For years now, the majority of online poker clients have stuck to the same basic formula. The standard list of tables dominates the view, with tabs or file-trees allowing you to filter the games to your liking. There’s a number of reasons for the prevalence of this basic format. For one, it works. New and experienced players alike are able to master any online poker software in a matter of minutes, thanks to those common design properties. The other reason is that, there aren’t as many online poker platforms as you might think. The likes of Microgaming and OnGame license their software to hundreds of different “skin” sites. These companies usually plaster their own logo and color scheme over the original client and call it a day.
Real innovation in the way online poker software works is rare. However, Austrian gaming giant bwin may be about to change all that. They are currently testing a new program that integrates social media into online poker. The company believes that increasing the connections between players is the next frontier for the long stagnant world of poker software design. If all goes to plan, in a very short time you might be able to share your most recent victory on facebook or challenge another player to a wager – all from within the bwin client.
The product is still in testing and not all the details have been revealed, however the new system seems to revolve around a Shoutbox. Rather than just the standard chat area current players are familiar with, this new feature will contain a whole raft of social media options. You can make comments on specific bets and hands, as well as invite your friends to the table. These comments will be viewable by all, enabling other users to come in and interact with your behavior. These functions will intertwine with Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. This new technology brings an unprecedented level of connectivity to online poker. You will even be able to create and maintain your own friends list, with specific alerts informing you when your buddies sign on.
Bwin is the current owner of the OnGame network, who recently completed their new P5 poker platform. The new software was a solid modern poker client, but provided nothing revolutionary out of the box. However, it seems to have been built with the potential to include all kinds of technological advancement. Following the trials, the new technology could be rolled out across many of the OnGame skins.
As far as Chief Technological Officer Thomas Kiessling is concerned, this is just the start of a new focus for bwin. “It’s really the customer experience that’s key. That is a major priority for me,” he said. “Customer relationship management, customer intelligence, usability studies. That is a major priority for me.” Bwin has already sunk €45 million into the creation of this new software, which looks set to become a core part of their already solid online offering.