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perblue offices (copy)

PerBlue operates from a studio on Madison's near east side.

CAPITAL NEWSPAPERS ARCHIVES

PerBlue, a Madison company that specializes in making casual smartphone-based video games, is now developing games for Disney.

Kyle Laughlin, an executive who oversees Disney’s gaming division, announced on Tuesday that it was working with Perblue and three other mobile developers on a new lineup of mobile games, according to a news report from the tech website VentureBeat. Laughlin made the announcement as the keynote speaker at Casual Connect, a mobile and casual gaming conference hosted appropriately enough at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Forrest Woolworth, the company’s chief operations officer, said in an email that he wasn’t able to disclose anything more about the partnership or the nature of the game.

“We're really excited about the project, and look forward to sharing more details when we are able to,” he wrote.

The 10-year-old PerBlue has built a reputation for making fantasy role-playing smartphone games in which players can level up bands of heroes in combat. Since launching in 2008 by a team of freshly graduated University of Wisconsin-Madison computer science students, the company has become a robust development studio. It has more than 40 employees housed at its eastside Madison headquarters, and is hiring at a rapid clip.

Its notable titles include Portal Quest, which ranks among the most popular games for Android devices, and Dragonsoul, which it sold to a Japanese company in 2016 for $35 million.

PerBlue now joins a select group of developers making games for Disney after the company closed its in-house gaming studio two years ago. Electronic Arts, a Montreal-based gaming giant, has won the exclusive rights to publish Star Wars titles. Disney is also working with the Japanese company Square Enix on “Kingdom Hearts,” a series of popular games featuring classic Disney characters.

The new Disney-PerBlue partnership comes on the heels of a major year for Madison’s gaming industry, with a both a major Korean studio and a popular board game publisher opening up shop in town.

Erik Lorenzsonn is the Capital Times' tech and culture reporter. He joined the team in 2016, after having served as an online editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and having written for publications like The Progressive Magazine and The Poughkeepsie Journal.