Hi-Rez is the only eSport company in the state of Georgia, so it makes sense that they're the only game company with their own eSport studio. Up until someone informs me otherwise, I think they're pretty much the only one with a studio going in the entire southeast America and possibly a much larger spread (up until you hit the west coast).
I got a chance to tour the studio and it's something that I think is a boon not only for the state of Georgia but the industry itself. There are a few other studios like it, but this one is for SMITE and just SMITE. It's broken down into four separate sections. The first is the main stage, with the same setup that the world finals had.
In the main stage is the audience viewing area, which for this event many of the pros waiting and staff sat to watch the main event. The televisions for the streaming are specifically located behind a curtain, so that the pros can't look up and see them. The televisions broadcast the same thing as the stream. I believe they also have a short time delay, just to be extra safe.
In the center is the Red Bull area, with one of the Red Bull tables and some cameras for one on one interviews and the such. It's located behind the main seating area. Beyond that is the casters desk, similar to the one that was at the SMITE World Championships. The casters huddle beside various laptops running a display while the stream is going and then straighten up when the cameras go to them for the post-game summary.
In the back is a huge lounge style area where food is served to the players and they have an area to specifically relax. Throughout the space that the setup is in is couches to relax, a kitchen area for snacking and coffee, and from my understanding there is a practice area somewhere (I wasn't able to see it).
In all, the entire setup is rather professional and this isn't even its final form. Work continues on turning the office space area into an even more classy broadcast center, including modifying the roof and making it way cooler. That's in the future though.
I think that broadcast areas like these are really awesome for promoting the game and should provide SMITE players with regular professional content and tournaments. The big question I have is will Hi-Rez be able to flesh the spot out enough to have regular audience members there, as the space, while large, isn't specifically large enough to hold more than 80 people I would assume.
One interesting thing that I constantly think about is that I wonder if spaces like these will become more prominent throughout America, if not even open? YouTube has a space already where specific YouTube users (with more than 10,000 subscribers and no policy violations) can use a specific space to record video and attend classes. Those with 100,000 subscribers or more can utilize the space even further, setting up a residency and have greater control of what they can use in the space.
The space offers recording and editing facilities, with various stages to record in, and tons of tools to help make videos even cooler. I wonder if eSports or video streaming will start to branch into such spaces? Imagine if you could rent the space from Hi-Rez or even just borrow it to host your own specific tournament, that would be neat indeed (no plans for such a thing exist, just wishful thinking).
All in all, I think the space is awesome, and SMITE fans should look forward to higher production values and much more frequent tournament finals happening thanks to the new space. You can see the space and the finals on VOD @ SMITE's twitch channel.
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