUD’s, seating scripts and downloadable hand histories among other things, the basic premise was to ‘level the playing field’ so that new or weaker players aren’t scared off by the regulars who use technology to target them and exploit their inexperience.

PokerStars plans to implement their stricter criteria “through major changes within our own software that we will communicate in more detail through 2016” which is a relatively vague announcement, and does not preclude an integrated HUD of some sort as has been suggested recently.

Other changes include future campaigns involving PokerStarsSports team members Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr, which are described as being “part of the biggest global consumer marketing campaign in PokerStars history.”

The ‘Product Innovation and Marketing’ part of the latest announcement also promises the “most significant research and development initiatives in years” including a Standalone PokerStars branded app which they say will “bring a brand new twist to poker” and there is also the teasingly vague suggestion “that later in the year we’re planning an even more bold take on poker that we believe will be very exciting.”

The raft of announced changes will be unlikely to please everyone, but as Hollreiser explains, the focus is “to enhance the playing experience and to re-emphasize the fun and social aspects of online poker while attracting and retaining more players to the game.”

This benign-sounding statement belies the sea-change which PokerStars plan to roll-out come the New Year.

About the author: Andrew Burnett is the main contributor for PokerTube and he also writes about strategy for PokerVIP.

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