Former WME | IMG trio launch Foundry IV, an ‘esports first’ game studio

Former WME | IMG Global Head of Esports Tobias Sherman has launched Foundry IV with co-founders Simon Abitbol and Lilia Russo

The trio, who were all part of the same WME | IMG team, left the company back in July. Having secured funding with MGM Resorts International as a key investor and put together an advisory board including Brian Witten (Hollywood producer), Chris Nunez (tattoo artist, TV personality and entrepreneur), and Tom Hayes, SVP & Head of New Media at Paramount Pictures, Foundry IV is being announced as the first “esports specific” game development studio and media company.

Sherman, who has taken up the role of CEO at Foundry IV, said: “We at Foundry IV are creating competitive titles from the ground up with esports being the primary focus in every aspect. Historically, for publishers, esports has been used as a marketing tool, always secondary to traditional game development.

“Another key differentiator is that franchise owners will gain an equity stake in every game we develop and all revenue streams associated, whether it’s sales on PC, sponsor partnerships, media, or the league itself. This is a true collective effort that provides owners the value they deserve, players gameplay they’ll love, and fans an exceptional viewing experience.”

Simon Abitbol, CTO of Foundry IV, noted: “We are creating a game with esports being prioritized at the earliest DNA decisions, all while treating the community as a partner. Several publishers asked us to design an esports title for them, however, we decided that in the best interest of the industry, it was wise to protect our IP to ensure we could execute on our vision, the right way. That does not rule out working with a publisher though, it’s just that there is no value in being beholden to one.”

“Many traditional sports team owners purchased esports franchises and are now asking themselves, what did I actually purchase and how do I capitalise?” said Lilia Russo, Co-Founder of Foundry IV. “We help better define value and truly support traditional sports team ownership and investors as they become acclimated in an industry that is new to most of them.”

In order to stand out from the crowd Foundry IV intends to live by the following rules. It’ll allow professional sports organisations and investors to own not just the league franchise slots, but also the game and intellectual property. It will create an “esports first” game from the outset, ‘with input from existing pro-gamers, journalists, and industry professionals’. Finally it’ll give access to fans far earlier than traditional publishers which’ll ensure that the community can play a critical role in the game’s development.

Rick Arpin, Senior Vice President of Entertainment for MGM Resorts International, one of the company’s main investors to date, stated: “As a leader in the entertainment industry, we are focused on the continued evolution of esports and its importance as a strategic initiative for our company.  We already have hosted some of the largest esports events in our arena venues and are prepared to open the Esports Arena at Luxor in 2018 with our partners at Allied Esports.  Through our partnership with Foundry IV, we will develop additional esports ventures that solidify our position in the esports community.”

Esports Insider says: An esports first game development studio is an ambitious project but with some serious funding behind it, and the likes of Sherman leading the way as CEO it is well-placed to succeed. Of course this will be a timely process but they seem to have the right idea; especially with giving potential fans earlier access to ensure they play a substantial role in the development stage.