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Big Catch: Big Fish Games Raises $83 Million Funding

imageAnd who said there was anything casual about casual games: Seattle-based casual games distributor Big Fish Games has received the biggest game-related funding in recent history. It has raised $83.3 million in a round led by Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Salmon River Capital. The money will be used for acquisitions and international expansion…The company has acquired two companies along the way, and expects a few more soon.

Paul Thelen, a former *RealNetworks* manager who built its RealArcade gaming business, started BFG in 2002. CEO Jeremy Lewis, a Goldman Sachs veteran, took over last fall when Thelen became chief strategy officer. Beyond online and downloadable games– it distributes games such as “Mystery Case Files,” “Azada” and “Hidden Expeditions”– it is expanding into Nintendo Wii console games.

This new round was a recap, and the new investors are buying out the handful of angel investors who contributed $8.7 million to help launch the company, plus new shares that are being issued, reports Seattle Times. Here’s the best part, always: it didn’t need the money, but raised it anyway. It’s profitable and had sales of about $50 million last year. Seattle PI: In 2005, the company reported revenue of $8.6 million, rising to $24.1 million in 2006 and $50.8 million last year.

This comes as BFG’s cross town rival RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) is spinning off its online gaming business and considering an IPO for it. BFG says it won’t IPO anytime soon.

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