Founded in 2003, our humble beginnings sprung from two guys and a pioneering creation: Shuffleboard on a mobile phone! Quite revolutionary when you consider they built the game 6 years before ‘app’ became a household word with the launch of Apple’s App Store. Seeing the opportunity for simple, one-thumb-play casual games on the phone, Josh Hartwell and Paul Bolten eagerly hung up their web software cleats to enter the nascent mobile gaming space. Josh tackled design and business development duties, while Paul engineered their first Java shuffleboard prototype. Incorporating in January of 2003, the two parlayed Shuffleboard into a contract with JAMDAT studios within a month. They developed a golf game that later evolved into “Tiger Woods Golf”, and the company realized their first dollar by March 2003.
The initial project was the gateway to relationships with the likes of Nokia, Motorola, and ultimately a distribution partner in Cingular Wireless. Because the two came from a “work-for-hire shop” in their previous jobs, they made the strategic choice to not simply develop, but rather focus on self-publishing original properties with a mission towards quality and design. Sticking to their casual game vision, Josh surveyed the landscape and saw an opportunity to self-publish the ultimate casual game: Solitaire. The company’s flagship, Solitaire Deluxe®, was a solitaire combo pack that out-classed the competition by packaging the two most popular variations of the game, Klondike and FreeCell, with a quality and precision that was unmatched. Ironically, Solitaire Deluxe® competed directly with JAMDAT’s solitaire (and won, we might add), and Josh forged a partnership with Verizon Wireless to develop for their BREW platform. By year two’s end, the company had hired three additional full-time employees, Paul designed the PRO X platform to enable cross-platform distribution, and Solitaire Deluxe® was a Top Grossing game at Verizon and Cingular.
In 2004, Mobile Deluxe expanded out of Josh & Paul’s homes, and into our current headquarters in Santa Monica, California off of the world-famous Third Street Promenade. Now amongst artists, entertainers, and burgeoning technology companies, we found a home for creating great casual games. The new locale helped build the foundation for the company’s culture. The energy of the promenade promoted creativity and gave employees a mental break, healthy food options were plentiful, and the locale proved a recruiting point for future talent. (And who wouldn’t want to work three blocks from the Pacific Ocean?). This was also the point in which Josh got to unload Marketing & Production duties, focus on strategy and leadership, and bring Kellie Hartwell on as a full-time employee after a year of dedicated, substantive pro bono work. The company also recruited current senior management member, Sean Thompson, to oversee game development and production.
Over the last 8 years we have earned our first patent and expanded our collection of titles to include original creations like Blackjack Cheater®, Addiction™, Bliss™, Speed Texting 2.0™, and House Flipping Frenzy®, while publishing some of the biggest brand in the market for our partners at Universal, PBS, Nickelodeon, and Disney. Sahara®, Curious George® Monkey Fun, Curious George® Coloring Book, Super Why! Storybook, Toy Story 3: Operation Camouflage, Radio Disney Text-It, and Antiques Roadshow® all attained best-selling game status at Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Android, and we’re proud to have developed.
In 2011, we transitioned to a free-to-play model, making our award winning games available, for free, to the exploding smartphone market. We became the first free-to-play publisher to launch in Verizon’s Get It marketplace (beating out Tetris as the #1 selling game to boot!); we partnered with Amazon to launch Solitaire Deluxe® as a pioneering in-app purchase game; and we saw Solitaire Deluxe® eclipse 6 million worldwide downloads. As a bonus, AT&T awarded “Sudoku Deluxe®” with a “Best Application” and “Imagine.Create.Deliver” award for innovating charitable giving through game play, at back-to-back CTIA conferences. In 2012, we hold true to our roots by embodying a culture built on talent and camaraderie, games with an ethos towards casual and quality, and the ability to WOW our loyal players with a personal touch.