Esports gaming fans have special demands for their news programming, so Esportz Entertainment Corp. figured a way to keep them up: start working up programs inside a giant, high-tech studio in Orange.
The news organization, which operates the Esportz Network, recently signed an agreement with Orange-based production company Pfinix LLC to launch an Orange County studio featuring special filming capabilities to create plenty of action, and content, for the younger set.
“Gamers are much more interested in seeing all kinds of things happening on the screen,” Esportz Chief Executive Mark Thimmig said of the capabilities of the new studio. “They want to see numbers dropping in and things popping up, and you can put your broadcasters directly into a game.”
Esports generally refers to competitive tournaments of video games, increasingly among professional gamers. Thimmig calls Orange County the “epicenter of esports,” and the studio agreement is the latest example of the regions’s growing importance as a gaming hub.
Gaming products maker Razer Inc. is relocating its domestic headquarters to Irvine, while the Amazon Game Studios unit of the e-commerce giant is hiring to develop its Lord of the Rings online game, with many of the jobs in Irvine.
Across town, separate but similarly named Allied Esports Entertainment Inc. is moving esports into shopping malls to increase its popularity even more. And of course, Irvine-based mainstay Blizzard Entertainment Inc., OC’s largest software maker, pushed its parent company’s fourth-quarter earnings above expectations.
Just this month, gaming personality Pokimane donated $50,000 to the University of California-Irvine for student scholarships in its esports program. It’s the first endowment in the history of UCI’s 4-year-old esports program, and it allows the merit-based Pokimane Scholarship to be awarded in perpetuity to deserving students.
There are over 400 esports related companies within a 65-mile radius of Irvine, according to Esportz’s estimates.
Esportz’s new studio can include “numbers coming in, things popping out of the floor or out of the ceiling or out of the walls, or screens showing other things in the set. It’s a really dynamic environment that allows for a tremendous amount of creativity and flexibility to share information.”
The 18,000-square-foot facility at 1645 N. Case St., includes a massive 50-by-50-by-24-foot tall cyclorama wall for shooting any type of production and project a virtual 3D set.
Thimmig said the studio, which is owned by Pfinix’s Chris Tornow, will also be installing the technology that “allows you to create those beautiful, multimillion-dollar sets.”
Esportz Network produces live and pre-recorded content, streamed through the most popular esports online channels daily, including YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, Alexa, and others.
“Just putting somebody in a more traditional setting behind a desk is not exciting enough,” Thimmg said. “It’s a bit boring for people who like a lot of action and like a lot of stuff going on.”
Production at the studio will also include news programming, and possibly reality shows or shows about rich and famous esports players, some for other media organizations.
“Fewer young people have the patience or interest in 30 minutes to 1-hour programming loaded with commercials,” Thimmig said. Esportz will be creating program content “specifically to the coveted 18 to 34 age group.”
He added: “We continue moving forward with the development of Esportz Network as a global esports producer for some of the largest media properties seeking news, insight, analysis, and authentic content.”
Thimmig declined to say how much money the studio will cost. He said only, “We’re very pleased with the financial performance of the company at this point.”
“We have over 90 reporters, photographers and videographers across the world,” according to the CEO. “We expect to grow our freelance organization to as much as 150 to 200 reporters, photographers and videographers in 2020.”
The offerings will include reports on esports betting, even though his company won’t be involved in any wagering.