Big Fish Games

Not to be confused with Big Finish Games.
Big Fish Games, Inc.
Industry Video game
Computer software
Founded Seattle (2002)
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, United States
Key people
Paul Thelen, Chairman/CEO
Products Video games (Casual games)
Number of employees
700 (2013)
Parent Churchill Downs Incorporated

Big Fish Games is a casual gaming company based in Seattle, Washington, United States. It serves as both a developer and distributor of casual games, primarily on computers and mobile devices. It was founded in 2002 by Paul Thelen,[1] and currently employs more than 500 people.[2]


The company was founded by ex-RealNetworks executive Paul Thelen in 2002 with $10,000.[3] Thelen was the Group Product Manager that launched the RealArcade games service for RealNetworks.[4] In 2009, it announced the opening of their new European headquarters in Cork, Ireland. The BBB rates it "no rating" due to being "in the process of responding to previously closed complaints."[5]

In September 2008, the company received $83M financial backing from Venture Capital funds Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Salmon River Capital. [6]

In August 2013, the company announced the closing of its cloud-based games service, Vancouver studio and Cork offices.[7]

On November 12, 2014, the company was acquired by Churchill Downs Incorporated for $885 million. It is primarily involved in the gambling business, and is the owner of several major horse racing tracks, including its namesake Churchill Downs.[8]

Big Fish Studios

Big Fish Studios is the internal development studio that publishes original titles every year through Big Fish Games. Many of these games are developed using its own proprietary game engine that supports both DirectX and OpenGL.[9][10]

Games developed by Big Fish Studios include:

Digital distribution

The company distributes over 2500 casual downloadable games for over 500 developers.[11] According to Big Fish Games, they serve over 1,500,000 downloads per day.[12] The service offers downloadable casual games with a try-before-you-buy model where consumers can play games for free for 60 minutes, then have the option to purchase that game to keep playing.

Online games

The company entered the browser gaming with its acquisition of the game website Ion Thunder in 2007; the service was re-branded as Atlantis following the acquisition.[13] The service, which was later revamped as Big Sea Games in 2009, was shut down in 2010 as part of the company's shift from traditional online games to social games on Facebook and mobile apps.[14]


  1. "Company History". Big Fish Games. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  2. "Executive Team". Big Fish Games. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  3. "Paul Thelen". Big Fish Games. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  4. Reese, Heather (September 11, 2005). "Thelen Worked Through Illness to Launch Big Fish". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  5. "Big Fish Games Inc". BBB. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  7. Cook, John (August 21, 2013). "Full memo: Big Fish CEO announces job cuts, cancellation of cloud games business and closure of Ireland and BC facilities". GeekWire. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  8. "Seattle casual game-maker Big Fish Games acquired in $885 million deal". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  9. "Chris Campbell, Brian Thompson, Peter Yiap". Adventure Classic Gaming. January 23, 2010. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  10. "Big Fish Games presents the Big Fish Games collection". Big Fish Games. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  11. Takahashi, Dean (January 12, 2010). "Big Fish Games and PlayFirst team up for online game distribution". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  12. "People and Big Fish Games Launch Exclusive Partnership". July 30, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  13. "Big Fish Games Acquires Leading Multi-player Casual Game Site, Ion Thunder". Press release. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  14. "Big Sea Games fans swim to other ponds". Gamezebo. Retrieved 8 December 2014.

External links

Coordinates: 47°37′15″N 122°21′43″W / 47.620941°N 122.361906°W / 47.620941; -122.361906

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