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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 6, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Big Fish Games buys “mobile-social casino platform”

Seattle’s Big Fish Games doesn’t want to miss the gold rush that’s expected to follow the loosening of online gambling rules.

Today the casual games giant announced that it’s buying a provider of mobile-social casino games, Oakland, Calif.-based Social Concepts.

The buy comes two months after Seattle casino game producer Double Down Interactive was sold for $500 million – including $250 million in cash, plus another $250 if revenue and retention goals are met.

Big Fish would presumably be worth much more than $500 million if it sells or goes public. The company isn’t disclosing such plans, but today’s deal could improve its positioning.

Social Concepts has a platform for mobile casino games including its hit brand “Card Ace: Casino.” It’s also developing a location-based mobile massively multiplayer online platform that’s starting with an iPad beta title called “Fleck Touch.”

In addition to the moves into growing game categories, 25-person Social Concepts gives Big Fish its first Bay Area office.

Big Fish also today announced that its sales grew 30 percent in 2011, its ninth consecutive year of record revenue. It didn’t specify the sales amount, but it had sales of more than $130 million in 2010, suggesting that its sales were around $170 million last year. (UPDATE: A spokeswoman said they were “in excess” of $180 million.)

“We grew particularly fast in mobile, where trust in our brand and our games extended very rapidly and naturally to mainstream consumers on iPhone and iPad,” Chief Executive Jeremy Lewis said in the release.

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