A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: Big Fish Games.
What: Big Fish Games, based in Seattle.
Who: Paul Thelen, chief executive. He helped launch RealNetworks’ online game-distribution platform before leaving in 2002.
What it does: Develops and distributes online games. Players get about an hour to try out a game, then must purchase it to continue playing.
Employees: 37 full time and four contractors, up from about nine in December.
A big move: To the top floor of Fisher Plaza next month. Big Fish Games is now spread out over six offices at Lake Union.
Increasing downloads: Thelen said Big Fish has been profitable from the start. Its games are downloaded about 170,000 times a day.
Angel funding: Thelen said the company recently closed a $1.7 million round of angel funding — its first external round — which helped pay for its April acquisition of New Jersey games site, IonThunder.com.
An older audience: The audience for these casual online games is 65 percent to 75 percent female, Thelen said, and most are over age 35. The games are complex and involved, but not stressful, he said.
European expansion: The company is opening sites in Europe, starting with the July debut of a German portal. Look for Big Fish to roll out sites in French and Spanish this summer.
A new price: Most games can be purchased for a one-time $20 fee. But a new game developed at Big Fish called “Mahjong Towers Eternity” is selling for $30 and is one of the most popular on the site, at www.bigfishgames.com. Big Fish has two teams working on games and produces its own title about every four months. It also distributes games developed by other studios.
Quote: “One of the things about these games is that they’re incredibly time-consuming,” Thelen said. “As you get people who grew up with the Internet entering retirement age, that’s just going to grow the market.”
— Kim Peterson