Empire Online experienced a 24% drop in share value yesterday after PartyGaming Plc. announced the launch of its new PartyPoker.com platform. PartyGaming shares dropped 11%.
The popular poker room's new platform effectively separates poker players who enter the platform through poker skins, such as Empire Poker, from those who enter via PartyPoker.com directly.
Empire Online and other skins are expected to lose further from this new arrangement as they can no longer boast access to PartyPoker.com's liquid player base, which is considered a key driving force for players. Industry experts are speculating that this move signals the beginnings of a 'divorce' between the long-time partners.
Empire Poker has been one of the main poker skins serving PartyPoker.com in recent years, and has even been credited with supplying a majority of the poker room's new players. As of late, however, it seems that Empire has been diverting new players to its own poker room platforms, such as Noble Poker, which operate on a different system than PartyPoker.com, and away from skins such as Empire Poker.
Nonetheless, Empire Online has reportedly embraced the move largely because PartyGaming has introduced new features to the poker skins which are expected to attract new players. PartyGaming has further affirmed its commitment to its skins by emphasizing that they remain dedicated to their partnerships with these sites.