Casual Gaming Giant Big Fish Games Lays Off Around 250 Employees

Published: September 2, 2020 10:40 AM /


The logo for Big Fish Games

Seattle-based casual gaming giant Big Fish Games has laid off around 250 of its employees. The layoffs come as part of what studio heads are labeling an "organizational restructuring" which they hope will strengthen the business.

What do these layoffs mean for Big Fish Games?

This news comes via an internal staff memo sent to Big Fish employees by co-presidents Jason Willig and Andrew Pedersen. In the memo, Big Fish says that its scale has "made it difficult to successfully lead in mobile", which the studio claims requires more agility and different operating procedures. Pedersen and Willig say that Big Fish is in a position of "financial strength" and that saving money isn't a primary driver behind the changes, even though costs will go down as a result of the restructuring.

Hidden Expedition: Dawn of Prosperity, one of Big Fish Games' titles
Big Fish Games is known for casual outings like Hidden Expedition: Dawn of Prosperity, as well as online casino titles.

The memo says Big Fish will move to a single studio model and expand its partnerships with several developers including HypGames and Proteus. Several marketing teams are being consolidated into a single group, and the studio will redirect more resources to "efforts that directly benefit players". It's Pedersen and Willig's hope that these changes will mark the beginning of "a new chapter in Big Fish's story".

What's the backdrop to these layoffs?

This is the second time in as many years that Big Fish Games has made substantial cuts. Back in September 2018, the studio cut 15% of its workforce (thanks, to focus on casino and casual gaming. Yesterday, a judge ruled that two class action settlements could go ahead against Big Fish. The settlements follow on from a 2018 decision that in-game chips in casual casino title Big Fish Casino constituted illegal gambling (merci beaucoup, Geekwire). Big Fish must pay $155 million in order to recover payments made by users of its social casino titles. These payments will be made by Big Fish's owners Aristocrat Technologies, as well as previous owner Churchill Downs, who sold Big Fish to the aforementioned Aristocrat Technolgoies in 2018 for almost $1 billion.

Despite these issues, Big Fish management insists that the current layoff strategy has nothing to do with either financial hardship or with the ongoing legal battle. Instead, the changes represent "pivoting how we operate and sharpening focus". We'll bring you more on Big Fish's situation as soon as we get it.

How do you feel about this restructuring? Are you affected by it? Let us know in the comments below!


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