Green Bay video game publisher raises $3M, led by TitletownTech | Green Bay Press-Gazette
GREEN BAY – A Green Bay-based video game publisher that wants to fund and support Midwest-based game developers raised $3 million from TitletownTech, the owner of Skee-Ball, and other Wisconsin investment funds.
Midwest Games launched earlier this year in Green Bay by Ben Kvalo, a UW-Green Bay alum, game developer and former Netflix executive. Its first game, Ra Ra Boom, is developed by Cincinnati-based Gylee Games and is expected to launch soon.
TitletownTech, the venture capital firm led by the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft, on Monday announced it had led the $3 million funding round that included investments from Green Bay angel investor Tundra Angels, Brightstar Wisconsin and Wisconsin Investment Partners. The company also drew investments from Larry Treankler, owner and CEO of Skee-Ball owner Bay Tek Entertainment in Pulaski, and Erin Ashley Simon, a video game industry veteran and part owner of the newly- launched esports organization XSET.
The company plans to use the $3 million investment announced Monday morning to add staff, support independent game developers and to publish games.
“We’re thrilled to invest in Midwest Games and believe in the substantial value it brings to the games industry, the Midwest region, and our in-residence community,” said Cordero Barkley, a partner at TitletownTech. “We recognize the transformative potential of Ben’s vision and wholeheartedly support its positive impact on the games ecosystem and beyond.”
Midwest Games enters growing video game market
If you didn’t know, video games have become a huge, global business at the intersection of culture, entertainment, technology and sports.
The global video game industry in 2020 was valued at $159.3 billion, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration. An estimated 2.7 billion people play video games worldwide and 75% of U.S. households have at least one gamer.
Video game developers publish thousands of new games each year on platforms like the Nintendo Switch and on video game sites like Steam, which is where Ra Ra Boom will be available. On Steam alone, the number of games published each year increased from 8,145 in 2018 to 10,644 in 2022.
Midwest Games wants to open that market to diverse talent and underrepresented regions
Midwest Games wants to create opportunities for talented video game developers and creators in the Midwest and other underrepresented regions.
It is led by Kvalo, a Wisconsin native who has published more than 100 game titles and 50 films. In addition to time building Netflix Games, Kvalo also worked at Blizzard Entertainment and 2K. He drew several more veterans of the video game and entertainment industries to join him at Midwest Games, including cofounder Rob Martin and chief marketing officer Jennifer Corbett, formerly of Sony, Discovery and Crunchyroll.
In a media release, Kvalo said the $3 million funding round will help the company remove barriers game developers face and tap into a diverse talent base in communities often overlooked by technology and video game companies.
“We view games as a universal language, a powerful equalizer, and through our endeavors, we are shaping a more inclusive and dynamic games ecosystem,” Kvalo said.
I develop video games. Can Midwest Games help me?
Midwest Games has set up a “developer inquiry” page for developers with video games in the mid-to-final stages of development.
The company’s website indicates its team has a variety of experience in game development and publication that spans different platforms, genres and game types.
Midwest Games can help developers with funding, marketing, public relations, community development, production, platform management, and release management.
TitletownTech has invested in at least four sports, entertainment and media businesses
The Packers and Microsoft launched TitletownTech in 2019 with five areas of focus: Health and wellness; agriculture, water and environment; manufacturing and construction; supply chain and logistics; and sports, media and entertainment.
Midwest Games is one of six sports, media and entertainment companies the $95 million venture capital firm has since invested and supported with resources. The other five companies are:
- Demiplane, a digital resource for tabletop role playing gamers.
- Slate, a content creation platform for social media sites.
- Boost, an sports app platform powered by artificial intelligence.
- StatusPRO, a virtual reality game developer.
- Overtime, a sports network that focuses on athletes’ development, education and economic empowerment.