Game on | insightonbusiness.com
On May 12, 2023, Ben Kvalo left his high-profile job as the lead project manager of Netflix’s gaming division to bootstrap his own Green Bay-based video game publishing company focused on underrepresented regions.
With two-thirds of the U.S. gaming industry concentrated in just three states, this was a bold move fueled by Kvalo’s unrelenting belief in Wisconsin — and the broader Midwest — as an emerging tech and games hub.
“This region is so overlooked and underserved, but it can be done here. There’s no reason it can’t,” says Kvalo, a Wisconsin native, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay alum and cheese curd enthusiast. “The next great game could come from Wisconsin, but we have to believe in it and we have to invest in it.”
Over the course of his career, Kvalo has helped build two of the world’s largest game publishers from the ground up, published more than 100 game titles and more than 50 films, and even led BlizzCon Esports, an annual gaming convention that draws upwards of 40,000 in-person attendees and around 20 million livestream viewers.
Kvalo says these types of opportunities don’t have to be limited to the coasts. Wisconsin is primed for a robust video game economy and his company, Midwest Games, plans to help build it.
“I’ve seen it in California; I’ve seen success. I’ve seen the growth,” he says. “And nothing is preventing it from happening here. In fact, I think there are some factors in play in Wisconsin and the Midwest that are going to help us have greater success — we just have to change our perception of where things are and where cool things can come from.”
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