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There’s been a flurry of activity in recent weeks in the category of casino-style social media games, highlighted by IGT’s acquisition of Double Down Interactive and PopCap’s release of the Lucky Gem Casino.

Now, another Seattle gaming company is jumping into the virtual casino. Big Fish Games today is announcing the acquisition of Self Aware Games, the 3-year-old Oakland, California maker of the free mobile casino game Card Ace: Casino. The game is currently available on the iPhone, iPad and Android, with an HTML5 version due out later this year.

“Free-to-play games with virtual currency are growing in importance, especially for mainstream gamers,” said Big Fish founder Paul Thelen. “With the acquisition of Self Aware Games, Big Fish is going big — not only are we entering the free-to-play games market, we are entering by acquiring the number one player in mobile social in the hottest category of free-to-play — social casino games. ”

Self Aware will remain in Oakland where its 23 employees will make up Big Fish’s new San Francisco Bay Area operation.

In addition to Card Ace, Self Aware is developing a new massively multiplayer online  location-based game for the iPad called Fleck Touch. Big Fish also said today that its revenue grew by 30 percent in 2011, the ninth consecutive year of record revenue growth. (Big Fish had $140 million in revenue in 2010).


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