True to its roots: Addicting Games to keep growing in Edmonton

· The Pulse
By Mack Male
in the Tech Roundup
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Addicting Games plans to continue building in Edmonton, even after being acquired last month by Toronto-based Enthusiast Gaming for about $35 million US.

"We're pretty excited, it's a big milestone for us," Bill Karamouzis, Addicting Games CEO and co-founder, told Taproot. "The future is very promising."

Addicting Games is based in Los Angeles but its roots are in Edmonton, where Karamouzis was born and raised. He moved to L.A. about five years ago.

When it came time to build the new Addicting Games, Karamouzis made Edmonton part of the foundation. The company spent about six years at Startup Edmonton before leaving to establish its own space in the city.

Enthusiast will retain all of Addicting Games' roughly 30 employees, including the six to eight who are based in Edmonton. "A move out of Edmonton wasn't even part of the conversation," Karamouzis said.

It was a very different conversation in 2011 when he sold a previous company, Hallpass Media, to L.A.-based Jam City. Karamouzis attributes the positive change to more stories coming out of Edmonton since then, an area where there's still room for opportunity, he said.

What's missing is that no one wants to look "boastful or arrogant" when there's a success story, he said. "But then people don't hear about the success and having a good outcome, which makes it harder for the people that come after."

The Addicting Games founding team: Bill, Jimmy, Becky, Celina, Matt, Chris, Rhys, Erin, and Kevin. (Supplied)

The Addicting Games founding team: Bill, Jimmy, Becky, Celina, Matt, Chris, Rhys, Erin, and Kevin. (Supplied)

More success stories could be on the way. According to the Edmonton Screen Industries Office, Edmonton is home to about 75 independent game developers.

"Success stories are typically not overnight, and culturally that's good, because people will build stuff and they stick around for the long-term," Karamouzis said. "Edmonton has always had a culture of building stuff."

Today, Addicting Games reaches over 10 million people per month with a range of casual game websites like Little Big Snake, Ev.io, and Math Games.

Karamouzis said the company considers browser games its specialty. "Games that are easy to play and difficult to master, that's our sweet spot."

The acquisition by Enthusiast promises to bring even more eyeballs to those games, along with resources needed to keep growing the team, including here in Edmonton.

"We're fortunate to leverage the good stuff that Edmonton brings, like tons of talent and a good gaming culture," Karamouzis said.