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We have a multiverse of speakers coming to our metaverse event, GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse. A couple of our latest speakers include Cyberpunk creator Mike Pondsmith, CEO of R. Talsorian Games; Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards; Siobhan Reddy, head of Dreams creator Media Molecule; and Richard Bartle, a pioneering researcher on AI in games and online gaming. (You can sign up here.)
Our metaverse conference takes place on January 27 and January 28, just after our Driving Gaming Growth conference with Facebook on January 26. And yes, those dates are correct, as we had so much interest that we extended the event by a day. Our theme is worth explaining, as we all know the metaverse is stuff of science fiction. Why the heck would we do a gaming business conference on this subject?
Well, the Zoomverse isn’t the place where we want to spend the pandemic. We’re still sheltering in place and playing games like Call of Duty: Warzone. But we don’t have a way to be as social as we once were. I can’t wait to be in the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
Judging by the demand for our event, a lot of people feel the same way. We could dismiss the metaverse, or the Xverse, the Magicverse, the Omniverse, the Holodeck, the Oasis — whatever sci-fi name we want to give it — as pure fiction. But we have come a long way since Will Wright, the famous game developer, said that “a dog-eared copy of Snow Crash” is the business plan for every startup in Silicon Valley.
Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.
Many Silicon Valley technologists and game developers have thought about the metaverse and how to make it, but more as a hobby, a pipe dream, or a night job. But we need it now more than ever, and an increasing number of tech and game leaders are thinking about this as their day jobs.
It’s not just a hobby or science fiction anymore. It’s a realistic alternative to the Zoomverse, which isn’t very compelling as a replacement for physical reality. Will this new wave propelled by the pandemic take us into the real metaverse? Will we find the glue that ties it all together so the metaverse isn’t Babel? Will it be open? We hope to answer some of the questions at our event.
That’s why we’re doing this event, and we are so grateful to be able to get a host of great speakers. You can see the names on the preliminary agenda below. But our latest speakers include futurist Cathy Hackl, Sam Englebardt of Galaxy Interactive, Ian Livingstone of Hiro Capital, Peter Levin of Griffin Gaming Partners, Dean Abramson and Sean Mann of RP1, Toby Tremayne and Ryan Gill of Crucible, Akash Nagam of Genies, Rony Abovitz, Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, Ted Schilowitz of Paramount Pictures, Lauren Bigelow of IMVU, Meaghan Fitzgerald of Facebook Reality Labs, Jessica Freeman of Microsoft/Minecraft, friendship expert Shasta Nelson, Timoni West and Danny Lange of Unity, Bruce Grove of Polystream, John Burris of IMVU, Tanya DePass of I Need Diverse Games, Frederic Descamps of Manticore Games, Raph Koster of Playable Worlds, Jason Wilson of GamesBeat, Ronan Dunne of Verizon Consumer Group, John Hanke of Niantic, Joost van Dreunen of NYU, Vicki Dobbs Beck of ILMxLab, Siobhan Reddy of Media Molecule, Jamil Moledina of Hexagram, Mythical Games John Linden, Chris Swan of Unit 2 Games, Alon Dayan of Unbotify/Adjust, Hilmar Petursson of CCP Games, Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity, Andy Vaughan of Dolby, Mike Minotti of GamesBeat, Kyle Wiggers of VentureBeat, Richard Kerris of Nvidia, XR consultant Raffaella Camera, Christoph Fleischmann of Arthur, and Hendrik Lesser of Remote Control Productions.
Our previously announced speakers include uber-geeks such as Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and other visionaries who are investing heavily in the metaverse, like Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki; Gumi CEO Hironao Kunimitsu; Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell; Fable Studio CEO Edward Saatchi; Nvidia media and entertainment general manager Richard Kerris; Manticore Games CEO Frederic Descamps; and High Fidelity CEO Philip Rosedale.
Here’s what the metaverse agenda looks like on January 27 and January 28. And don’t forget we’ve got a ton of great speakers talking about Driving Gaming Growth on January 27 in a partnership with Facebook.
January 27 preliminary agenda
8:20 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.
Into the metaverse
Dean Takahashi, lead writer for GamesBeat, read Snow Crash when it came out, and he saw it inspire a wave of Silicon Valley startups. With the exception of Second Life, that early wave failed. Now, more than two decades later, the tech and gaming world is invoking the metaverse and the Oasis of Ready Player One in their business plans for next-generation simulated worlds. He’ll set the stage.
