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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW Madison student Emik Vayts creates beer pong app, Planet Pong

Planet Pong offers interactive beer pong experience for all ages
Emik Vayts

The abundance of beer pong enthusiasts on the University of Wisconsin campus, currently cooped up with nothing fun to do due to COVID-19, now have a new way to alleviate their boredom.

Planet Pong is an iPhone app companion to real life beer pong, allowing players to spice up the game they know and love with different game modes coming soon. The app, released on April 4 after multiple iterations and trials, is a true testament to founder Emik Vayts’ persistence and hard work.

Planet Pong began as a passion project in Vayts’ basement in the summer of 2018. Emik was bored at home one day, missing his friends, when he came up with the idea.


“When I came home for the summer, I thought to myself, how can I play beer pong without actually being at a party and playing with other people?” Vayts said. “I was tired of not always running the table and wanted a way to practice.”

Just two months later, Vayts finished the first Planet Pong prototype — a large wooden machine which functioned very similarly to the basketball arcade game Pop-a-shot, dispensing balls and keeping track of the player’s score. Vayts soon realized, however, producing more of these machines would not be economically viable and decided to transition Planet Pong into a different line of products.

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The second stage of Planet Pong consisted of a lighter-weight machine paired with a very simple application, allowing the player to play different game modes on the machine while keeping track of their score on a phone. Vayts entered this product in Transcend Madison, an entrepreneurship competition on campus, and took home $3 thousand after winning the fan vote.

“We ended up getting a bunch of our friends to come through to the competition,” Vayts said. “Our fans made it possible to get the funding.” 

Transcend Madison also provided the Planet Pong team with valuable feedback on how to market their product, something Vayts was struggling with at the time. The competition ended up being another huge turning point for Planet Pong, and Vayts realized he would have to focus on a single aspect of his product if he wanted to make it available to the public.

“When we entered the competition we didn’t know where to enter the market, and we were trying to do too much with the product,” Vatys said. “I felt down and discouraged because it didn’t feel realistic to do everything we wanted to do.”

Soon after the competition, Vayts shifted his focus to creating Planet Pong as an application that functions without additional machinery. This was a breakthrough for Vayts’ team which consisted of five other UW students assisting Vayts with everything from web development to sound effects.

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Now, a little less than a year after Transcend Madison, Planet Pong is available for iPhone users everywhere to play and enjoy with their friends and family. Following the release of the app, Emik celebrated with an online release party where he explained the features of the app and played a game of pong with his younger siblings, who sipped apple juice throughout the game.

This wholesome celebration may come as a surprise to critics of beer pong or alcohol consumption, but Planet Pong does not endorse drinking alcohol, or even mention it a single time on any of its platforms.

Vayts does not believe the stigma of binge drinking should be attached to his app.

“We’re providing you with an app. What you chose to do with it is up to you,” Vayts said. “The main focus of Planet Pong is not drinking, it’s creating an interactive game people can play with their friends. People can choose to drink if they like.”

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Vayts also adressed the future of the app, which currently only contains one game mode.

“Battleship showcases all the current features of the app,” Vayts said. “Now that the app is available to the public, we can add different game modes and see what people like the most.”

Be on the lookout for new additions to Planet Pong in the near future, potentially including a Planet Pong fitness mode which gives players different workouts to do every time their opponent hits a cup.

For more information on Planet Pong, you can check out their website here, and be sure to follow them on Instagram here for updates and promotional content.

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