Well, on Wednesday we finally released Poker Academy 2.5. With 2.5 we launched a new system for our online play. Previously, you could log into our server and have an infinite supply of play money to burn through. This lead to some people playing very stupidly, constantly pushing their chips into the pot regardless of their hand. With nothing to risk with play money, the game was just not realistic. Poker has to be played with chips that have value.
So in 2.5 we decided to make our chips valuable. We introduced a new in-game currency called PAX. Every new account starts with $0 PAX. The only way to get PAX is to earn them painstakingly in our round-the-clock PAX Freeroll tournaments. Each tournament can last over an hour and you have to beat out a feild of 20 or more people to take a share of a $50 PAX prize pool. It’s not unusual to play for an hour and end up in 7th place with a measly $1 PAX win. This has a few nice effects. For starters, we call these freerolls Boot Camps because thats what they are for new players. We’re making all of our users take a crash course in Multi-Table Tournament strategy. By they time a new user gets through ten of these bad-boys, they will be cured of their jammy ways.
Once a player has PAX they can go play at the ‘real’ tables. Because of the investment in time and traumatic memories of earning their PAX in boot camp, PAX have true value. It’s a little scary how well this has worked. People really like their PAX. Listening to our users talk about their PAX, you’d think it’s some kind of new street drug.
Before, if there were server troubles, I could just pull the plug in mid-game and no one would care. Now, if a player looses a single precious fraction of a PAX, they are hysterical. This makes things a little harder… Especially this launch week as with such an ambitious and rushed release, there are of course still some bugs shaking out of the system, especially with the heavy user load that we couldn’t experience during the beta phase. I’ve been basically working stright since release day keeping things running and making emergency patches to the server as we discover problems. Heavy duty fire-fighting. I’m getting a little exhausted. But I do think it’s worth the effort. I think we’ve created something in our online system that works amazingly well and our users.