A Poker game worth Revisiting

A lot of hardcore gamers and fans of the Tomb Raider series are unaware that in 2006, Eidos Interactive released a mobile Java game called Lara Croft’s Poker Party. You may think this is a hoax similar to the cheat that enables you to strip Lara naked, but I can assure you, it’s not. It’s not surprising that even on a major game review site like GameSpot, there’s no decent description of the game. Here’s why:

Mobile Technology in 2006

This game was released in Java enabled mobile phones in 2006. Think back, what were the mobile phones in 2006 like? Back then, Sony’s Cyber-shot technology was coming out for the first time, allowing photo sharing for the first time and Motorola’s RAZR phones were selling very well because of their unique and trendy designs. These models are now considered archaic, compared to the technology we just saw at the IFA trade show in Berlin. While poker was very popular during these times, it was too early to release a game that required better handling and control functions for a decent poker game. The idea was, unfortunately, too much ahead of its time. In 2012, partypoker DE became one of the first gaming sites to offer real money poker in Germany and it became an instant hit because, at the time, most of the casual games played were developed for mobile platforms and the population of mobile owners was at an all-time high. Proof that timing, apart from location, is one aspect of business you should consider.

One Player Option

The concept of virtual poker was ahead of its time, but there was little appeal to actually play it. A one player option for a game of poker simply meant you were up against an AI that would either suck or be impossible to beat. Even with the limited mobile technology, it was glaringly obvious that the 2-player game of snake, connected via infrared, elevated gameplay. Mashable writer, Jason Schreier, postulates that social interaction, cooperation and bragging rights make social games powerful. And with a game like poker, you can be sure that bragging comes as natural as bluffing.

Internet Speed

The one-player option and the limited mobile technology were not the only reasons the game never took off, it was also due to the slow internet speed in 2006. Downloading the game was a headache and no one got passed this process to even start playing it. This is why console games were the game of choice back then, nothing was worth doing online because of the speed. Poker is a fast paced game and betting habits or digital tells are very evident in the way you bet or call online. The average internet speed in 2006 was 56Kbps, according to Website Optimization. With that kind of latency you might as well be playing the game blindfolded.

Lara Croft’s Poker Party was a prime example of a popular product that wasn’t delivered well enough for the consumers to like it. Poker was very popular during those times because of the televised tournaments and the gaming franchise was enjoying the same amount of success. Is it worth to revive the poker game now? Only time will tell.