Jawfish Poker is an iOS release from Jawfish Games. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and carries additional in-app purchases.
There are a ton of poker games on the market, and few manage to stand out. For every successful poker app, there’s a handful that follow the same formula and fail to pick up any momentum. The lack of diversity found in poker games creates an opening for games that are able to follow the basic concept of poker, but add its own spin. Jawfish Poker is a wonderful example of taking a popular idea, making a tiny change, and feeling a major impact.
Jawfish Poker is based around Texas Hold’em. Players are each given two cards, five cards are placed in the middle, and whoever can make the best five-card poker hand will win the round. Jawfish Poker takes that popular idea, and makes a change to one of the biggest parts of the game — betting. Real poker features a level of competitive betting every time new hands are dealt and new cards are shown. Jawfish Poker removes the deep level of strategy that comes from large groups and frequent betting. Instead, the system is based around one-on-one matchups where players get two choices: fold or go all-in. Serious poker enthusiasts may find this setup to be odd or downright childish, but casual fans who crave fast-paced gameplay may find exactly what their looking for.
There are two main modes to Jawfish Poker: Tournaments and King of the Hill. Tournaments are a series of head-to-head hands where players bet all or nothing and the last remaining competitor wins. There are three entry fee levels for tournaments, using in-game gold. The more gold players pay up front, the larger the prize pool is. Players who want to fight for the largest possible prize will be more interested in King of the Hill. This mode works similar to tournaments, but players can enter with various amounts of gold. The goal in King of the Hill is to continuously earn gold and battle to the top of the leaderboard in order to win the jackpot once the timer runs out. Competition is fierce in King of the Hill and users with large amounts of gold have a distinct advantage, but wisely playing the odds gives everyone a fair shot. (more…)
SlotoLotto Slot Machines is a new Facebook game from Peak Games. It’s available now for anyone to play on the social network, and is currently featured on the front page of App Center.
SlotoLotto Slot Machines is a very conventional slot machine simulation that allows players to compete on a selection of 18 different virtual machines, though only one is available to begin with. The game opens with a completely unnecessary tutorial that simply points out things like the “spin” button and doesn’t really explain how the machine itself works — a simple help screen pointing out interface elements would have been better and got players into the game quicker.
Once past the initial tutorial, which is mercifully short, gameplay takes the form of some very straightforward multi-line slot machines. Players gain experience points for each spin, with more experience gained for larger bets. Leveling up sometimes unlocks new machines, and these later machines tend to offer a combination of more possible win lines and larger allowed bets per line. Leveling up also rewards the player with virtual currency bonuses — though as usual, virtual currency may also be purchased and acquired in small quantities through a regular timed bonus mechanic that counts down in the corner of the screen.
Social-mobile gaming developer Digital Chocolate today launched its first real-money gaming title Slots! Pocket UK for iOS in the U.K.
Powered by real-money gaming platform Betable, Slots! Pocket UK is a slots game that allows U.K. users the option to wager either real money or virtual currency and chips on pulls of the slot machine. Betable first announced its partnership with Digital Chocolate back in November 2012. Digital Chocolate is one of 10 developers so far to partner with Betable for its real-money gaming platform, which is still a private beta program. Betable handles all the real-money aspects of the game on the backend, including compliance, fraud prevention, identity checks, wagering, and gambling results, while Digital Chocolate can focus on the development of the actual game. In order for players to gamble with real money, they must be authenticated with Betable by signing up, depositing money, and more.
“[Betable] helped us leapfrog the whole race into real-money gaming by allowing us to partner with them on their platform, and of course, they have the license in the U.K. to do real-money gaming,” Jason Loia, chief operating officer of Digital Chocolate, told Inside Mobile Apps.
Zynga Plus Poker is a new real-money gaming service from the social gaming giant. At present, it is available in the U.K. — its availability in other territories will depend on local laws relating to online gambling. Zynga Plus Poker is one of two real-money gaming services that the company has launched recently — the other being Zynga Plus Casino, which we explored yesterday.
Like Zynga Plus Casino, Zynga Plus Poker is playable both via a dedicated client app that is available for both Windows and Mac machines, and via the Web in a Java-based “Instant Play” pop-up window. There are currently a few issues when attempting to run the Web-based version of Zynga Plus Poker in certain browsers such as Chrome on the Mac, but Safari and Firefox offer a more reliable experience, and Zynga is aware of the problems. Players are pushed very strongly in the direction of the downloadable client from the service’s front page.
As with Zynga Plus Casino, Zynga Plus Poker requires players to sign up for a proprietary account in order to play — though if they already have an account for Zynga Plus Casino, this may be used for Zynga Plus Poker and vice versa. Any balance that the player has in their account can be shared between the two games, though at the time of writing I encountered some issues where all of my real-money balance was regarded as “restricted” and thus it did not appear to be possible to bring it into real-money games. It’s not clear whether this is a problem with the service or if there are some prerequisites that I have not met, and the help function in the app itself does not do a very good job of explaining what a “restricted” balance is or why it is restricted.
Zynga Plus Casino is a new real-money gaming service from the social gaming giant. At present, it is available in the U.K. — its availability in other territories will depend on local laws relating to online gambling. Zynga Plus Casino is one of two real-money gaming services that the company has launched recently — the other being Zynga Plus Poker, which we’ll take a closer look at tomorrow.
Zynga Plus Casino may be accessed either via the Web or a dedicated downloadable piece of client software. The Web version does not work correctly on Mac OS X-based devices, failing to recognize when the user is logged in, and the downloadable client is only available for Windows-based computers at this time — so either way, Mac users are out of luck at present.
