Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games is a Seattle-based casual gaming company. The company serves as both a developer and distributor of casual games, primarily on computers and mobile devices. The company was founded in 2002 by Paul Thelen, and currently employs more than 500 people.


Big Fish Games was founded by ex-RealNetworks executive Paul Thelen in 2002 with $10,000. Thelen was the Group Product Manager that launched the RealArcade games service for RealNetworks. In 2009, the company announced the opening of their new European headquarters in Cork, Ireland. The BBB rates Big Fish Games as an A+ due to its response and resolution to complaints, and the relative low complaint volume for a business of its size.

In September 2008, the company received $83M financial backing from Venture Capital funds Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Salmon River Capital.

In August 2013, the company announced the closing of its cloud-based games service, Vancouver studio and Cork offices.

On November 12, 2014, Big Fish Games was acquired by Churchill Downs Incorporated for $885 million. The company is primarily involved in the gambling business, and is the owner of several major horse racing tracks, including its namesake Churchill Downs.

Big Fish Studios

Big Fish Studios is the internal development studio that publishes original titles every year through Big Fish Games. Many of these games are developed using its own proprietary game engine that supports both DirectX and OpenGL.

Games developed by Big Fish Studios include:

Mystery Case Files: Huntsville (November 14, 2005)
Mystery Case Files: Prime Suspects (April 6, 2006)
Mystic Inn (April 12, 2006)
Hidden Expedition: Titanic (July 22, 2006)
Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst (December 15, 2006)
Hidden Expedition: Everest (June 1, 2007)
Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate (November 7, 2007)
Mystery in London (December 14, 2007)
Hidden Expedition: Amazon (June 20, 2008)
Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst (November 27, 2008)
Drawn: The Painted Tower (September 5, 2009)
Hidden Expedition: Devil’s Triangle (October 24, 2009)
Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove (November 25, 2009)
Life Quest (April 29, 2010)
Drawn: Dark Flight (October 2, 2010)
Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull (January 8, 2011)
Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident (June 27, 2011)
Drawn: Trail of Shadows (October 19, 2011)
Hidden Expedition – The Uncharted Islands (November 3, 2011)
Mystery Case Files: Escape from Ravenhearst (December 23, 2011)
Fairway Solitaire HD (May 24, 2012)
Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake (December 26, 2012)
Fetch (March 20, 2013)
Mystery Case Files: Fate’s Carnival (November 26, 2013)
Hidden Expedition: Smithsonian Hope Diamond (December 19, 2013)

Digital distribution

Big Fish Games distributes over 2500 casual downloadable games for over 500 developers. According to Big Fish Games, the company serves over 1,500,000 downloads per day. The service offers downloadable casual games with a try-before-you-buy model where consumers can play games for free for 60 minutes, then have the option to purchase that game to keep playing.

Online games

Big Fish Games entered the browser gaming with its acquisition of the game website Ion Thunder in 2007; the service was re-branded as Atlantis following the acquisition. The service, which was later revamped as Big Sea Games in 2009, was shut down in 2010 as part of the company’s shift from traditional online games to social games on Facebook and mobile apps.