International Game Technology (IGT) has hired former Zynga game executive Jim Veevaert as the new vice president of games for its DoubleDown Casino division.
Veevaert joins IGT after the founders of Seattle-based DoubleDown Interactive, Greg Enell and Cooper DuBois, left IGT two weeks ago. They set in motion a boom for social casino games in January 2012 when IGT, the world’s biggest slot-machine maker, acquired DoubleDown Interactive for $500 million.
Veevaert will oversee the long-term strategy for the popular DoubleDown Casino on Facebook and mobile devices. He will also create new games and run them through development, launch, and post-launch enhancement.
“IGT’s DoubleDown Casino is the authentic social casino experience, and I’m excited to be joining the team here in Seattle,” said Veevaert. “DoubleDown Casino is transforming gaming entertainment, and I’m passionate to bring great games to players across the Web and on mobile devices around the world.”
Market-research firm Eilers Research estimates that the social casino game business was worth $1.98 billion in 2013, up 52 percent from a year ago. IGT is No. 2 in the social casino games market with a 12 percent market share. It is behind Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which has 14.7 percent market share. Zynga, which was once the dominant firm, is now third with 10.1 percent market share.
Prior to joining IGT, Veevaert was general manager of Zynga’s game studio in Seattle. He has spent 20 years in gaming and has experience ranging from console to social games. He held executive positions at Zynga, Jerry Bruckheimer Games, Microsoft Game Studios, and Vivendi/Sierra Entertainment. He was vice president in charge of the Half-Life and Counter-Strike franchises and was executive producer of blockbuster shooter Halo 3. He brought the successful Gears of War franchise to Xbox by cutting a deal with Epic Games.
“As we continue to grow IGT’s DoubleDown, this is the perfect opportunity for us to welcome Jim Veevaert and his vast gaming industry experience to the IGT family. Jim is truly at the top of his game, and he brings great talents that complement the strong existing senior leadership team at DoubleDown,” said John Vandemore, IGT executive vice president of emerging businesses. ”We look forward to propelling DoubleDown’s ascent, fueled by Jim’s leadership and ingenious vision, as we deliver best-in-class gaming content and player experiences.”