Esports has finally got its deserved place on the global gaming map
The interview with Mario Ovcharov, CEO UltraPlay, for Infinity Gaming Magazine, November, can be seen here.
Q: Mario many thanks for speaking to Infinity Gaming Magazine, you are the CEO at UltraPlay, can you tell our readers how long you have been with the company and what the company business is?
MO: I joined UltraPlay in 2014 when the company wasn’t on that scale as it is now. This year UltraPlay turned its 10 years on the market, which came along with many company’s accomplishments as well as major developments of our core products – the turn-key iGaming platform for sportsbooks as well as our multiple award-winning eSports betting product.
Q: You have been with the company for a long time, what makes UltraPlay so special?
MO: As I used to say you have to understand the company’s product a hundred percent. It’s very important for every business to ensure there are enough data and information for the clients to check anything they want to know about their own projects.
Besides our cutting-edge technology products and services, it’s vital for the business to be adaptive, flexible, and eager to innovate. The first two serve our clients perfectly. Innovation on the other hand is something we do as part of our mission to lead the iGaming industry and contribute greatly to its overall development.
Q: The company has been operational since 2010 how has the business grown in the last 10 years?
MO: Even though we are most known for our eSports betting leadership globally, the sports betting platform is actually with what the business has started back in the days. Then we had a very strong disruption of the iGaming industry by launching one of the first Bitcoin casinos. Crypto wagering is something UltraPlay has been providing since 2012 and still enhances.
In 2014 we became the first company to provide live betting on eSports, with my personal involvement as a live trader of CS: GO. Over the last few years, we became a market leader for eSports particularly in Europe and Asia. Our eSports betting product ODDS.GG was awarded in 2018 as the best B2B digital product solution in Asia, and now we hold 15 awards for our overall provision in the eSports sector.
Q: What makes UltraPlay so successful?
MO: Above all, it’s the hard work and unbeatable dedication expressed on a daily basis by our team members. It’s their effort, creativity, and winning spirit that goes beyond expectations and drives the company forward.
Q: UltraPlay founder Dariy Margaritov how involved is he still with the company?
MO: The company is born by his bright vision to deliver breakthroughs to the iGaming industry. The business model to innovate has always been a central focus for him, which is well incorporated in the company’s culture as well. As there’s a saying “he feels the company” and leads it to new and exciting directions. Now, he’s an advisor to the management board, where his years of experience and knowledge of the industry guide the company in the right direction.
Q: The company is very proud of the many awards it has won over the years, do you look at that as a sign of how successful the company is?
MO: Winning an award is more than just receiving a trophy. It defines you as a leader and acknowledges your hard work, integrity, and perseverance throughout the years. It also distinguishes our brand from competitors and opens new business opportunities. The iGaming awards’ reputation gives a further statement for the company as a trusted leader on the global gaming map. It’s definitely a sign of our success that the industry sees in us.
Q: What jurisdictions does UltraPlay work in?
MO: Our products are compliant in many jurisdictions worldwide, and we can offer assistance to any other that is still not part of our portfolio and clients require.
Q: UltraPlay works in the eSports world also, how fast is that sector growing?
MO: Let’s say that eSports betting is one of the fastest-growing markets in our industry. Esports itself is growing exponentially year on year. The audience is very broad and there is a huge number of different products that are connected to the industry, like laptops or phones designed for gaming as well as consoles, and on top of that, you can bet on your favorite team or support your favorite streamer.
If eSports continues to record such steady growth, we are definitely going to see more and more operators expanding this vertical. But more importantly, they need to offer it the right way so that players are not only attracted but retained to the website.
Q: This year with COVID-19 has been a very difficult time, how has the company managed its business during 2020?
MO: Regarding your previous question, there was actually an unprecedented increase in the eSports betting turnover of our clients’ network right after the COVID-19 breakdown. Bets placed on eSports surpassed every other gambling vertical and it was logical as traditional sports events were canceled or postponed. UltraPlay reported a 500% turnover growth (from mid-March to the end of April) compared to an average yearly increase of 30% by the end of 2019. The top titles that players placed their bets on were as usual CS:GO, Dota 2, and League of Legends, where we increased the events’ coverage by 20% so that players weren’t left without diversity and excitement of their favorite games. There was also another trend that was seen – FIFA, NHL, and NBA2k recorded an increase in players’ interest. This was mainly due to the fact that sports bettors needed some time to adapt to the eSports mechanisms and turned first to the so-called sports simulating eSports.
Moreover, we shifted successfully to home office work. Each team – especially the core ones as development and trading outperformed during the lockdown, so we haven’t experienced any challenges in delivering our products and services to our clients. It was the main priority for us and we did our job well.
Q: What is the best innovation you are most proud of this year from UltraPlay?
MO: As there were no other sports left to bet on, eSports has finally got its deserved place on the global gaming map. We started offering eSports 6 years ago when it was a totally new concept to the industry. It started from our initial interest in the sector, as we are gamers by heart, and evolved to what it is now – a billion-dollar industry. So in that case, we innovate year on year by adding new game titles and make them ready for betting with pre-match and live odds. Many operators turned to us to ask for our consultancy and especially the eSports product, having in mind our long years of experience in the sector.
Q: Does the company work in the US or interested in breaking into that market?
MO: We are keeping track of the dynamic growth and developments of the whole market there. It surely interests us and we are considering it in the future.
Q: What products are the most popular with clients?
MO: It depends on their business stage or experience so far. Some of the clients come to us looking for a particular product, such as eSports, others want to change their platform provider or now start the business and choose us. We are flexible in our offering, so it is a matter of the client’s needs and requirements.
Q: Do you think expos and conferences will return and will the demand for a face to face events always be hugely important for gaming companies such as UltraPlay?
MO: Gaming events and conferences have always been at the heart of our business. It’s the type of business we are in – based on a lot of personal contact, references, and demonstrations. In that sense, events are the perfect place to meet and present our brand and key products to the industry. They offer a great platform to exchange ideas, do business, and benefit from one another.
Current times are very uncertain and we adapt to new realities of virtual events by also hoping that face-to-face events will be back earlier next year.
Q: It is a very uncertain time for everyone with the pandemic however how do you see 2021 for UltraPlay?
MO: We are fully committed to our next business steps – our constant development of the products and platform. We are adding new eSports titles to ODDS.GG, which now consists of more than 34 games offered with pre-match and live odds.
Besides our eSports product, we are adding new features and updates to our iGaming platform. Our reporting and player’s management system will be further enhanced, as well as the casino module of our platform. Online casinos are experiencing a tremendous boost especially now. Over the past few years, besides our eSports product ODDS.GG, we have put a lot of effort into expanding our casino portfolio. Offering diversified and quality casino games together with mobility and convenience to our partners are definitely among our priorities.