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(Casual Connect Photo)

The prodigal game conference returns.

It has been four years since Casual Connect, the big casual games convention, left Seattle, as companies involved in the conference at the time told GeekWire that a lack of additional venue space was becoming an issue.

This year, Casual Connect is returning to the Emerald City, a region known by many as an epicenter of casual games. The event will be held Aug. 1-3 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and Triple Door. The conference is beginning a new three-year rotation across West Coast cities. In 2018, the event will take place in Anaheim, Calif. The following year it will be back in San Francisco before returning to Seattle in 2020.

Casual Games Association Director Jessica Tams.

Jessica Tams, managing director of the Casual Games Association, which puts on Casual Connect, has watched the rise of casual games in Seattle during her 20-year gaming career.

“The Pacific Northwest’s importance as a gaming hub was cemented when Roberta and Ken Williams relocated the massively successful Sierra Online (now Activision-Blizzard) to Bellevue from Oakhurst California in the early 90’s,” she said. “While many focus on Xbox, which was a highly visible and heavily marketed, Microsoft’s early video game releases bundled with their operating system included arguably the most popular video game of all time: Solitare.”

Today, Seattle is home to companies like PopCap, Big Fish Games, RealNetworks’ GameHouse division as well as gaming juggernaut Valve.

“With a deep games industry employee base and strong tech culture, the Pacific Northwest has been and will be for some time an important hub for the gaming industry. The Pacific Northwest’s games industry is strong all the way from Victoria Seattle to Eugene – and we look forward to seeing all our industry friends in the region again.”

Casual Connect was last held in Seattle in 2012. Since then, the conference has added a new Indie Prize scholarship program for independent game developers. This year’s conference is expected to attract 2,500 attendees. It will be held the weekend before Seafair and Casual Connect is encouraging attendees to stick around to celebrate the iconic Seattle event.

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