Often referred to as “India’s first-ever one-stop online esports platform,” Ultimate Battle has been one of the few constants in the ever-changing Indian esports landscape.
From helping the esports community host tournaments in multiple games to allowing players to engage in activities that develop their gaming skills, the platform has been praised for a lot.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, Mr. Tarun Gupta, Founder of Ultimate Battle, talks about his thoughts behind the development of the platform and what he imagines to be its future in the coming months.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. Sir, can you talk to our readers a bit about your long and illustrious journey in the field of digital marketing and how your experiences there helped you establish Ultimate Battle into what it is today?
Tarun Gupta: Brainpulse Technologies is the parent company for Ultimate Battle and has over 21 years of experience in the field of application development, digital marketing, and infrastructure management services. This experience has helped us build a gaming platform that is futuristic in its approach, adaptable, and scalable.
Our digital marketing expertise has ensured that our marketing efforts are efficient and cost-effective. We have used an array of digital marketing channels (search engine marketing, social media campaigns, influencer marketing, etc.) along with offline channels to power our marketing campaigns. Proven remarketing strategies backed by powerful analytics have also helped us optimize our marketing campaigns.
Q. The dream behind Ultimate Battle. Can you shed some light on the thought process that went behind its making and the support you received from the Indian video game community during the nascent years of the project?
Tarun Gupta: Back in 2016, esports was hitting mainstream worldwide, and India had not taken any notice of the same. Whatever little esports events that were held were mainly offline and had a very limited reach restricted to the city in which the events were hosted. The events were unorganized and had haphazard protocols that lead to huge wait time and frustration amongst gamers.
With Ultimate Battle our vision was to bring esports to the forefront, organize events and celebrate gaming in all its glory. Our online gaming format broke the geographic barriers and enabled real talent from all over the country to compete with each other irrespective of the location. Events became more organized with real-time updates and notifications to the gamers, which enhanced their overall experience. The initial response that we received from the gaming community was overwhelming.
Q. What were some of the major hurdles that you faced early on? And how successful would you say Ultimate Battle has been in terms of both viewership and community participation?
Tarun Gupta: Our initial struggles were mainly to educate or make gamers familiar with the platform. We have been evolving the platform ever since in terms of technology as well as user experience to make it as intuitive as possible. I think we have come a long way and have been successful in giving our users a great gaming experience.
Q. Ultimate Battle is not just an esports platform that helps players host tournaments. It even has a gaming news section and an E-commerce portal that caters to a variety of consumer and player demands. What inspired you to branch out into these particular sectors? Which one of these sees the most amount of daily traffic?
Tarun Gupta: At its core, Ultimate Battle’s mission is to build a platform that houses gaming communities of popular esports titles and offers organized competitive gameplay for gamers for award and recognition. Our purpose to launch parallel properties of Esports League, News, and E-commerce was to create touchpoints for gamers that address their specific needs pertaining to gaming. Not to forget, these properties also add to our overall effort of customer acquisition.
Q. What are your thoughts on the growth of esports in India? Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Tarun Gupta: Esports has seen a decent growth over a few years, and we have also seen Indian Gamers putting their footprints on the global esport scene. The current pandemic has only helped in bringing esports into focus. The overall growth of the esports industry has been phenomenal. The current stats show we have 365 million Indian gamers across mobile, PC, and console. It is projected to reach 440 million by 2022, according to industry estimates.
During the Pandemic, esports got much-needed exposure, and it seems that it is slowly heading towards the mainstream. Gaming is now being considered as a viable career option. Our platform also witnessed a great shift in gamers' engagement behavior. During the pandemic, since the gamers were restricted to their homes and had all the time we could ask for, gamer participation on the platform increased dramatically. Our analytics witnessed a dramatic spike in our monthly active users.
Q. How much do you think the PUBG Mobile ban has affected the scene?
Tarun Gupta: As a platform, our vision has never limited itself to a game. PUBG was actually similar to some other games for us, yet it is imperative to mention that it had a decent gamer community. We presently house 10 games, which we intend to grow to around 21 Games by the end of 2021.
Q. How far do you see the Indian esports scene developing in the next five years? Do you feel that PC gaming will slowly become as popular as mobile in the near future?
Tarun Gupta: There has been a major growth in esports in 2020 in terms of exposure to the general gaming audience and perception towards gaming. As we move forward, we only see the graph going up for the esports scene in India. Internet and smartphone penetration, game publishers pushing for structured esports events, and changes in gamers' perception towards esports have been the contributing factors for the development of the esports scene in India.
In the coming years, technologies like cloud gaming, 5G networks, and the arrival of more esports leagues will push the growth of the esports industry in a positive direction. Major brands and sports conglomerates are showing interest in investing in esports. We can also expect new legislation and legal framework in India to help the esports industry grow at a larger scale in the next few years.
With the launch of mobile games like PUBG: Mobile, Free Fire, and COD: Mobile, esports in India received much-needed exposure. Availability of budget phones and fast internet connections also increased the accessibility and gameplay opportunities among the masses.
As far as growth is expected, both mobile gaming and PC gaming in India will be on the rise. PC gaming has still a long way to go compared to mobile gaming.
Q. What are your plans for Ultimate Battle moving forward? In which sectors and opportunities do you see the org capitalizing on and growing?
Tarun Gupta: Our main focus has consistently been around giving the gamers the best gaming experience, which we intend to further structure for the gaming audience in the form of All India Esports League, which aims at promoting esports and providing a common stage for Indian gamers to showcase their talents. Adding gaming content production in the loop, it will give us an avenue to monetize as well as add to the platform in the gaming ecosystem.
Going further, we will also be looking toward avenues of offline events, giving us a touchpoint with gaming audiences, along with opening up multiple options for us to reach our business milestones.
Q. What can tournament hosts and participants expect from Ultimate Battle in 2021?
Tarun Gupta: The biggest highlight of the year will be the launch of the 2021 All India Esports League, which is expected to go on the floor very soon. The league will feature some of the top esports game titles along with Chess. In addition to this, we expect to add more games to the platform. We are also looking at introducing some great social networking features that will allow users to engage with the community better.
Q. Which game has seen the most amount of participation and player engagement on the Ultimate Battle platform so far?
Tarun Gupta: Participation and engagement has always been the function of the popularity of the game among the audience as well as ease of gameplay. Free Fire battle royale mode has been widely popular among the Indian audience, which also reflects in gamers' engagement on our platform. Other than this, games like COD: Mobile and Chess have also been one of the top games for the platform.
Q. Before we sign off, Sir, can you tell us a bit about how technology, both radical and incremental, will determine the growth of the Indian esports industry?
Tarun Gupta: Esports industry, from a technology standpoint, largely depends on ISP infrastructure, gaming technologies, and gaming hardware. Any incremental or even radical change will either enhance the gaming experience or create new opportunities for the industry.
For instance, better smartphones and internet penetration has led to a 2.5x growth in the number of mobile gamers in 2020 when compared to 2016. We are also seeing how new technologies like VR gaming and cloud gaming are having a huge impact in the way gaming will be perceived in the future.