Bigfish Games
06 March 2012
Vator News

Big Fish Games buys Self Aware Games for casino games

Along the way to its IPO, Big Fish Games is swallowing a number of little fish along the way. And, who better to acquire than a company positioned to take advantage of the boom in casino-styled games on social networks.

Big Fish Games, a developer and publisher of casual downloadable games founded in 2002, announced Tuesday that it's acquired mobile social game developer Self Aware Games and its parent company, Social Concepts, which makes Card Ace: Casino, which is currently available on iPhone, iPad and Android. The financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition gives Big Fish Games a team of experienced developers (there are 25 employees in Oakland working for Self Aware Games) in developing mobile social games and casino games, one of the hottest categories over the last six months. Big Fish Games plans to introduce the popular Card Ace: Casino game, which has been the No. 1 grossing app on the iPhone, to the Facebook audience, apparently the world's most popular place for casino-styled games.

Indeed, every company seems to be targeting the Facebook community to launch their own casino-styled game. Just last week, Crowpark launched a couple games on Facebook to take advantage of the demand for such games.  It's estimated that worldwide sales for social network games was $4.94 billion last year and will be $6.2 billion this year, according to Casual Games Association.

The growth rate for casino-styled games is growing 170% in monthly active users year over year.  A couple weeks ago, Electronic Arts' PopCap Games pushed out Lucky Gem Casino on Facebook to take advantage of the demand for casino-styled games on the social network. In January, IGT paid $500 million for Double Down, which was estimated to be generating $50 million a year in revenue.

The opportunity is hard to pass up for a company like Big Fish Games, which is already a leader in the gaming industry in many respects. In fact, at the company's revenue, it is already a contender to go public. In 2011, it generated $180 million in revenue, up from $140 million in revenue in 2010, and under $10 million back in 2005.

Big Fish Games distributes more than two million games per day worldwide. Most of its sales are from downloads to a PC or mobile device, with about 75 percent of customers being women over the age of 30, according to Paul Thelen, founder and Chief Strategy Officer, in a Bloomberg interview last November.

In 2008, Big Fish Games raised $83 million in its first round of financing since being founded in 2002, from Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Salmon River Capital.  Self Aware raised $800,000 in a seed-round of financing from Bill  Lee, Elon Musk and Jeff Skoll.



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