PokerStars Rolls Out Stars Rewards Changes in Italy
Last month, PokerStars announced that it is revamping its Stars Rewards program. Not significantly, mind you, not like when it launched the Chests system for the first time, but rather making adjustments to the Chests program that currently exists. The system has been in place since 2017, an attempt to “gamify” rewards for players, to keep them interested in playing as much as possible. There are a lot of moving parts, though, so PokerStars is going to try to simplify things a bit. And while most players have yet to see any changes, the new system has been rolled out in Italy.
In a blog post in February, PokerStars said feedback it had gotten from customers was that “the experience of opening a Chest isn’t as meaningful as it could be.” Thus, the changes that Stars decided to make to Stars Rewards were as follows:
• Adjusting the frequency and value of Stars Rewards Chests. The value of each Chest will be more than tripled, with the frequency of earning them reduced by a similar factor.
• Removing the ‘boost’ feature as an always available feature and transferring the majority of the value customers earned from the boost into the value inside the Chests themselves.
• Implementing new, easier to understand rules for how customers move up and down the six Chests levels. Moving up a Chest level will be achieved by earning 10 Chests over a rolling 28-day period and every progress bar will have a 28-day expiry to compete (failing to complete will move you down a Chest level).
• The addition of a new ‘Exchange’ feature which will let players who are struggling to complete their progress bar in a reasonable amount of time the option to trade in their partial progress for an immediate reward.
Most of those bullet points are straightforward. Boosts are gone for the Italian market now. Of course, “transferring the majority of the value customers earned from the boost into the value inside the Chests themselves” is a bit of a dubious proposition, since we can’t really fully measure if this is happening, but hey, that’s what Stars said.
The leveling-up process should be welcomed by players. Rather than needing to earn four Chests in a day to advance to the next level, it is now ten chests over a rolling 28-day period. Thus, there is less pressure day-to-day to get online. Word is that Chests are more difficult to earn now, though I have not been able to verify this myself. Fortunately, with the “Exchange” feature, players can cash in partially-earned Chests.
Chests Worth More Than Before
The change that most people will be concerned with is the value of the Stars Rewards Chests. As it states above, the value of each Chest will be “more than tripled.” So let’s see, calculating the expected value of a Chest based on the frequency of receiving the different possible rewards (I have “proficient with Microsoft Excel” on my resume), Italy’s old system (and the current system elsewhere on the planet Earth), we get the following:
Platinum: € 22.52
And here are the expected values for the new system (note: the Chest colors have changed for some reason, so just pay attention to their order):
Blue: €0.50 (every Blue Chest is worth this much, there is no variation)
For the most part, PokerStars was correct. The expected value of five of the six Chest tiers has more that tripled. The only one that hasn’t is the third tier (formerly Bronze, now Silver in Italy), which has increased about two and a half times. Close enough, I suppose.
As mentioned earlier, though, the Chests are now more difficult to earn, so it actually remains to be seen if the value per Rewards point or for a player’s time is any better. It seems that the goal was more to make a player feel happier when they open a Chest than to actually provide a ton more value, though since I am not on PokerStars, I don’t know exactly how much more difficult Chests are to earn.
Tournament Players Get the Short End
One change to Rewards that was already made, regardless of market, was a reduction of Rewards points for multi-table tournament players. Players in these tourneys, which PokerStars calls “scheduled tournaments,” are now earning just 45 Rewards points for every Euro/Dollar in entry fees instead of 100, a 55 percent reduction.
PokerStars says that those lost Rewards will be distributed elsewhere:
This is a reduction in the overall amount of rewards some players will receive, but made in an area that we believe will have the least impact on their experience and enable us to place even more focus where we know it matters most. This includes offering the largest tournament guarantees like the €20m Winter Series guarantee in Southern Europe as well as record-breaking COOPs and Sunday Millions, and providing the most exciting live event experiences in poker.
I would guess that players would prefer the more tangible, immediate Rewards, rather than extra prize pool money they might never see, but what’s done is done.