A Zynga Plus Casino account may be used in Zynga Plus Poker and vice-versa, so it’s only necessary for the player to create one account. In order to do so, they must provide their personal details, including their name, address and date of birth. There’s no apparent means of identity-checking in place to verify the user’s age aside from the birthdate selector — gamblers in the U.K. must be at least 18 years of age in order to play. There’s also no means of registering for an account with Facebook or other social networks — the Zynga Plus services use their own proprietary accounts.
Solitaire Arena is a Facebook game from Mavenhut Ltd. It’s been available since October of last year but has been showing strong growth recently, and is presently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center. The developer also claims it is available for iPad but provides no link, and a cursory search of the App Store doesn’t seem to reveal the existence of a mobile version.
Unlike many other recent Facebook-based solitaire games, which follow the simplistic formula seen in titles such as Fairway Solitaire, Faerie Solitaire and Solitaire Blitz, Solitaire Arena is based on the traditional and well-known Klondike Solitaire game that Windows users have been playing for many years now. The unusual social twist on the formula is that it is played in competition against another player, whereas traditional Klondike is played solo — hence the “solitaire” part of the name.
Klondike Solitaire is a card game where players must gradually build up their four “foundation” piles according to suit and in sequential order, beginning with aces. Cards may be sent to the foundations as soon as they are revealed if there is a place for them — and in fact by default, Solitaire Arena handles this part automatically, though this behavior may be switched off if desired. In order to reveal other cards, players must build up stacks of face-up cards in the main play area (known as the “tableau”) by making descending sequences that alternate in color — for example black king followed by red queen followed by black jack. Empty spaces in the tableau may only be filled with a king, and if moving a card to another stack reveals a face-down card, it is turned face-up and can be used immediately. If there are no available moves, the player draws a card from a draw deck in the corner of the screen and may use this if possible. When the draw deck is exhausted, it is reshuffled and may be drawn from again. The player scores one point for each card they send to the foundations, with an additional bonus point per card if their opponent has not yet sent that card to their foundations. The on-screen play area is mostly taken up by the player’s tableau and foundations, but the opponent’s foundations and score may be seen in the corner of the screen so the player may keep an eye on their relative performance.
Last week, social casino developer Win released its first title with Slots Craze. While it might be tempting to dismiss the title as yet another entry into a genre crowded with extremely similar games, Slots Craze marks the online gambling group bwin.party’s first official step into the social games market following its $50 million commitment to do so last year. Win CEO and Founder Barak Rabinowitz recently took some time to chat with us about what bwin.party wants to do with social games and what we can expect to see from his company in the near future.
Rabinowitz started his career working at financial firm Morgan Stanley before going to Harvard to earn his MBA. After that, he went to work for Yahoo! in London in 2006 and subsequently co-founded the skill gaming platform Amuso, which he later sold to the BBC. After that, Rabinowitz ran MyTopia, which focused on the gambling genre and created Bingo Island, which then acquired by 888.
“Nobody was talking about social games yet, but everyone was talking about community games,” Rabinowitz explains to us. “We saw the huge rise of social media and saw the attractive business model of skill games where users could play for small amounts of cash. Because these games were determined by users skill instead of chance, they were legal to distribute in most places around the world.” (more…)
Celebrity Slots is a new Facebook game from casino game specialists Product Madness. It’s available now for anyone to play, and is presently enjoying a featured spot on the front page of the social network’s App Center.
Despite the name, Celebrity Slots has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with celebrities and is instead a rather conventional collection of 16 different virtual slot machines, all of which are of the simplistic multi-line variety seen in all other Facebook-based slot machine sims. Each game features a unique aesthetic, available number of lines and maximum bet along with its own selection of infrequently-occurring bonus games. Basic gameplay, as ever for the genre, consists largely of repeatedly clicking the “Spin” button over and over again and hoping winning combinations come up. Some visual interest is added by animated items on the reels and the ability to share big wins on one’s Timeline, but other than that the core gameplay is very conventional and rather dull. (more…)
Slots Craze is a new Facebook casino game, and the first release from bwin.party’s new social gaming arm Win. It’s available now to be played by anyone, but is yet to see any significant promotion via Facebook’s App Center or sidebar modules.
Slots Craze is a very conventional multi-line slot machine simulator. As usual for the genre, the game does not waste time with tutorials, instead assuming the player knows (or can figure out) how a slot machine works. The game allows betting on up to 30 lines on one of six currently-available machines, with the player’s maximum bet and number of accessible machines increasing as they level up simply through playing. Each slot machine plays fundamentally identically, but has a different audio-visual theme and bonus game. Some slot machines also have minor adjustments to the mechanics, too — for example, the pirate-themed Peg Leg Greg machine features wild card symbols that can expand to fill other rows and columns on the reels, making it possible to create a huge number of matches and a big win with a single spin. (more…)
Slot Buster is a new Facebook game from Wedge Buster. It’s currently enjoying a feature spot in the New Games category of Facebook’s App Center.
Slot Buster is, as the name suggests, a slot machine simulation game. Upon starting the game for the first time, the player is immediately bombarded with a selection of pop-ups showing them how to accept and send gifts and how to acquire a daily bonus, inviting them to Like the game on Facebook and offering them a “starter pack” of in-game currency. It’s several clicks before the player can get into the game proper, and many of these popups return any time the player leaves the game idle for more than a couple of minutes or returns to the lobby — the game is particularly fond of showing players “special deals for level [x] players” and implying that it is the only chance they will have to take advantage of that offer.
Once into the game proper, the experience is very conventional for the genre. The player begins with access to a single low-stakes machine and gradually unlocks additional machines with higher stakes and new visual themes by leveling up. Experience points, used to level up, are earned through simply playing the machines — the amount the player bets on a single spin corresponds exactly to the number of experience points they gain, so if they want to level up quicker they will need to play on higher-stakes machines. (more…)