We’ve kicked off GamesBeat Summit 2019, our event at Two Bit Circus in Los Angeles, and I talked about our themes, motivations, and speakers for the event in an opening speech. I’ve included the speech for you here. You can also view what’s happening on the stages live here.
Here’s the speech.
Building gaming communities
We’ve been doing these conferences for more than 10 years. And I can honestly say that this is our best lineup ever.
It’s amazing what happens when you offer people free games and free food.
Putting on this event is also a nice way to be lazy. Why hunt down all of the newsmakers one at a time when we can bring you here to us. All we have to do is sit back and listen to your stories.
We have 97 speakers over the next day and a half. It’s the first time we’re doing two concurrent stages. Our audience can swipe right or swipe left.
If you can’t tell which stage is more important, that’s good. But I will say more CEOs are on the Boss stage, where we are now, and more consumer and community talks are on the Hero stage. Swipe right for the Boss Stage. Swipe left for Hero. If the stages get a little tight, remember you can watch the TVs on the outside and listen on the app.
About 37 speakers are CEOs, presidents, and founders. 14 are women. 20 are from racially diverse groups. And despite a decade of events, 61 of the speakers have never spoken at a GamesBeat event before. For speakers who need inspiration: Remember the words of Reggie, who retired last week from Nintendo: “My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass.”
And since so many of you are fresh faces, that means I get to recycle my jokes.
This routine is part of my attempt to show you that we are in a safe space. You have license to be brilliant. Innovative. Different. Inspiring. Amazing. Uplifting. I thought it was beautiful of Ubisoft to make Assassin’s Creed Unity available for free, in the wake of the Notre Dame fire, so people could once again see what the unburnt cathedral looked like.
That’s inspiring, and you can make us feel that way too. Just don’t be goofy like me. I set the bar low, so you can go high.
In fact, this conference has leveled up so much, that I’m removing myself from a lot of it. We’ve got our super professional co-emcees, Andrea Rene and Tommy Tallarico on the Hero Stage, and Elizabeth Howard and Ted Staloch on the Boss Stage.
My job is to bring you here. As speakers, you are here to tell stories. And to help us strengthen our GamesBeat community. Our theme is about building gaming communities. And I guess this community is for people who tolerate my jokes.
Actually, we have a very high bar for speaking here. Some previous speakers asked me why I didn’t ask them to speak again. And I asked, “What did you do different, from a year ago, or the last time you talked?” Like what have you done for us lately? That’s what you have to do when you are curating and serving an audience.
This is one message I hope doesn’t get old. We have an enduring mission for GamesBeat Summit, the GamesBeat publication, and VentureBeat. We’re curators. We serve our audience. We serve our readers. We present you with thought leadership. We are real journalists. We are not fake news. We are public servants.
We have brought you to a place where you can make the most of things, whether you’re raising money, looking for innovative developers, trying to make an acquisition, or searching for inspiration. This is your opportunity, your possibility space, as Will Wright would say. You can even take over the unconference room for your own purposes. This is the neutral zone of the industry. GamesBeat Summit is a place where we check our tribalism at the door.
And you should give yourself permission to stay away from the office, catch up with old friends, or make new ones. Face to face work always pays off. Not all those who wander are lost. And this venue, Two Bit Circus, is such a great place to wander. Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman built it for community.
We bill this as an exclusive conference. But we never try to keep good people out. We lowered our ticket prices for developers to the lowest we’ve ever had them. We’ve used some of our money from sponsors like Facebook to bring interesting people here, like Lual Mayen, who went from refugee to game developer.
We can put an emotional talk like Lual’s story of making games for peace, or the Xbox Adaptive Controller discussion about how everyone wins when we all play, right next to the conversation of Google Stadia leader Phil Harrison and Amy Hennig about what’s coming next. And it will seem like the most natural thing. You will hear Kevin Chou’s vision for blockchain games and Tommy Tallarico take us back to the past of Intellivision. We cover all of games at this conference.
Our speakers are going to make you think. Are games really meant for everyone? Are hardcore gamers really who you think they are? Why did Apex Legends take off? If you make games universally accessible, will everybody play?
The research shows that games do not make you behave violent. But can they make you addicted, and if so, what should you do about it? Or can games make you see things from another perspective, or make you feel more peaceful? Can message games convince you to do something about issues, like climate change?
