Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Happened to Yahoo Spades!

Let’s forget about the actual business side of Yahoo for a second! One of the true staples of Yahoo was Yahoo Games when it was launched some time ago. Spades, dominoes, and literati were all popular favorites at one time or another.  At present, it seems as though the “true spades players” have migrated to other gaming sites, or they aren’t playing as much as did before. What happened? Maybe all of the changes that Yahoo made to increase the gaming experience did not work out as well as they thought. We examine!

Yahoo found a way to control player booting.  Booting was a way of removing a player from a rated game in order to gain a win by forfeit.  Software programs were created (and sold) for the purpose of instant message (IM) bombing of another player. This would cause the player to lose connection and thus, forfeit the game within a 3 minute time period.  Without rampant booting, Yahoo effectively took away a cheaters advantage…which is a good thing! Yahoo also went soft! No longer are players allowed to be “mean” or nasty.  Curse your opponent out in today’s games, and you’re likely to end up with a 3 day suspension.  While some might consider the “niceness” aspect of the game an improvement, it’s clearly a turnoff for traditional trash talkers.

Consequently, there is generally no form of due process in the execution of the 3 day suspension.

In an effort to improve the game, Yahoo worked on removing the cheat methods, eliminated chat, and removed the skill element of the game. No longer are you allowed to taunt your opponents and Yahoo Spades is no longer a place where everybody knows your name.  While the overall gaming experience might have improved, I’m not sure this is what the players really wanted!

Understandably, there is a fine line between keeping old players and adding new ones.  Yahoo has a tough challenge in trying to balance the competitive aspects of the game, and keeping the lesser skilled players happy! The dynamic is such that; with even card distributions, better players will always win. Would you continue to play at a site that you rarely win at?  Probably not; especially if your rating is your status symbol.  Yahoo realizes this as well, and chooses to make the gaming experience more about luck than skill. Going set once in a game typically puts an end to your chance of winning a game of spades! At Yahoo, you can be set 2, 3, or 4 times, and still have a chance to win the game.  Now that is ridiculous!

Finally, if you aren’t able to protect your shield (your rating) you don’t have much of a choice, but to start over.  Usually, this means starting a new id or nic, in an effort to gain a good rating! This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but you sort of lose your spades identity the more nics you create.  In the past, you could bounce into spades, and recognize ¾’s of the people in the room.  With the new Yahoo, you would be lucky to recognize 5 people.  

Years ago, you could play Spades, and chat via the game room messenger. This feature is no longer available because its use supported a multitude of cheats! While some of elements of cheating have been controlled by eliminating chat, some players actually liked the ability to taunt their opponents.  Yahoo also placed a high limit on player ratings! Players are no longer allowed to obtain a rating past 3500.  I’m not sure what purpose a cap serves, but in absence of the cap, it was easy to identify cheats and boosters.
 Yahoo Spades use to be the place where the best of the best online spades gamers played.  If you were a good player, you could obtain a decent rating at Yahoo! That spades rating served as sort of an online gaming status symbol. Good ratings increased your popularity, and you felt like the “big man on campus”!  If your rating was not so good, you might be relegated to playing in beginner or social rooms.  For the most part, the fun reasons to play Yahoo Spades have mostly been taken away.


  1. How did they take away the skill element??

  2. I have played this game since the beginning of it on Yahoo! I first started when "illegals" were creatable and rated games were reported to cases ladder... I have loved the Yahoo! Spades environment for years and was once so addicted to the game and the "socializing" that it once provided. Many of the things mentioned in this post are strong points. Simple fact is now that not only is Yahoo! Spades no longer a place for the best of the best like it used to be, it simply isn't available anymore...

  3. I use to be one of the number one Cases Ladder players in yahoo spades long ago. Was a lot of fun playing back then. Does anyone know where the Cases Ladder crowd migrated to?

  4. There is a new Spades site like Yahoo but looks even better! Let's all join! Stemwater Spades

  5. But on a few occasions Gmail also makes you feel uncomfortable working while using the Gmail Email Applications. Overall it is useful and beneficial webmail partner for the billions of registered Gmail users.

  6. Is there any comparable venue now? The FB spades are just HORRIBLE!