Big Fish makes a Big Splash

Seattle-based Big Fish Games has reeled in the biggest venture financing deal in Washington State this year and they’re expanding North with the proceeds. The online game upstart announced $83.3 million in funding from Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Salmon River Capital today. That makes it the largest venture financing deal in the Washington State this year and the biggest ever for a US online gaming company. As usual, John Cook of the Seattle Post Intelligencer ran with the story first.

Big Fish has already experienced rapid growth (revenue of $8.6 Million in 2005 versus $50 Million in 2007), so this cash injection was more of a protective measure than a necessity. Big Fish leadership stresses that it was important to get the right financial partners on board now while raising money in the capital markets was still an option.

Big Fish recently upgraded their digs in Seattle with a new 57,000-square-foot headquarters on the waterfront and are Canada-bound with a new 50 employee engineering facility in Vancouver strategically located across the street from EA’s new Yaletown space (and one floor below Techvibes). Look out for guerilla-style ‘It’s after 5pm, why are you still working?‘ recruiting signs across Mainland Street soon.

Impressive revenue growth is thanks to casual gaming trend that is sweeping the Web. Big Fish sees approximately 1 million game downloads everyday and players are prompted with an offer to purchase titles for $20 after a free hour of game play. Online conversion rates top those of other game distributors, with more than 2 percent of those who try a game making a purchase. Looks like a smart investment all around.