The Virtue Poker team has made significant strides toward our Beta release. There is a lot that’s new, and we are happy to announce that we will be shipping the Beta release, with a lot of new features, in the next few weeks. More on this in a bit.
Please note that we assume you have read our previous updates. The last two significant updates we did were in the VP Monthly Update #3 and the VP Monthly Update #4, which are recommended reading before going forward.
The biggest challenge of any development effort is creating a functional product — that is, a version of the product that has all of the base functionality hooked up. We had a rudimentary functional application when we did our first Alpha release back in May — in fact, that first Alpha release surprised us with its robustness. Alpha releases are typically functional but buggy, but we were able to showcase our first Alpha release at the Ethereal Conference in Brooklyn without a single crash.
That version and our next two releases allowed poker hands to be played properly and (usually) to completion, but a lot of the functionality that makes Virtue Poker unique wasn’t yet implemented. In addition, some components that are critical for launch were not yet integrated.
In our December Alpha v3 release, we released a Justice for the first time. While we intentionally made that release very low-key, it was a monumental event in the history of Virtue Poker. We have continued to improve the Justice functionality, and are excited the Justice implementation works properly.
The Dev Team’s primary goals now that the critical base components are complete are:
- Addition of Sit & Go tournaments. While this game type had product specifications built well over a year ago, we held off final development until we were comfortable that the base functionality of the platform was stable. The Dev Team has begun the buildout of this functionality, which we expect to be in the second Beta release.
- Implementation of Cashier functionality. Up to now, we have done most of the Cashier functions manually, which consisted almost entirely of one-way transactions (giving VPPs and ETH to players). This new functionality includes the ability to deposit and withdraw VPP and ETH, and enables creation of a fixed source of funds (a security and anti-money-laundering regulatory requirement). We now have a fully-functional Cashier implemented, allowing players to easily move funds from their external Ethereum wallets onto the platform.
- Implementation of Game Security methods. Our Game Security team has been building up the technical infrastructure for storing and analyzing game data. The team has now fully implemented the real-time collection of in-game events, as well as sidechain and Ethereum blockchain transactions to and from wallets. The team is now actively working on anti-money laundering measures, as well as detection and reporting frameworks for detecting cheating within the game.
- Addition of auto-update. In past versions, Alpha testers had to download and install a new client every time we made changes. To prepare the client for production release, we have implemented the auto-update process. The client now asks the server if it has the correct version; if there is a mismatch, the update downloads/installs automatically.
- Implementation of seamless data replication to regulators. To comply with the terms of our Malta Gaming License Agreement, we have aligned with a data center operator in Malta. The Game Security team has developed a process for seamlessly replicating the required production data to our operator location, providing regulators with the required oversight into our data and ensuring that we are fully compliant when we launch.
The upcoming Beta release, which we expect to ship by mid-April, will include all of the above improvements except Sit & Go tournaments, which will be implemented shortly after this release. It also includes:
- improved betting action buttons
- timeout improvements
- Justice updates, including stability and deployment improvements
- new player registration service
Our strategy is to be the first regulated blockchain based online poker platform. One of our biggest near-term hurdles is obtaining an operator license from one of the primary online gaming regulatory authorities. As indicated in previous updates, we have chosen Malta as the first jurisdiction to which we are applying for an operator license. We expected to submit this application in February, but were delayed by some changes in the technology that required us to modify the submission. We are submitting our application this week.
As we edged closer to release, we realized that it was time to reorganize into functional teams that focus on getting the product out the door. This reorganization, in the works for several months, has now been implemented, so we are well-positioned to begin the final development process. We have added one more developer to the team, which rounds out the Dev Team and is likely the last developer staff we will add before our mainnet release.
The Marketing team has been working on promotions for the upcoming Beta release and our presence at the Ethereal Conference in Brooklyn in May, a key press event for Virtue Poker. We are also focusing on the Ethereum mainnet launch plan.
Token Listing/Trading Capability
Because Virtue Poker intends to operate only in licensed and regulated markets, it is critical to our long-term strategy that we act responsibly and within accepted guidelines for legal and regulated online gambling sites. The fact that Virtue Poker is blockchain-based doesn’t exempt us from regulation.
Our strategy is to work together with regulators who are interested in licensing this new technology, with the goal of creating a new standard for how online gaming sites operate. We feel this is the optimal approach versus launching in black or gray markets without regulation, creating distrust for blockchain-based gaming.
We are beginning conversations with our partners and advisors regarding the best strategic approach to launching our token. However, to be clear: we will only list our token when it has utility within the platform.
Those of you who have been involved in development projects, especially for leading-edge technologies, know that predicting release dates with software is a difficult task. We are working with a new technology that hasn’t been used previously in production software. We understand that delays are frustrating, but luckily the most difficult development hurdles are past us, and we are excited to ship the first production version of the software later this year.
We have an extraordinary team doing extraordinary work; we ask that you stick with us and be patient while we complete the work to make Virtue Poker a world-leading poker product.