Flutter Rebrands PokerStars VR as Vegas Infinite, Shifts Focus Away From Poker

PokerStars VR, the virtual-reality, play-money poker game, has undergone a change in branding and focus, becoming Vegas Infinite and offering players a more complete metaverse casino experience.

Although poker will remain a significant part of the game, it’s now just one attraction in a virtual gambling city. Per the press release, the new game incorporates “expertise and insight” from other parts of Flutter’s empire.

Non-poker games added to Vegas Infinite include:

  • Blackjack
  • Roulette
  • Slots
  • Craps
  • Rocket Rush

Meanwhile, the poker offering has expanded to include Spin & Go and multi-table tournaments.

Aside from new ways to gamble with virtual currency, Vegas Infinite’s developers have put a lot of attention into the surrounding environment. There are multiple casinos to visit and a sprawling cityscape, including some areas that are exclusive to high rollers or paying subscribers.

PokerStars originally launched its VR product on Sep. 20, 2018, before the company was part of Flutter.

James O’Reilly, Director of VR and Innovation at PokerStars, said:

As we approach our fifth anniversary, it’s incredible to think how far our game has come. From a cutting-edge experiment in applying virtual reality to the poker table, we’ve grown to become a living entertainment destination with a full suite of games and experiences played in otherworldly environments that are home to an avid community of players. Today, we’re much more than poker and much more than VR. Vegas Infinite is where we’re taking our players next and there’s lots more in store.

Better Moderation May Address User Concerns

Despite its niche appeal, PokerStars VR has received favorable reviews from its player base. The video game distribution platform Steam rates its aggregate reviews as Very Positive, with 3,210 reviews. Recent reviews, since the rebranding, are likewise Very Positive.

However, there is a common theme to the negative comments users have made about the game. The number one complaint is the immature and abusive behavior of other players at the table.

That may be why another aspect of the update is enhanced moderation. The press release states:

Player safety has also been a focal point during development, with Vegas Infinite using ToxMod, an AI live chat monitoring tool, to assist its dedicated moderation team.

In addition, the new version includes responsible gambling tools, such as one would find on a real money site, like spending limits and self-imposed cool-off periods.

Online Poker Is No Longer Trendy

The shift from poker to casino gaming is something we’ve seen a lot of in the real money gambling space. Online poker was at the peak of its popularity from about 2006 to 2010. It’s a common misconception that the US Department of Justice crackdown of 2011 brought an end to that Golden Age, but traffic to poker sites was already declining before then.

However, because of that belief, many were of the opinion that the arrival of legal online poker in the US in 2013 would usher in a second boom. Like the rest of the world, the US had moved on by then, and a repeat of the early 2000s has never materialized.

Even before its acquisition by Flutter, PokerStars was moving away from being a pure-play poker company. Although its sports betting partnership with Fox News has flopped, casino games now account for more than two-thirds of its revenue in Pennsylvania and probably other states.

However, Flutter clearly sees the value of poker as part of a full-service gambling product. Poker players tend to be more discriminating and have more brand loyalty than casino users, so having a high-quality poker product helps acquire and retain users for other verticals.

The idea behind Vegas Infinite may be similar. Although it doesn’t feed directly into a real money gambling product, it does help to build brand awareness and a marketing database of potential gamblers.

Why Are There No Real Money VR Products?

Vegas Infinite is a virtual reality gambling game built off of what used to be PokerStars VR.Virtual reality casinos come up frequently in discussions of the supposed metaverse we’ll all inhabit in the near future. Indeed, when Meta announced its new corporate identity and direction, virtual reality poker featured prominently in its concept video.

And yet, there hasn’t been much of a push toward VR from the real-money gambling industry. It does exist, although not in the US: In 2015, SlotsMillion introduced the first real-money VR casino to players in the UK. However, to the best of our knowledge, at Bonus, eight years later, it remains the only one in the world. The lack of imitators suggests that it hasn’t been a huge success.

Going by the most successful online casino products, what real-money players appear to want is an efficient interface to get to their game as quickly as possible. Simulating the physical space of a real casino might be visually impressive, but it’s less efficient than typing a slot title into a search box or scrolling through a menu. Meanwhile, players’ time spent admiring the scenery is time not spent gambling, and real money operators want to maximize the latter.

There’s also a matter of game selection. Conventional online casinos rely heavily on third-party developers for their content, and those developers don’t produce virtual reality games. The best US online casinos for real money have 1,000 or so games on offer. By contrast, SlotsMillion offers only about 40 of its own virtual reality slots, relying on non-VR games from those third-party companies to fill out the rest of its catalog.

So, perhaps the way to look at Vegas Infinite is as a VR experience elevated by the inclusion of simulated gambling. By contrast, a gambling experience elevated by VR would be a different sort of product and perhaps not one that many people want.

About the Author

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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