GamesBeat 2012 panel will examine the rise of social casino games

We’re pleased to announce that we’ll have a breakout panel on social casino games, one of the hottest social game categories in 2012, at our annual GamesBeat 2012 conference on July 10-11 in San Francisco.

Social casino games have become a hot category on Facebook, accounting for 13 percent of all of the players on Facebook, compared to just 8 percent a year ago, according to analytics firm Kontagent. That makes social casino games bigger as a category than farm games or city simulations.

Speculation that the government will relax online gambling restrictions and allow real-money gambling at some point in social casino games has fueled investment in the titles. Zynga has the largest poker game in the world with Zynga Poker on Facebook, but land-based and online casino operators are rushing into Zynga’s territory. Many of the top grossing iPhone apps in the U.S. are casino games.

Why is there such an attraction for these games, which feature relatively simple gameplay? Is the investment in this space getting overheated, or is it just getting started?

The panel will feature some of the most interesting experts on the topic today:

Brock Pierce, moderator of the panel and managing director at the Clearstone Global Gaming Fund. Pierce is an entrepreneur known for his work in pioneering the market for virtual goods in online games. He has started or acquired more than 30 businesses and secured more than $200 million in funding for his companies. He is the chief executive of social casino game maker Playsino and sits on the boards of IMI Exchange, Xfire, Spicy Horse Games and Evertune.

David Bezahler, chief executive of Blitzoo Games. Blitzoo is a 26-person social games studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is the creator of SlotSpot Casino on Facebook and iOS. Bezahler has spent the last 15 years building web companies. Prior to joining Blitzoo, he was the co-founder and chief innovation officer of Ayogo Games.

Nicholas Talarico, chief executive of 12 Gigs, a social-mobile HTML5 casino gaming engine and network. Prior to starting 12 Gigs, Talarico led publisher development for Offerpal (now Tapjoy). He was also an original member of YouWeb, the social game incubator.

Jesse Jasonov, vice president and general manager of Zynga’s casino game franchise. He manages games that include Zynga Bingo and Zynga Poker. The latter is Zynga’s oldest active game and it is still the No. 1 game on Facebook with more than 34.8 million monthly active users.

Christopher Griffin, chief executive and founder of Betable. He is a seasoned entrepreneur and fundraiser who has worked with early and mid-stage companies. His company is creating a platform that gives game developers the ability to legally integrate real-money gambling and betting into their games.

The theme of the conference is “the crossover era.” The game industry as we know it is changing. We’re seeing established companies cross over from one market to another, where once they faced barriers. As companies adapt to change, we are witnessing disruption, change, consolidation, innovation, and the arrival of big money. We’re talking billions of dollars that are at stake.

Our previously announced speakers are Will Wright of Stupid Fun Club; Atul Bagga of Lazard Capital Markets; Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins; David Perry of Gaikai; Mitch Lasky of Benchmark Capital; Peter Relan of YouWeb; Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio; Seamus Blackley of Innovative Leisure; Tim Chang of Mayfield Fund; Will Harbin of Kixeye; Tim Merel of Digi-Capital; Chris Petrovic, general manager of GameStop Digital Ventures; Riccardo Zacconi, CEO of King.com; and Kristian Segerstrale, executive vice president for digital at Electronic Arts.

We’re expecting 500 movers and shakers from throughout the game industry — social, mobile, online, and console. Please join us.

We want to thank the industry leaders that are supporting GamesBeat 2012: W3i as Platinum Sponsor, King.com as Corporate Sponsor, Flurry & Tapjoy as Gold Sponsors, Greystripe & Nokia Developer as Silver Sponsors, and Game Insight, Kontagent, Nexage, Pontiflex & Swrve as Event Sponsors.


GamesBeat 2012 is VentureBeat’s fourth annual conference on disruption in the video game market. This year we’re calling on speakers from the hottest mobile, social, PC, and console companies to debate new ways to stay on pace with changing consumer tastes and platforms. Join 500+ execs, investors, analysts, entrepreneurs, and press as we explore the gaming industry’s latest trends and newest monetization opportunities. The event takes place July 10-11 in San Francisco, and you can get your tickets here.