Big Fish Games lays off 250 employees

Business News

Big Fish Games is laying off 250 employees, telling staffers in a company memo the move is being made from a position of “financial strength” and that saving money was not a primary driver behind the cuts.

The memo was signed by Big Fish co-presidents Andrew Pedersen and Jason Willig and sent to The Seattle Times by a person wishing to remain anonymous. It made no mention of a Monday court ruling granting preliminary approval to financial settlements totaling $155 million from two class-action lawsuits filed since 2015 against the company, which offers social and casual mobile gaming.

“The scale that Big Fish developed over many years as a multi-platform publisher has made it difficult to successfully lead in mobile, which requires greater agility and different operating and creative capabilities,” the memo states. “By pivoting how we operate and sharpening focus, we will gain increased flexibility to engage players more effectively today and invest more for the future.”

The majority of the layoffs will be in the Seattle area and affect more than a third of the company’s roughly 600 employees.

Founded in 2002, Big Fish, which also has an office in Oakland, California, was one of the region’s largest independent gaming companies before being sold to Churchill Downs in 2014. Churchill Downs, owner of the famed Kentucky Derby racetrack, in turn sold Big Fish for $990 million in 2017 to Australian-based Aristocrat Technologies, which operates online games and sells gaming equipment.