Casual Connect 2012: CEO Paul Thelen launches Big Fish Unlimited, streaming casual game service for PC, mobiles and Roku TV

#casualconnect The casual future is in the cloud

Casual Connect 2012: CEO Paul Thelen launches Big Fish Unlimited, streaming casual game service for PC, mobiles and Roku TV
 Kicking off the 21st Casual Connect conference - the seventh in Seattle - CEO and co-founder of Big Fish Games Paul Thelen set the scene

"Games used to be simple, back in the days when retail games ruled," he said. "There were limited business decisions to worry about."

This situation has moved from basic 2x2 grid to mindblowing complexity in terms of OSes, devices, business models and play design, but this means there's unlimited opportunity.

"But you can't do every thing. You need a singular focus based on ROI," Thelen argued.

"You have to think about how you build the value of your IP over time, not diminish it down to 99c."

On the move

But while Big Fish is moving into mobile, Thelen said that its PC/Mac premium casual business remains very strong.

Indeed, it grew 30 percent in 2011, to a $180 million business.

Yet Thelen said that the company had gone all-in with mobile when iPad became mass market.

"We focus on a per title ROI and have a high velocity of releases," he explained.

"We are #5 largest publisher on iPad. A small company in the Bay Area called Zynga is #6."

Thelen also took a sideswipe at EA and Russian casual publisher G5 Entertainment, which is a direct competitor with Big Fish Games in terms of hidden object games (although G5 is more Android-focused).

Going unlimited

Although Thelen confessed that personally he didn't fully understand free-to-play games, Big Fish is also moving into this area.

The balance between mobile and PC/Mac will be driving Big Fish's future, with both elements of the business growing fast.

And to makes the connection between these platforms seamless, Thelen announced Big Fish Unlimited, its cloud-based video streaming games service.

Like OnLive and Gaikai, the games run on servers with the video stream being sent to devices via HTML5 browser.

Big Fish will be bringing hundreds of games to the service, which will work over PC/Mac and mobiles and tablets, and smart TV. The game state is saved on the server so you can drop off and pick up on whatever device you have to hand.

"You can get the rich graphics and experience from big 2GB games in seconds," Thelen said.

Developers don't need to change any code to get their games running on Big Fish Unlimited.

The service will launch today in two flavours; $7.99 monthly subscription for 100 games running full screen with no ads or free with ads for 20 games on rotation and not running full screen.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.