When we think of online gaming, many of us are, of course, aware of the extreme difficulties involved in coding and perfecting a game capable of appealing to a wide and discerning userbase. What may not spring to mind so quickly, however, is how certain online games and destinations have forged new pathways through the digital wilderness, and now offer paradigmatic examples that may well appeal to a wider variety of industries.
The leading developers behind online poker have, however, done just that. Here are just four ways in which others can draw inspiration from this genre’s successes.
More so than offering a mere gaming platform, the leading online poker destinations have focussed their attention on creating entire communities within the digital realm.
Official WSOP partner GGPoker has amassed a team of reining champions over the past few years, from Fedor Holz to their Russia, China and Brazil teams – not to mention their very own Twitch Squad, which features big names such as Pamela Balzano, Hristivoje Pavlovic and Torsten Brinkmann.
This phenomenon is part of a wider trend toward uniting the world of the celebrity with the world of the professional gamer, and forging a new platform on which fans of particular genres of gaming can spectate as they would at any traditional sport.
It has, of course, served to bring online poker to the forefront of digital events with remarkable speed – and in unquantifiable ways.
Strong Utilisation of the Medium
It is one thing to organise an event in a digital space. What may once have been a novel idea is now largely commonplace and, over the past few years, the overwhelming majority of us have experienced an online event, in some form or another.
In order to truly make their mark on audiences, however, digital event organisers need to be able to make the very most of the medium they have at their disposal, rather than work against it.
The organisers of the WSOP (World Series of Poker) have long since come to terms with this, and understand that, as they navigate new territory, the key is to set the spectators’ expectations – rather than to simply meet them. Thus, hosts and partners have worked hard to offer the perfect complement to the professional tournaments, enabling fans to play for fun alongside the high stakes action between the industry’s reining champions.
Something Old, Something New
Of course, anyone who holds even a modicum of interest in the world of professional poker knows that the WSOP has been in existence for more than half a century now. It goes without saying, then, that this particular event made its mark on spectators’ lives long before the internet became a mainstay of our lives.
Still, by the mid-90s, its influence had risen swiftly and all-consumingly and, with hindsight, the only way for the tournament to continue to appeal to a growing fanbase was to keep up with the developments occurring in the digital realm.
This is exactly what it did, and now it stands largely unique in its ability to evoke the same feeling in spectators that it first evoked back in the early days of the WSOP’s existence – and to make the most of the very forefront of digital events management and development.
Just last year, a new Guinness World Record was achieved by GGPoker during their hosting of the World Series of Poker 2020 Main Event, when their prize pool reached a staggering sum of $27,559,500. And, to be sure, the tournament’s reputation for continuously pushing the boundaries, raising the stakes, and increasing the on- and off-screen action for fans and players alike is what has given it so much weight in the world of poker.
The pressure will be on for this year’s hosts and providers to ensure that the stakes are higher than ever before but, given the event’s track history IRL and online, we can rest assured knowing that the tournament is once again in safe hands. Once again, this event will no doubt set a high bar for other live, online gaming and sporting events that follow it, and other planners and hosts will do well to learn from its successes.