Jawfish Games Hits The Skids

Poker pro Phil Gordon’s venture into social gaming fails

The publication Gamasutra reports that Seattle-based online and mobile social game developer Jawfish Games is closing down, laying off all staff and selling off company intellectual property, including the rights to the company’s real-time multiplayer online tournament hosting platform Jawfish Focus as well as games like Jawfish Words and Jawfish Poker.

Founded by American professional poker player Phil Gordon and staffed at one point by industry veterans like Tadhg Kelly, Jawfish is noteworthy for attempting to build a sustainable platform for competitive, freemium multiplayer games that could be played in real time across iOS, Android and browsers.

Gordon posted a message on a closed Google Group this week announcing the company’s closure and blaming a failed acquisition deal for the misfortune.

"We'd spent all our remaining runway on legal [expenses] to get to a definitive agreement. No further acquisitions were on the table, and no financing was available," Gordon allegedly disclosed, adding:

"[The potential] Acquirer then knew we were broke and couldn't afford to sue, so they refused to pay the break fee. Classy. Three days away from being the hero and turning a business plan on the back of a napkin into $20m in 20 months, now I'm the goat that ran an award-winning startup into the ground and lost everyone's money. That's the way the world works, I suppose."

Gordon confirmed to Gamasutra that Jawfish Games is shutting down due to a lack of financing.

"The gaming landscape in mobile has changed dramatically in the two years since the formation of the company," Gordon said.

"User acquisition prices have risen by 388 percent, while revenue/player has increased by only 38 percent in the same time period. That headwind is seriously powerful and dangerous."

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