Zoom launches Live Game Night Poker with FlowPlayby Dean Takahashi · VentureBeat
The Seattle-based FlowPlay created this Texas Hold ‘Em game as a new app embedded within Zoom Meetings. The video app is available in the Zoom App Marketplace for those who are still stuck in long-distance communication, which I think is most of us.
Sadly, it doesn’t have a boss key, where you could play it in the middle of an important meeting while the boss is giving a speech. While the world sets its sights on returning to normalcy, some pandemic-era changes are here to stay. As many organizations embrace a hybrid workforce for the foreseeable future, HR and IT teams are tasked with how to build and sustain a company culture virtually.
Live Game Night Poker uses video technology to provide as close to an in-person connection as possible, allowing up to 10 of a host’s colleagues to play together in a face-to-face matchup. You’re playing for fun, since it offers no way to engage in real-money wagering in the game, said FlowPlay CEO Derrick Morton in an interview with GamesBeat. But you can do things like pay money for avatars and other kinds of digital items in the games.
“We built a video poker game last summer as a response to COVID,” Morton said. “But it was kind of tough because it was meant for personal groups, where you invite your friends to it. We were struggling with how to build an audience for it. Then we showed it to Zoom, and they felt like it would be a perfect fit.”
Ross Mayfield, the product lead for Zoom Apps & Integrations, said in a statement that FlowPlay’s poker game offers a new way for people to connect through gameplay.
“You can upgrade those avatars and buy (virtual) drinks for the table,” Morton said. “It’s not about making money from the get-go. We make plenty of money. What we really want to do is build a big audience for this kind of product.”
The potential is good, because 300 million monthly active users around the world are using Zoom. Morton said his company has other games that are coming.
Live Game Night Poker for Zoom is available for free today in the Zoom App Marketplace. To play, you simply install the game from the Zoom App Marketplace and start a Zoom meeting as you normally would. Once in the meeting, you can launch the game from the Zoom Apps tab at the bottom of the meeting window. The meeting host will be able to configure the game options. Once the host has set up the game, meeting participants will be taken directly to the poker room and play can begin.
Zoom Apps enable a seamless experience for using other programs in Zoom. The idea is to use them to boost meeting productivity with apps for file sharing, project management, whiteboarding, and so on. Zoom Apps inspire collaboration and foster engagement by enabling meeting participants to execute in real-time, and get more out of meetings.
“I still don’t think everybody is quite comfortable with just going back to complete normalcy,” Morton said.
Morton said the process got started late last year, and it really took about 90 days to build the game.
“I think it’s a platform that’s going to have legs,” Morton said. “We’ve all gotten pretty comfortable using Zoom. Obviously, we pooh-pooh it and say not another Zoom meeting. But for getting together with people that you don’t otherwise get to reach out to, it’s a great way to bring people together. Especially if it’s a group of friends or relatives. This is another way to connect people.”
You can see real players in their video screens. Avatars corresponding to them sit at the table, so you can see the faces, talk to people, and hear their laughter. That means you can read faces to see if someone is bluffing, Morton said. That makes for a better experience than a lot of poker apps in the market.
“There aren’t as many real-time video poker games on the market,” Morton said. “And lots of other games you are playing with strangers.”
FlowPlay has a platform for casual and sports wagering games, virtual worlds, and social occasions. A developer, operator, and publisher, FlowPlay serves both consumers and businesses with online and mobile free-to-play experiences. FlowPlay’s games include OurWorld, Vegas World, Casino World, and 7 Seas Casino. More than 75 million people have played these games since 2006. FlowPlay’s investors include Intel Capital and the creators of Skype. FlowPlay has 65 employees. I think they’re going to be quite busy making Zoom games.
Separately, Playco said it has also developed two game apps for Zoom: a new version of Ellen’s smash hit Heads Up! and an ice-breaker game titled Ask Away, both fully integrated as Zoom Apps and accessible directly from Zoom meetings.