Casual Disconnect: Seattle losing big games conference

Casual games are almost as much a part of Seattle’s fabric as coffee and airplanes. But now, it appears one of the bedrock institutions of the industry is pulling up roots like a sunflower fleeing an approaching zombie.

Sources tell GeekWire that the big Casual Connect gaming conference will no longer be held in Seattle.

“It feels like when the Sonics left Seattle,” said GameHouse president Matt Hulett. He was recently notified through his company’s event planners that Casual Connect was leaving town.

“Seattle is the birthplace of casual games — and since I am represent(ing) the brand that helped to launch the industry, I am deeply saddened to see the conference go,” said Hulett. “The good news is that casual games as an industry have exploded into being one of the largest entertainment genres on the planet thanks to smartphones, tablets, and Facebook.”

Multiple sources say they’ve been told that the event is moving to San Francisco. The conference has been held each summer in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. The group’s site lists next year’s USA conference dates as July 30 to Aug. 1, but it does not list a specific location.

The reasons for the move aren’t clear. Representatives of Casual Connect did not respond to GeekWire’s requests for comment, but we’ll update this post as we learn more.

Meanwhile, Seattle area gaming geeks can still get their fix at the Penny Arcade Expo. PAX, as it’s known, routinely draws tens of thousands of people each summer to the Washington State Convention Center.

  • http://twitter.com/toddhooper Todd Hooper

    I was told they are leaving because they cannot fit into Benaroya Hall anymore, and there are no other venues available. The convention centre is booked out for years.

    PAX is great of course, but Casual Connect is an industry conference, not a gamer conference per se, and losing it from Seattle is a blow.

    • johnhcook

      Interesting. And good point on the differences between Casual Connect and PAX. It is a real shame they are hitting the road. We always enjoyed covering the conference.

    • http://twitter.com/vzh Virl Hill

      Meydenbauer? Has 1000 more seats than Benaroya. Alternatively, I guess we could start a campaign to get some hedge fund guy in San Francisco to buy a bunch of land in SODO and build a new convention center….

      • http://twitter.com/toddhooper Todd Hooper

        LOGIN used to be at Meydenbauer before they moved to SF this year as well. I don’t think CC would fit there if they want to grow.

  • Pam Miller

    A good friend of mine is one of Seattle’s premiere hotel booking/event managers–and last year he told me this show was moving out of Seattle–I’d heard last year they were relocating out of Seattle, so the move is unsurprising. I asked why not Meydenbauer, and the answer I received is that there aren’t enough hotels nearby willing to work with booking managers for out-of-town guests to obtain good rates to make it worthwhile for guests. Therefore, the Seattle/Eastside area no longer worked for the Casual Connect organizers.