We made sure the common thread in this room was gathering people who make you feel like you are stepping into the future, five years ahead of everyone else. These are some of the people who can inspire the next generation and bring more diverse gamers and game creators into the fold.
The way to think about this is like the user interface for a game. You can zoom in on tactical ideas, like Brian Bowman’s talk on adtech or Adjust’s panel on eradicating bots. Or you can zoom out for inspirational ideas on the future of games, and how to invest in that future, so we can add another billion gamers. Or two.
Chris Taylor, who will speak tomorrow, gave us that notion of strategic zoom in his games like Supreme Commander. I like to think GamesBeat is a unique publication because we cover things like the skill it takes to play Sekiro or Cuphead, but we also ask questions at the high level, pulling up to get some strategic zoom on the landscape.
Intentional and accidental game platforms
I used to talk about the difference between the accidental and intentional game platforms. The intentional game companies are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo and the accidental game companies are Amazon, Google, Apple, Tencent, and Facebook. By accidental, I mean that they created platforms that were meant for something else, but eventually welcomed games. The iPhone is a perfect example of that. Steve Jobs didn’t like games. But he saw that people wanted to play.
The intentional game companies have been deadly serious about games for a long time, and they have decades-long credibility with their customers. They are about to launch another cycle of new products that reel in more of us.
But now the accidental companies are all awake to the power of games. Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the stage at the Game Developers Conference to declare that games are for everyone and that he wants billions more people to become gamers. That carried gravity. And Phil Harrison and Jade Raymond brought game business cred as they announced Google’s cloud gaming platform Stadia.
That’s throwing down the gauntlet. Apple became the latest company to propose a subscription game service, Apple Arcade, launching this fall. It is the latest company to offer a “Netflix of games.”
Then you have games like Fortnite, which Epic is using to become a platform unto itself. If you look at the top games being streamed on Twitch, you’ll see that it is a multi-store world.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this moment. And this is why, for the first time in a decade, I bought a new suit for this conference.
It’s like a battle royale among the platforms, spilling across borders and genres and business models. And what are they fighting over? You. The creators. The makers. The doers.
It’s like the war of the seven kingdoms. (You knew I was going to get a Game of Thrones reference in there.) It’s a chess game, where you win or you die. And it is very hard to understand, because you don’t really know who’s is a pawn and who is a queen, or who’s bastard, and who’s a king. Our speakers will help you sort that out.
This is the time to bring your A game. It’s not a time for sitting on sidelines. We are in an era of accelerating and cascading revolutions. You don’t want to be distracted by those who want to drag us back into the past, when only certain people got to play.
I’d like to thank the people who made this happen, starting with our GamesBeat team members Jason Wilson, Mike Minotti, Jeff Grubb, and Giancarlo Valdes. Thanks also to the VentureBeat team who worked hard on this event, as well as our advisory board, Show Imaging, USC Games, Two Bit Circus, Jason Robar, and my own daughter, Danielle Takahashi.
Thanks so much to our sponsors and partners. Your money and support pays not only for this great event in this place. It enables us to deliver news to you 365 days a year.
From our U.S. president on down to the denizens of Gamergate, media critics say that we are the enemy. But we believe our purpose is to serve you, and we cannot do it without your help. Please join us in helping people see that the future is what matters — not keeping games shackled inside an old stereoptype, trapped by borders that are imaginary.
I think about the privilege I’ve had in going around the world to hear people talk about games. I try to understand why a local games industry blossomed in those places. Where in the world will the next game jobs be created? Where will your competitors come from? Where will the Notre Dame of gaming be created? It is hard to measure, but the spread of game development into places like Israel, Helsinki, Pakistan, Bogota, and even Siberia is inspiring.
And let’s hear it for LA, where I first started covering companies like Blizzard Entertainment, as they were born. We’re pleased to do this event for a second time in Los Angeles, where the game industry is coming on very strong. This particular event was first suggested by Peter Levin and the Bushnells, the first family of fun. And I am so glad we did this here.
I don’t want to put too much responsibility on you. But what you do matters. Not just at the GamesBeat Summit, but in your careers in gaming, which is all about spreading fun and love, not hate and fear. One day, your kids will ask, “What did you do in the battle royale wars, daddy?” or “How did you fight as a knight in the war of the seven gaming kingdoms, mommy?” And I assure you that you will feel good when you say, “I did something that mattered.”
Thank you so much for coming. Now go kick some ass. And remember Notre Dame.