Big Fish Games plans to close its cloud game-streaming initiative and lay off 49 employees in Seattle, as well as close offices in Vancouver, B.C., and Cork, Ireland. Big Fish had 524 full-time employees in Seattle earlier this month, so the layoffs there represent about 9 percent of its workforce. The business, meanwhile, grew 30 percent last year, with sales of more than $180 million. Company Founder Paul Thelen, who returned as Chief Executive last year, announced the cuts in a memo to employees on Wednesday:
We had to make some very hard choices about these business areas that are not growing or profitable. I want to stress that our decisions are not based on our company-wide performance or that of the people working on those initiatives – both of which are strong – but because of where the market is growing, and quite frankly, where it is not.
Thelen stressed that the company remains profitable overall, but that the cloud unit has struggled to attract enough users to make it a viable operation. Big Fish launched its streaming cloud unit with much fanfare last summer. “This decision reflects the reality that the costs to support streaming cloud delivery of premium games are too high, and the user adoption too low, for us to warrant continued investment,” he wrote. Six employees in the Vancouver office will be offered the option to work from Seattle, the company’s headquarters where it focuses on premium and free-to-play games. The Ireland office, which serves as the company’s European headquarters, has 89 employees and is currently in the process of a “30-day consultation” with its workers to determine their fate after that facility is closed. Big Fish also employs 51 in Oakland, Calif., reports GeekWire, and that office will continue to operate its free-to-play casino game production. In the memo, Thelen said more than 70 employees would be refocused on areas of the business that are growing and scaling – primarily its free-to-play offerings, both casual and casino – and its premium games, specifically focusing on four languages: English, French, German and Japanese. In addition, Chief Operating Officer John Holland is taking over as President for Dave Stephenson, who held that post since December, but who is returning to Amazon.com.