Indie Mobile Game Shoutout: How Poker Heroes Pulls off an Innovative Genre Mash-Up

Developer Stories

August 3, 2015


min read

This is the first in a series of posts spotlighting indie mobile games that have won the hearts of the toughest critics: industry insiders, themselves.[caption id="attachment_9657" align="alignleft" width="167"]


Shannon Chang[/caption]Shannon Chang takes gaming seriously. She recently joined Linekong, a publicly-traded Chinese game developer and publisher, to lead partnerships and publishing in international markets. She?s been immersed in the gaming industry for many years and she?s been playing games for much longer."I'm an avid gamer and have been playing mid-core and hardcore games for almost 20 years across console, PC and, most recently, mobile games. In general, RTS and RPGs have been among my favorite game genres," she says.When we asked Chang about the mobile game she can't put down we weren?t surprised by its title. Given her passionate playing of poker after-hours in our monthly office tournament, the more she told us about it, the more we realized that it was the game's quirky combination of RPG mechanics and poker that got her hooked.[caption id="attachment_9658" align="aligncenter" width="900"]


Image via Youtube[/caption]The game:Poker Heroes. Chang describes it as a ?military poker RPG," where players battle waves of enemies through hands of poker.The gameplay: Collecting, upgrading and building. The meta-game is a combination of collecting and upgrading heroes, while building decks strategically to defeat waves of enemies. By playing strategy hands, players can achieve sweeping combos to multiply their attack points. Chang discovered the game, which is currently in soft-launch in Canada, on a game developer forum.[caption id="attachment_9659" align="aligncenter" width="900"]


Image via Fat Rascal Games[/caption]The studio: Fat Rascal Games. This Bellevue, WA-based indie studio is a nine-person team of engineers, designers and artists. Poker Heroes is a slight departure from their previous games ? Puzzles and Robofrog and Jubbly Wubbly ? which were more casual and puzzle-focused in nature.The monetization strategy: IAPs. The game has 3 in-app currencies: gems, coins and chips. Gems are the premium currency used to replenish stamina (there are two kinds: PVE energy and PVP energy), win new heroes with premium gacha, and expand your inventory slots. Gems are used to purchase the two soft currencies, coins and chips.[caption id="attachment_9660" align="alignright" width="360"]


Image via the App Store[/caption]The differentiator: Poker Heroes brings together two unexpected genres: role-playing and poker. The blend, for Chang, is a welcome one, since it makes the battle sequence more exciting than other RPG games she typically plays?combining the core feeling of battling heroes with the thrill of playing poker. Some playable and non-playable characters are assigned a type, either rock, paper, or scissors, which offers advantages or disadvantages against other cards. For example, paper type heroes have an added attack bonus against rock type enemies."The battle gameplay is a fun spin on traditional poker and Texas Hold'em as you're dealt cards in multiple waves and given the option to re-flop, hold or charge cards," she adds. "They've also introduced joker cards into the deck, which throws an entirely new hand into the possible winning combinations and provides awesome attack and chip bonuses based on the hand you play. In the meta-game, RPG mechanics provide a deep growth strategy within the game and allow players to strategically level-up Hero cards and manage multiple decks."There are also strong social elements, such as a feature where players can borrow heroes from other players to use as the Joker card in their own deck or attack each other?s base. And, Fat Rascal, if you're reading this: Chang loves the fact that she can connect with other players and hopes the next iteration of the game will enable a chat feature for some serious smack talking.

Chang is actively looking for high quality games to publish, feel free to email her at shannon [at] if you have an ace up your sleeve.