Another Horse Has Joined the Video Game Race

| 14 Nov 2014 10:48
Churchill Downs

It apparently was a one-horse race in the end, but Churchill Downs has added Big Fish Games to its stable of companies with an $885 million dollar purse ... er, deal.

It was a longshot to happen, but it appears that Churchill Downs had the inside track all along. The parent company of the famous horse-racing track in Kentucky has acquired Big Fish Games, a Seattle-based casual games company known for PC and mobile freemium titles.

The payout is a big win for Big Fish, which gets $485 million up front, and another $350 million if earnings are good in 2016. CEO and founder Paul Thelen also has a stake in a continued strong finish, as he is eligible for $50 million if Big Fish does well in 2016.

"The acquisition of Big Fish and our entry into the rapidly growing mobile and online games industry give us new products, new customers, new geographies and new sizable growth opportunities," said Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs chief executive, in a press release.

Apparently, Churchill Downs is trying to jockey for position in the huge online and mobile games market. The company already has five race tracks, six casinos and a online betting company in its stable. But this is its first foray into video games. According to its website Churchill Downs is trying to "broaden its focus and hedge its investment in its traditional domain of horse racing."

Big Fish will retain all of its 500-plus employees in the move. It was incredibly successful in the iOS market in 2013, generating more than $266 million in sales from Apple alone.

"We believe Big Fish is now positioned to become an even greater force in the casual, mid-core and social casino mobile and online games industry," Thelen said in the press release. "Churchill Downs is a great cultural fit for us and we are thrilled to be joining the Churchill Downs family."

We put the odds of Thelen taking home the big purse in 2016 at about 5-1, based on his previous track record. Hopefully, he will finish strong and it won't come down to the wire (sorry ...)

Source: Seattle Times

Comments on