UltraPlay at ICE: Driving Esports Growth in Real-Time
As we look ahead to the upcoming ICE event, one of the main attractions is sure to be the interactive esports arena. This is a dedicated area on the show floor that will be used to demonstrate the latest tech in the sector and educate the industry on how it can be leveraged to ensure market success.
UltraPlay are the Headline sponsors this year, so we caught up with their Head of Esports, Peter Ivanov to hear more about their plans for ICE and more importantly, his views on the future growth of the sector.
UltraPlay are headline sponsors of the esports arena at ICE this year. Why is it so important for you be supporting live industry events like this?
“ICE London 2022 is the biggest event for the industry and the most anticipated show of the year. We have been at the forefront of iGaming industry for 12 years now and are striving to create value for our clients and partners every day. It is our mission to build an eSports product for everyone and we try to achieve that daily.
“We have proved ourselves to be a pioneer in eSports and are becoming more recognizable with every single year. Being a Headline sponsor at the eSports Arena gives us the possibility to achieve better visibility and to demonstrate what we do best.
“During the show our experts will present the company’s latest product developments and innovative solutions to the iGaming world. We will have a chance to meet our clients again and are looking forward for new successful partnerships.”
How important is the real-time betting experience in esports compared to traditional sports betting? Does the nature of esports’ infrastructure allow for more betting opportunities?
“The nature of eSports is unique because there is a huge potential for the games to evolve. They get updated almost every month with new additions, characters, and objectives which change the meta of the game meaning new strategies and a completely new road to success, unlike traditional sports where you hardly have major rule or game changes in decades.
“Real-time betting is more attractive for the players and there are more opportunities for development than in the pre-match part. Therefore, we have the opportunity to enrich our in-play offering further and further to help players have a better experience.
“When it comes to driving more traffic, betting markets are very important. This is a very interesting subject since traditional markets such as match winner, handicaps and totals continue to dominate the turnover chart but at the same time it is new “special objective” or ‘fast pace” markets that really engage the most dedicated fans of each game title. It is no surprise that UltraPlay’s extensive portfolio of such market offerings has been hugely popular among esports bettors and one of the main factors behind operators’ interest in our product as well.”
How do esports bettors behave differently from traditional sportsbook players? How can operators best leverage these trends going forward?
“Esport bettors have a deeper, more complex, understanding of the game they bet on compared to casual sports fans who bet on their favourite sport. That means their expectations for the product they will use are much higher. Many sportsbooks fail to meet esports fans’ expectations, not only with their coverage but also with on-site features, promotions, etc.
“There is much less supply of products made especially for eSports and our product is trying to do exactly the opposite. We are an innovator in this field and our product is truly unique but at the same time we listen to end users’ feedback and work on improving it even further. We are the first company so narrowly specialized in the development of such an eSports product with many others following shortly after. It has always been our main focus to provide what eSports fans truly deserve and that is to connect betting with their gaming experience. It has been a real challenge but that is what makes our product very special.”
UltraPlay were the first company in the world to provide online live betting services for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO). This is one of the largest gaming titles in the sector, how important is market size when attempting to provide the most attractive live prices? Do you provide the same betting opportunities for niche gaming titles?
“CS:GO is by far the most popular game title in terms of betting and it stands for 50 % of the eSports betting market.
“The main focus is on up-time or in other words how long the betting odds are open. This is very important for all bettors since they like to focus on the spur of the moment and if they cannot place their bet at that specific time it gets that sour feeling that the adrenaline is gone. When it comes to CS:GO, it has been around for 20+ years, and still today the interest in terms of pure numbers – viewers, bettors, players is growing.
“This is a phenomenon and shows why our commitment to offering first-class CS:GO betting product has been the right strategy from the beginning. At the same time, we offer more than 40 titles, but the focus and betting opportunities on some niche titles cannot match what you can expect in CS:GO for example. It all comes down to popularity and player’s demand but we constantly enrich not only our game title portfolio but also the number of markets offered in niche titles because as I previously mentioned we want to offer a product that completely understands and meets gamers’ needs and expectations.”
Stream delays and latency have been an ongoing challenge for the esports sector, in regard to data integrity and player protection. How can 3rd party solutions such as UltraPlay help to strengthen these aspects?
“Stream delays and latency are a challenge for the esports sector, indeed. The main issues are related to the user experience and the end product that bettors receive. By working closely with data providers, tournament organizers and other related parties UltraPlay is trying to work on improving the overall experience. I think we have come a long way in this area but there is still a lot to be done and improved on to reach the level of experience that sports bettor have. Having said that, this is another really important subject we are trying to work on since we know any progress made will be highly appreciated by esports bettors and will make our product even more attractive to them.”
From speaking with Peter, it’s clear that Real-Time betting goes hand in hand with esports and is a significant traffic driver. Unlike traditional sports, these esports games are constantly evolving, altering the meta. This means new strategies and completely new roads to success, unlike traditional sports where you rarely have major rule or game changes in decades. Bettors need a platform that is agile enough to keep up with these constant updates and remain relevant, keeping the player engaged and providing an authentic esports experience.
Issues with delays and latency are still an ongoing challenge for the sector and have a massive impact on the user experience. However, through closer industry stakeholder collaboration, companies like UltraPlay are making great headway in mitigating the risks they present to operators, and we’re excited to see how far they can go to improve this in the future.
If you want to know more about eSports and how 3rd party solutions like UltrPlay can help you succeed in this market, be sure to visit them at the ICE esports arena later this month.