Building a Gaming Industry Ecosystem in the Madison Region
Between 2010 and 2020, the Madison Region has seen a 76.4% increase in Computer Systems Design and Related Services (NAICS 54151) jobs, a category that includes video game development. That number is even more startling when compared against a 50% increase throughout the United States. (Emsi)
Wisconsin has a relatively low cost of doing business when compared to other states currently dominating the game development landscape. Business owners looking to relocate or establish new or satellite offices find Wisconsin to be an affordable option. The low cost of living/doing business, access to talent, the existing industry network and the high quality of life come together to make Wisconsin a viable option.
Our Region’s booming game development industry was recently highlighted in an article by the Wisconsin State Journal. Several major studios either started or recently located locations here because of the quality of our talent. The article called out major game title franchises with connections to Madison, including Call of Duty, Disney Heroes, Star Wars, Fallout, Elder Scrolls and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Just last month PUBG Mobile, which has offices in Madison, made international headlines when they announced one billion downloads worldwide.
Also mentioned in the State Journal article was the Wisconsin Games Alliance, a statewide center of excellence developed by MadREP. Today, the network of participants represents game studios, independent developers, faculty, investors, and economic development organizations with the shared mission of promoting Wisconsin as a premier site for game development and design.
“One of the main goals of developing WGA is to put the Madison Region on the map as a premier hub for game development,” said Craig Kettleson, MadREP’s enterprise development director. “The gaming industry is a substantial part of the Information Communications Technology industry here and we can only benefit from cultivating it. I hope we’ll be able to do the same with eSports in the coming years.”
Electronic sports, or eSports, are video gaming competitions with celebrity players, endorsement deals and a global audience. According to Business Insider, “most projections put the esports ecosystem on track to surpass $1 billion in revenue for the first time this year.”
So what does this mean for the Madison Region? Our collegiate programs are already gaining traction. A Madison College freshman recently won a national eSports championship. Edgewood College recently added an eSports program. UW Madison also boasts an eSports club. From a destination and event attraction standpoint, hosting a major eSports competition could add another IRONMAN-level event to the area and substantial cash infusion into the Madison Region hospitality industry.