MADISON, Wis. - One of the world's biggest entertainment companies is expanding its reach in the gaming industry, and it is bringing a Madison-based company with it. This week, Disney announced its partnership with four companies, including Wisconsin's own PerBlue, to develop new games for smartphones.
Ten years ago, a group of University of Wisconsin graduates started the company as a way of putting their computer science degrees to use. Now, a decade later, they have been tapped for the job of a lifetime: developing games for the Walt Disney Company.
Disney announced on Tuesday that it is working with PerBlue and three other mobile developers on a new lineup of mobile games.
There is no word yet on what types of games are in development.
"It's all about focusing on that project," Chief Operating Officer Forrest Woolworth said of his company's focus on the Disney partnership. "It's certainly a high priority to make that product as successful as possible."
PerBlue has a reputation for making fantasy role-playing smartphone games and strategy games.
The Madison-based company also has a reputation of success and growth. It currently has more than 40 employees working at its eastside Madison headquarters, and it only continues to grow.
"Even though we're based in Madison and the Midwest, the number of connections to the West Coast, to San Francisco, and to other big hubs has really been increasing over the last couple of years," said Woolworth. "You can import capital. You can import people to Madison and it's not just about needing to be in San Francisco to do stuff. You can be in Madison and still maintain those connections to the West Coast and other areas."
Woolworth adds Madison's new direct flight to San Francisco will be helpful is growing PerBlue, giving the company direct access to some of the brightest minds in the tech world.
"The tech community in Madison is really emergent," said Woolworth. "It has become really established over the past five years. There's been a number of reports over the last year here that have been pointing to the tech growth momentum and Madison really emerging and becoming established as a tech hub."
PerBlue's most successful games to date include Portal Quest, which is one of the most popular games for Android devices, and DragonSoul, which it sold to a Japanese company in 2016 for $35 million.
The new Disney-PerBlue partnership comes on the heels of a very successful 2017 for Madison's gaming industry. In the past six months, both a major Korean video gaming studio and a popular board game publisher have opened up shop in town.
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