By Pavo Jurkic | Esports Talk
Last week, we’ve talked about the massive Kinguin x Ultimate Gamer partnership; a lucrative multi-year deal between two esports/gaming giants that could in many ways shape the future of both industries. Today, we have a special treat for you – an interview with the CEO of Ultimate Gamer, Mr. Steve Suarez, one of the minds behind this partnership.Before we start the interview, I’d like to thank Steve for his time. He went out of his way to deliver an exceptional set of answers that showcase what he and his company are all about. It’s pure esports passion we’re talking about here – pure passion!
Steve Suarez Interview
First things first – have you been a passionate gamer for all your life or is it something you’ve “caught” just recently?
I played casually myself a lot when I was younger, but right now, I’m currently hooked on playing Fortnite with my young sons every evening. It’s one of the greatest ways I’ve found to connect with them and they all think it’s pretty cool that I’m the CEO of a gaming-focused company. These moments always remind me that gaming is the one thing that can unite people of all ages, backgrounds, and geographic locations.
How did you come up with the idea of creating the Ultimate Gamer?
As I watched my children fall in love with Fortnite, I began to notice a big gap in the market when it came to having a central environment to bring gamers from all around the world and from all skill levels together as one community. In the fitness world, competitions exist to find the fittest athletes on the planet, but in the gaming world, no such competition exists. I’ve been big into sports but around 2018 is when I became more interested in the gaming space. Fortunately, my past work experience consisted of creating unforgettable and incredible experiences for unique audiences. From ideating and executing the fitness festival Wodapalooza to launching BlackStage Productions, which specializes in all aspects of event ideation with a client roster that includes the Super Bowl LIV and Formula 1 Racing, I knew I could transfer my audience-driven experience and wisdom to the gaming space. Ultimate Gamer, the first and only multi-genre esports and gaming proving ground was essentially born from this revelation. Now, we are on a mission to give the 99% of gamers who are normally not supported a place to come play, hone their skills, and win big on an even playing field across all game titles.
Are you satisfied with the growth of your business? Do you have clear goals and milestones set up for the foreseeable future?
I am so excited and humbled by the overwhelming acceptance and interest in our unique proposal to the community. We have grown exponentially since we launched and now have over 2 million registered Ultimate Gamers. We have built one of the world’s largest and most inclusive gaming communities, completely agnostic of whether you play on PC, console, or mobile, or whether you like sports, MOBA, Battle Royale, Fighting, or FPS games. In the end, we will be crowning the Best Gamer on Earth every year. This is revolutionary in the space and gamers from all around the world are flocking to join the Ultimate Gamer community and take part in the action.
What are you hoping to achieve with the Kinguin partnership?
With Kinguin, we want to be partners for the long haul. We have mutual goals of strengthening our community ties with gamers and plan to tap into Kinguin’s European roots to establish a presence there while supporting Kinguin in their efforts to establish a stronger presence in North America. We have a lot of planned activations, content, and challenges in the pipeline to bring our partnership with Kinguin to life over the next years.
How important is the “Best Gamer on Earth” title to you and do you have any plan on developing it even further in years to come?
Being able to crown the “Best Gamer on Earth” is such a unique and exciting experience for the entire team at Ultimate Gamer — not to mention the bragging rights it will give to the gamer who actually wins the coveted title. The best League of Legends player would not be able to be crowned the Ultimate Gamer because he is too focused on one genre. The Ultimate Gamer will have to be well versed across multiple genres and titles, which is rare in the esports world. We have our sights set on building the biggest and most inclusive gaming community in the world and we have an audacious target to have 5 million gamers on the Ultimate Gamer platform by the end of 2021. At the core of Ultimate Gamer is our drive to be a positive influence in the community. We live this out by bringing more people together to celebrate gaming through this massive competition, creating content that highlights the personal stories of the everyday gamer, and partnering with non-profit organizations to support the military and adaptive gamers.
What are your thoughts on the esports industry during the pandemic? Are you satisfied with how developers and third-party event organizers worked together to transition scheduled LAN events to online environments?
While traditional sports and entertainment events were canceled or postponed, video game usage and streaming skyrocketed, filling the void left by canceled live events. Gaming and esports really provided an avenue for home-bound people to carry out some form of normal life with weddings happening on Animal Crossing and graduations occurring on Minecraft. Esports is borderless and its home is online which is the safest place to be right now. I believe 2020 will be remembered as a transformational year for esports as the entire competitive industry pivoted from in-person events to online environments. The digital and borderless nature of esports not only helped the industry to thrive during the pandemic, but it enabled organizations in the industry to continue to bring fans what they craved most– community and entertainment.
Do you have any esports academy plans with Ultimate Gamer? What are your thoughts on the rise of academy level esports?
We have seen the pro world getting structured, but the mass market of esports which consists of amateur players does not have the same level of structure. I do believe in order to raise the next generation of esports players and fans, esports will need to grow at the grassroots level. Academy-level esports provides a way for players to take their passion to a more legit profession. We don’t have any immediate plans for an esports academy, but it’s definitely an idea that’s been tossed around among the team.
Once again, I’d like to thank Mr. Suarez for such an amazing and well-written set of answers! His passion for all things gaming really does show, which is why I hope he’ll manage to keep the momentum going and continue being the positive influence the gaming world needs!