8:40 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
The Stepping Stones to the Oasis
Gumi has built a big business with mobile games like Brave Frontier in the Japanese market. But these games are but stepping stones for the real ambition of CEO Hironao Kunimitsu. He wants to build the Oasis, and he has assembled a variety of assets and investments to make it happen. That includes investments in games, blockchain technology, and virtual reality. How long will it take to fuse it all together into the
Hironao Kunimitsu of Gumi
Moderator: Dean Takahashi
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Dave Baszucki wants to build the metaverse – an online place where we work and play and entertain ourselves. Roblox is quite serious that the metaverse is a practical possibility that we can build soon, and it is part of Baszucki’s business plan. And with an average of more than 36 million people from around the world coming to Roblox every day, he has one of the most credible paths to getting to the metaverse first.
Dave Baszucki of Roblox
Moderator: Dean Takahashi
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Why we need an open metaverse
Tim Sweeney has been a proponent of the metaverse for years, and his company is trying to build parts of it inside Fortnite. Epic’s acquisitions have served that purpose as the company tries to be one of the private companies that matter in the metaverse. But Sweeney also feels a strong responsibility to the whole industry, and his approach — from antitrust lawsuits to major speeches advocating openness — is helping shape how everyone views the huge opportunity before us. We’ll have a fireside chat to probe into this advocate for the open metaverse.
Tim Sweeney of Epic Games
Moderator: Dean Takahashi
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Blueprints for the open metaverse
The technology behind the open metaverse. It may be tough for a single company to build the metaverse. The building blocks are here today, but each piece may be in the hands of game startups, tech companies, or big companies in the gaming ecosystem. We’ll have a panel to help identify the path to the metaverse and the tech that needs to make it happen. Will we make it happen without walled gardens?
Dean Abramson of RP1
Toby Tremayne of Crucible
Sean Mann of RP1
Moderator: Ryan Gill of Crucible
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Investing in the metaverse
Investors are making their own moves in an attempt to manifest the metaverse. They want to get in early on the far future, but they also have to finance startups that will prove practical today. How early should they be, and what is the right avenue and technology to get there? Should they invest in games, platforms, VR/AR/XR, blockchain, or pure infrastructure? We’ll find out from our panel of investors who see the metaverse as a theme for their investment strategy.
Sam Englebardt of Galaxy Interactive
Ian Livingstone of Hiro Capital
Peter Levin of Griffin Gaming Partners
Moderator: Eric Goldberg of Crossover Technologies
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Virtual beings and the metaverse
If we’re going to have a metaverse, we need virtual beings represented in it, and they can be embodied either by real humans or artificial intelligence. Edward Saatchi, CEO of Fable Studio, has been running the Virtual Beings Summit to gather all of the relevant parties for creating emotionally aware, AI-enhanced virtual people in a variety of markets. These believable virtual beings are critical for an authentic metaverse, and we’ll explore what it takes to create them. We’ll discuss everything from non-player characters with AI to virtual concerts.
Edward Saatchi of Fable Studio
Akash Nagam of Genies
Moderator: Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Will VR unlock the promise of the metaverse?
Virtual reality has been the obvious path to the metaverse, with its immersive simulation and ability to make us feel presence, or the idea that we are somewhere else. For years VR has been lauded as the clear path toward unlocking the promises of a metaverse, but we are still waiting. Will VR, or perhaps augmented reality or mixed reality, deliver on the dream in the long run?
Jesse Schell of Schell Games
Moderator: Stephanie Llamas
12:00 p.m. -12:30 p.m.
Making the metaverse personal
Moderator: Geoff Keighley
Mike Pondsmith of R. Talsorian Games and creator of Cyberpunk
12:30 p.m. -1:00 p.m.
Notes from our science fiction future
Richard Taylor and Rony Abovitz collaborated to bring a future vision of Cinematic Reality to life, with early examples happening on the Magic Leap One Spatial Computing System, with experiences such as Dr. G Invaders. Join them in a discussion about how to bring cinematic story-worlds to life, and what still needs to happen to feel like you are in a persistent, sentient Xverse – and how the writers of fantasy and science-fiction will need to push beyond current thinking, as the reality of science continues to chase the imaginations of creatives.
Rony Abovitz, board member of Magic Leap
Richard Taylor director of Weta Workshop
Moderator: Ted Schilowitz, Paramount Pictures Futurist in Residence
12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m./1:30 p.m.
1:00 pm -1:30 pm
Making Friends in the Metaverse
Socializing and making friends in a virtual world can be very different than in real life. As people spend more and more time in virtual worlds, developers need to begin prioritizing social experiences and interactions for players. How are friendships best developed virtually? Can meaningful friendships naturally form in digital environments? A panel of experts will discuss these topics and more as we explore the subject of making friends in the metaverse.
Lauren Bigelow of IMVU
Meaghan Fitzgerald of Facebook Reality Labs
Jessica Freeman of Microsoft/Minecraft
Moderator: Shasta Nelson, Friendship Expert
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Breaking the 4th wall
A discussion on how game technologies are welcoming new audiences into virtual worlds.
