What: mPlay Who: Ed Ventura, 50, partner. Mission: Help game developers expand revenues through licensing and merchandising.

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What: mPlay

Who: Ed Ventura, 50, partner.

Mission: Help game developers expand revenues through licensing and merchandising.

Employees: 2

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Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Financials: The privately held company’s revenue is confidential.

Microsoft roots: Ventura and his partner, Sandy Ting, are veterans of Microsoft’s Game Studios. Ventura spent the last five of his 14 years with Microsoft running a group focused on franchise development. “We took the game and intellectual property and did things outside of making games,” said Ventura. “We took ‘Halo’ and put it into toys and apparel. We’ve done graphic novels, strategy guides.”

Extending the model: Ventura noticed the similarity between digital games and movies. But he also noticed the industries that create games and movies are structured differently. “Movie studios actually have a licensing and merchandising department to build merchandising around their movie franchise. Game studios don’t do that,” Ventura said. He and Ting formed mPlay in May 2009.

Specialized knowledge: “The toy industry is very different from the print industry, which is very different from the apparel industry, which is very different from TV,” said Ventura. “If you don’t have the connections and some kind of expertise … you are really kind of wading your way through darkness.”

Virtual team: Ventura says the economy has been challenging, with game developers just focusing on their core business. “They’re having a little bit of trouble just trying to get their own job done vs. looking at additional opportunities outside of what they do,” he said. That’s where mPlay comes in, he said, “as a virtual team to help them do this without them having to absorb that expense.”

— Patrick Marshall