Madison, Wisconsin game studio PerBlue has been developing location-based mobile titles since its founders were still attending the University of Wisconsin in 2008. The studio’s first title, Parallel Kingdoms, is still running today with over 1 million registered accounts. With its latest release the company is looking to expand its genre of location-based mobile gaming to a world overrun by zombies.
The company was founded by fellow classmates Justin Beck and Andrew Hanson, who began toying with game development during homework breaks. The founders had four goals when beginning to develop the company’s first title, Parallel Kingdoms.
“It had to be played on phones, it had to be fun, it had to make money, and — just for kicks — it would use the phone’s GPS,” they said.
Parallel Kingdoms was one of the original location-based games to hit the mobile market, allowing players to play the game with other people in their area using a Google Maps overlay of their city. As one of the original developers of location-based mobile games, PerBlue has been able to pull ahead of its competitors with each successive title. Earlier this year the company released a gangster themed mobile game called Parallel Mafia, followed this week by the strategic location-based survival title Parallel Zombies.
“Being at the forefront of the space has allowed us to make a few mistakes and pivot around pain points far ahead of our competition,” wrote Ellie Humphries, communications director at PerBlue. “Another differentiation is the depth of our games, compared to other mobile games. We strive to have really interesting and engaging games, which means continually adding content and new storylines.”
PerBlue’s games work on the freemium model, where access comes at no cost, but upgrades and special items can be acquired more quickly through purchasing in-game currency. According to the company, on average paying customers spend nearly $100 per user lifetime.
The Madison startup was initially funded by friends and family, and in 2010, sought out a series A round of funding pulling in $800,000 in investments. The company’s philosophy from the beginning has been “Build to sell, design to keep.” Beck and Hanson aimed to create a company that will continue to be viable to the portfolio of other businesses, while at the same time focusing on refining the company within by developing a strong culture and work ethic. You can read more about the PerBlue’s core philosophy from Beck himself in last year’s CEO Sunday article.
Parallel Zombies is scheduled to launch this week, allowing players to band together with other survivors in their city for some strategic, cooperative zombie slaying action. With its latest title the company has decided to develop exclusively for the Android platform, at least initially, in order to focus the team. PerBlue said, however, that gamers shouldn’t rule out an iOS version shambling onto their iPhones sometime in the future.