Bruce Grove of Polystream
Elina Arponen, CEO of Quicksave Interactive
Si Lumb – Futurist
Moderator: Wanda Meloni
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
The tools for the metaverse
Timoni West of Unity
Danny Lange of Unity
Moderator: Charlie Fink
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Transmedia and the metaverse
Mark Long CEO of Neon Media
Jeff Gomez Starlight Runner Entertainment
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Blockchain and the metaverse
Arthur Madrid, CEO of Pixowl
Moderator: Dean Takahashi
3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Our keynote speakers — Hironao Kunimitsu of Gumi and Tim Sweeney of Epic Games answer questions from the audience about the metaverse. Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat will moderate the session.
Reception and Networking
January 28 preliminary agenda
8:40 a.m. – 8:55 a.m.
8:55 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
The Economy of the metaverse
John Burris of IMVU
9:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
The evolution of bots and future predictions
Alon Dayan, founder of Unbotify at Adjust
Moderator: Dean Takahashi
9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Startups show us the way. They always try to leap forward and free us from the shackles of the past. The metaverse is a very big idea, but startups are biting off chunks of it today and executing on their dreams. Their belief is that the metaverse will be a multiverse, or a collection of worlds built by a whole collection of companies and projects and consortia, and they believe that startups will get there first. We’ll hear from a few of them on this panel.
Tanya DePass of I Need Diverse Games
Frederic Descamps of Manticore Games
Raph Koster of Playable Worlds
Moderator: Jason Wilson of GamesBeat
10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
5G and the metaverse
How will new technology unlock new entertainment experiences?
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group
John Hanke, Founder and CEO of Niantic
Moderator: Joost van Dreunen, founder of SuperData
10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
From Storytelling to Storyliving in the metaverse
The metaverse could bring about the transition from storytelling (one way communication) to storyliving, where you’re in a world making meaningful choices that drive the narrative forward. World building is at the very core of this mission. Storytellers have an opportunity to remake what they do with the metaverse in a way that transcends individual platforms and devices and allows us to tell stories that are connected and complementary across locations, in-home, and in ‘theaters of the future.’ As famous science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin once said: “There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” Get ready to step inside the story like never before.
Vicki Dobbs Beck of ILMxLab
Siobhan Reddy of Media Molecule
Moderator: Jamil Moledina of Hexagram
11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Creative play as a destination
More and more of people’s time is being spent in online digitally connected experiences, and the line is continuing to blur between creators and consumers. This panel looks ahead at how the metaverse impacts these current trends, and the technologies behind it.
Mythical Games CEO John Linden
Chris Swan, Publishing Director, Unit 2 Games
Jacob Navok, CEO of Genvid
Moderator Wanda Meloni
1145 a.m. – 1215 p.m.
Diversity and the metaverse
Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association
moderator: Dean Takahashi
12:15 p.m. – 12:45 a.m.
Eve Online: A blueprint for the metaverse
Creating virtual worlds that are more meaningful than real life has been CCP Games’ mission since the conception of EVE Online, a game that has and continues to blaze a trail for some of the more advanced concepts at play in virtual societies. To achieve this, CCP has pioneered technology and design that facilitates emergent behavior, empowering people with compelling means of self-expression. In this discussion, CCP’s CEO Hilmar V. Pétursson will talk about how the Eve universe’s complex player-organised social structures and vast player-run economy sets a blueprint for the metaverse, as well as sharing insight into the R&D that CCP has been conducting in recent years.
Hilmar Petursson of CCP Games
Moderator: Mike Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisors
12:45 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Listen to the metaverse
Sound is an integral part of the metaverse. High Fidelity has 3D audio that creates a space for the metaverse, where you can listen to a large group of people, or zero in on just a couple of people at a time. How can sound make the metaverse as immersive as it needs to be? We’ll find out more in this panel.
Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity
Andy Vaughan of Dolby
Moderator: Mike Minotti of GamesBeat
1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Enterprise and the metaverse
Nvidia Omniverse is a virtual platform where engineers, designers and researchers can collaborate and simulate physically accurate worlds to test their designs. Arthur is creating VR for enterprises. And big companies like Accenture are also building VR meeting places. Is the enterprise going to be the path to the metaverse?
Richard Kerris of Nvidia
Raffaella Camera, formerly of Accenture
Arthur CEO Christoph Fleischmann
Moderator: Kyle Wiggers of VentureBeat
1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
The Ethics of the metaverse
Richard Bartle of the University of Essex
Moderator: Hendrik Lesser of Remote Control Productions
2:15 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
2:20 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
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