Microgaming Acquires Playwize 3D Poker Software
December 1, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — The rights to the advanced 3D poker software of the now-defunct U.K. firm Playwize plc have been acquired by the Isle of Man-based Internet gambling software provider Microgaming.
A company spokesman described the deal as a further move in the Microgaming quest to deliver innovative, high quality, and interactive gaming experiences to operators and players alike.
Playwize Poker's immersive 3-D environment puts players in the middle of the action, with the ability to interact with their opponents, the spokesman said. Players can customize their player avatar to match their personality and try their hand at hundreds of different possible game genres including Texas Hold 'Em, Omaha, Five Card Stud and Seven Card Stud. The software also includes exclusive tools to help players raise their game, and a complete poker tutorial that teaches players everything from the basics to the advanced techniques of the professionals. In practice game mode, players can get "as-you-play" advice on every move.
Roger Raatgever, CEO of Microgaming, said: "Microgaming is committed to delivering the latest innovation in gaming software to provide players with advanced gaming experiences. We are well known for our ability to stay ahead of the competition by providing our operators with the latest thinking, technology and game features. The Playwize acquisition brings advanced 3D functionality to our poker portfolio which will be enjoyed by thousands of players worldwide."
Playwize has been active in the industry for some years, but fell on hard times recently. In early November this year, the company (formerly known as Bits Corp plc) announced that losses for the half year had grown considerably.
Turnover for the six months to September was £46,000, compared with £32,000 in the same period last year — but pre-tax losses for the period rose to £915,000 versus £66,000.
The group said the passing of anti-online gambling legislation in the U.S. had had a negative impact on the industry as a whole.
In business since 2000, the company was originally a U.K. developer of video games for PC and consoles such as XBOX, PSP, PS2 and Nintendo GameCube. It later brought this technological capability to the field of online gaming, claiming to change the look of online gaming with realistic 3-D environments and other unique features. With Pokerwize, the company's first new offering, players were offered "a revolutionary new way to enjoy the game", including real-time voice chat, full statistics calculator, and an in-depth 3-D tutorial with TV and poker celebrity Helen Chamberlain.
Earlier, in late October, Fouad (Foo) Katan and John Corre, respectively CEO and chairman of Playwize plc, announced that all trading in the company's stocks had been halted, and all employees made redundant. The company had been struggling since 2006, they revealed, and is thought to be another victim of the U.S. ban on financial transactions with online gambling companies (UIGEA).
The move was seen as a likely precursor to the firm and its subsidiaries Bits Studios Ltd; Playwize Games Ltd; Pokerwize Ltd and Magnet Limited going into administration, as it had mounting losses, a declining stock price and significant debt, believed well in excess of £1.5 million.
Although there has been little overt activity in the company since its reported agreement a year ago to provide 3D poker software to U.K. gambling group Ladbrokes, CEO Katan reported as recently as May this year that the company had secured an extension of a longstanding £700,000 loan facility from the Headstart Global Fund and Headstart Global Aggressive Fund.
The extension agreement required that Playwize repay the outstanding interest that has accrued during the initial two-year term of the facility, together with other fees and expenses. Having executed these payments, the outstanding loan notes totaling £700,000 were extended for a further 12 months at 9.5 percent interest. But further draw downs from the original facility were halted.
The company's stock price went from highs around £2.80 to less than 2p over the past year.
In July 2008, the company suspended trading in its shares on London's AIM market "pending clarification of its current financial position." This was followed on October 23rd with the announcement that all trading had ceased and all employees had been made redundant.
Chairman John Corre commented: "Due to very disappointing trading results, and the substantial losses incurred as a result, the Playwize group has ceased all trading operations and made all of its employees redundant.
"In order to raise sufficient funds to pay creditors, the board of directors of the Company has decided to seek shareholder approval for the sale of the proprietary software technology and other assets owned by the Company and its subsidiaries, and contracts have been signed for the sale of these assets subject to the aforementioned approval being granted in a general meeting of the Company.