The Seattle-based mobile and social game developer Big Fish has laid off 250 people just one day after courts ordered the studio to pay $155 million from multiple class-action suits. The two matters are not connected, management says.
Geekwire obtained a memo from Big Fish’s co-president Andrew Pedersen and Jason Willig, who said the cuts were part of the company’s ambition to “strengthen our business and position Big Fish for long-term success.” The executives said they are making the cuts as Big Fish enjoys a “position of financial strength,” adding that cost-cutting is “the primary driver behind the changes.”
Pedersen and Willig said in their memo to say that succeeding as a multiplatform publisher of mobile games at scale “requires greater agility and different operating and creative capabilities.”
With the job cuts, Big Fish is “pivoting how we operate and sharpening focus.” They added: “We will gain increased flexibility to engage players more effectively today and invest more for the future.”
Big Fish is said to employ around 600 people, so the job losses affect close to half of staffers. It’s not immediately clear which departments were impacted, but Geekwire said the majority of the job losses came at the company’s main headquarters in Seattle, and not the second studio in Oakland, California.
The site also reported that these substantial job losses are not related to the class-action lawsuits that Big Fish is facing regarding claims of violating Washington state laws about online gambling. As mentioned, Big Fish was recently preliminarily ordered to pay $155 million as part of the lawsuits, which remain ongoing and not yet finalized.
The lawsuits are related to the game Big Fish Casino, which is alleged to represent illegal online gambling based on Washington state’s laws.
Churchill Downs, the horseracing company that operates the Kentucky Derby, acquired Big Fish in 2014 for $885 million, before selling the studio to Australian gambling company Aristocrat in 2018. Geekwire reports that Churchill is on the hook to pay $124 million in the settlement, with Aristocrat picking up the balance of $31 million.
Big Fish Games is perhaps best known for Big Fish Casino, but the company makes numerous games across a variety of genres such as match-three, adventure, puzzle, and strategy. The company partnered with Disney for the game Toy Story Drop, a free-to-play match-three puzzle game.
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