Check out the latest new speakers and new site for GamesBeat@GDC

We’re excited to unveil our latest speakers for GamesBeat@GDC, our executive game conference that takes place at the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday, March 10, at the Moscone convention center in San Francisco. We’ve created a Facebook group for the conference where you can chat with fellow attendees and see who’s attending. We welcome your suggestions on that page. And we’ve created our own GamesBeat 2010 dedicated web site. Look for more details to be posted on these sites in the coming days.

Oracle kills Project Darkstar; adios to virtual worlds

Oracle decided to pull the plug yesterday on Project Darkstar, a Sun Microsystems project aimed at creating the backend infrastructure for virtual worlds. It was the labor of love of Chris Melissinos, the chief gaming officer at Sun who announced on his Facebook page that he was leaving Sun after 16 years.

Interview with Tim LeTourneau on 10 years of making The Sims

Game designer Will Wright has moved on to new things. But Tim LeTourneau has been with The Sims game development teams since before the first game launched a decade ago. Now he is the vice president and general manager of The Sims Studio at Electronic Arts. EA says that the video game franchise has now sold more than 125 million units across 60 countries. Like a machine, EA has produced 45 different versions of the game, launching The Sims 2 in 2004 and The Sims 3 in 2009 as base games for expansion titles. We caught up with LeTourneau for an interview about the occasion.

The Sims celebrates 125 million games sold across 10 years

When Electronic Arts launched The Sims on Feb. 4, 2000, nobody knew if it would sell. But on its tenth anniversary, The Sims has become a blockbuster franchise in video games, with more than 125 million copies sold worldwide. It has had a profound influence on game design, broadened the definition of a game, and become embedded in pop culture.

Namco Networks is investing heavily in social and mobile games

There is life beyond Pac-Man. Namco Bandai Games is famous for the quintessential video game of the 1980s. And that game has helped the Japanese game publisher break into new mobile and social game markets. But the core belief at Namco Networks, the U.S. arm of the company in San Jose, Calif., is that it can create new kinds of games that will help accelerate its growth in the hot parts of the video game market.

Victory: A ranking system for what makes a social game into a blockbuster

Alok Kejriwal, chief executive of Indian game firm Games2Win, shared a couple of interesting charts with me that describe a way to rank social games by benchmarking how they stack up in a variety of important features such as the quality of the game play, the virality of a game, which makes it spread faster, how original it is, whether it has international appeal, and how addictive or habit forming the game is.

How BioWare tries to create realistic human faces in Mass Effect 2 video game (video)

Adrien Cho was the producer in charge of the artists for BioWare’s epic Mass Effect 2 video game, which debuted on Tuesday and has sold more than 2 million copies on the Xbox 360. We interviewed him about the art style of the science fiction game, which features close-up animations of humans and aliens talking. The game tries to render human faces so the look believable, but in a stylistic way. Of course, the company that really figures out how to do realistic human faces with 3-D animation will likely make a bundle of money and sell lots of games. Here’s our video interview with Cho.