The PokerStars Championship: Barcelona saw a lot of big stories pop up. PokerStars’ newly rebranded global event series broke its own record for the most attended poker tournament they’d ever run (Spain’s National Championship – a 1k Euro buy-in with over 4.7k runners) and more. Normally these would be the biggest news out of a poker festival – but if that were the case we wouldn’t be commenting on it.
Why? Because spoiler alert: This is a PowerUp community site – we don’t really ruffle our feathers too much about ‘vanilla’ poker.
No – the biggest story from our perspective was PowerUp’s hard public unveiling. While July’s playable Alpha was technically the game’s introduction to the world – this time things got official.
PowerUp’s media friendly presentation covered a lot of old ground, but outside of canned statements by pros and PokerStars brass there was one reveal that took us by surprise and got us even more pumped to delve into the full version of the game once it’s released on PokerStars’ real money client sometime in Q4 of 2017.
PowerUp Poker has its own game universe – and that universe takes place in The Future.
The not too distant future, but nonetheless – this is a reality called the Neutrino. And poker is big in the Neutrino – like world’s biggest sport big. To boot, unlike the ‘en mode’ futures of modern Sci-Fi which tend to see humanity in shades of grey sadness Neutrino is a utopia.
Everyone is happy, everything is techno, and there’s no bigger accomplishment than winning a game on PokerUp’s biggest stage – which we can only assume is every stage from the perspective of players logging on to test their wits against one another.
When PowerUp is fully live – players don’t just log in – they inhabit a complete avatar of their choosing. These aren’t cardboard cutouts either, with each in-game character having their own backstory set in the context of the Neutrino. It’s a light touch – but we think an important one since it blurs the poker/esports line and gives a narrative context to every match.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to see avatar prototypes creating scalable rivalries against one another – or having online communities (*cough* like ours *cough*) subdividing into supporters of specific ones.
Let’s face it – everyone likes to play favorites.
📸 Credit: Melanie Moser Twitter
Will the Neutrino – and the Avatars – create a more diverse metagame?
Perhaps the biggest question we were left with after learning about PowerUp’s in-game universe and the cast of characters that are set to inhabit it is – will this create a diverse array of gameplay option, or are these purely cosmetic embellishments?
We know, or can safely presume at least, that PokerStars’ intends to keep PowerUp’s metagame (the central strategic dynamics underpinning any game other than its direct set of rules) fresh by tinkering with PowerUp Cards, their costs and by adding and removing various powers or time.
The big question is this – will PokerStars make the jump into diversifying powers between their PowerUp avatars though?
If players are able to play one avatar – and it’s unique “class” cards versus others, this might be the dynamic which sets the game up to genuinely join the ranks of other card based behemoths such as Hearthstone and Gwent.
We certainly hope the game gets enough traction to make this a reality. Otherwise, what’s the point of the Neutrino universe other than to put PowerUp at play in a pretty room?