Game On: Cedar Valley Excels in Social Gaming
Social gaming producers are thriving in the Cedar Valley.
The word is out about the low cost of living in the Cedar Valley, the large talent pool, and the crazy-fast Internet service. Now, a pair of social gaming companies called Jam City and SciPlay live and thrive in the region.
Jam City was founded in Los Angeles in 2010 and has nine social gaming development studios worldwide, including one in Cedar Falls. Jam City’s games attract more than 30 million monthly active users, and the company makes popular games like Disney Emoji Blitz, Snoopy Pop and World War Doh.
SciPlay started in the late 1990s in Cedar Falls under the name Phantom EFX, started by three men hailing from the Cedar Valley. Before the internet and Facebook, they made CD-ROM games, then in 2012, started producing social games.
Social gaming involves downloading apps and installing them onto a smartphone or device rather than simply playing the game. Popular social games today include Candy Crush, Subway Surfers and Fill the Fridge.
“Here at SciPlay, we make a game called Jackpot Party Casino that is one of the largest casino-playing app games on the market,” says Kimber Dall, SciPlay vice president of people operations. “It’s free to download, and we make money with ads and when people reach a certain point and want to get more credits or spins. They pay from $1.99 up to $29.99 to download more additions to their game.”
For Work & Play
Dall says social games are for people to enjoy in their off time, to relax and check out for an hour or so. Other games produced by SciPlay include Bingo Showdown, Gold Fish Casino Slots, Monopoly Slots, Backgammon Live and Solitaire Pets Adventure.
Dall adds that the social gaming industry is huge, with SciPlay posting revenues of more than $600 million in 2021. The company is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol SCPL.
“We have about 175 employees here in Cedar Falls, plus eight interns from the University of Northern Iowa,” she says. “We also have offices in Israel, Finland and Austin, Texas. Most of our executives choose to continue living here in the Cedar Valley.”
Dall says the social gaming industry has many opportunities for young professionals looking for a fun and exciting career. Positions include software engineers and coders, quality assurance specialists, product managers, business analysts, customer service representatives and a large art department with graphic designers, illustrators and animators.
She adds that SciPlay has successfully recruited much of its workforce talent from large cities to the Cedar Valley.
If you’d like to learn more about the Cedar Valley area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Cedar Valley, Iowa.