It gives me great pleasure to announce that Tim Sweeney, the chief executive of Epic Games and a game graphics pioneer for 25 years, will be a premier speaker at our upcoming GamesBeat 2015 conference.
He’ll do a fireside chat with me about the future of gaming in both technological and business terms. The event will gather the top thinkers of the game industry for our seventh annual GamesBeat 2015 conference on October 12 and October 13 in San Francisco.
Sweeney has been one of the industry’s seers when it comes to 3D graphics in video games. He recently gave a talk at the ChinaJoy 2015 event where he predicted that perfect augmented reality glasses could one day mean that we won’t need big-screen monitors, TVs, or even smartphone or tablet screens. His reasoning: If we have the equivalent of 40-feet screens in front of our eyes at any time we want (maybe in the next decade), the rest of the screens in our lives become superfluous.
He’s also said in an interview with me that he is excited about 3D graphics on mobile devices and virtual reality systems that will immerse us in believable worlds.
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Sweeney is also quite passionate about making life easier for game developers, even as Epic’s Unreal game engine enables them to make more and more sophisticated graphics and physics effects in games. And earlier in the summer, Sweeney expressed his empathy for independent game developers, noting how he wants to see a world where gaming isn’t dominated by a handful of titles but instead has a healthy ecosystems with many different types of thriving games.
Epic is in a massive fight with rival Unity Technologies for the hearts and minds of game makers. And Sweeney has been pretty consistent as an advocate for game developers.
I interviewed him more than a decade ago for a book on the making of the Xbox and once again for a book on the making of the Xbox 360 game console. Both times, he was very influential in how the machines turned out. Sweeney was one of the key advisers to Microsoft in its decision to add more main memory to the Xbox 360. That decision cost Microsoft more than a billion dollars, but Sweeney argued it was the right thing because it would enable game developers to create much more beautiful games.
At the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit industry event in Las Vegas, Sweeney was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. In an interview at that time, Sweeney told me that business and technology were “intricately linked.”
Clearly, we’ll have no shortage of things to talk about.
At our event, we’ll get him to address our theme: A Game of Thrones. Gaming has many kingdoms: mobile, console, PC online, geographic, and more. In each of these powerful realms, companies are fighting to grow fast, to come out on top — and to cross boundaries to rule more than one empire. Playing the competitive game, making alliances, prepping for new platforms like augmented and virtual reality, and surviving the incredibly fast change in gaming right now is more difficult than ever. It’s more complex than the fantasy world of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones … and it’s happening right in front of us all. At GamesBeat 2015, we’ll dissect how these kings and queens are battling for gaming supremacy and growth. We’ll find out who’s leading and how they are winning.
We’re screening our speakers for bold ideas, transparency, global strategies, creativity, and diversity. Our speakers show that gaming has become a global and diverse business with many intricacies and strategies. This year, we’ll have as many as 80 speakers and many well-known moderators over the course of two days.
Our previously announced speakers include:
Chris Heatherly, head of social and mobile at Disney Interactive.
Mark Skaggs, senior vice president and the co-creator of hit social games like FarmVille and Empires & Allies at Zynga. He will be interviewed by Steve Peterson, West Coast editor at Games Industry International and senior editor at the Gamer Network.
Graeme Devine, chief creative officer and vice president of games at Magic Leap. Devine has had a storied career in games over decades. At Magic Leap in Florida, he is helping to launch new games that work with the company’s augmented-reality glasses, which can overlay virtual animations on top of what you see in the real world. Luminaries such as Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, say that Magic Leap is doing things that he didn’t think were possible. Devine describes Magic Lea’s technology, Cinematic Reality, as a “rocket ship for the mind.”
Device has worked on, programmed, and designed games such as The 7th Guest, 11th Hour, Quake 3, Doom 3, Age of Empires 3, various ports of Pole Position, Ballblazer, and many many others. He also worked at Apple during the rise of the iPhone as one of the company’s iPhone gaming technologists. He is head of GRL Games, and worked at places such as Delicious Monster Software, Microsoft, Ensemble Studios, id Software, Trilobyte, Virgin Games, and Mastertronic.
Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon. Mahoney became the head of Nexon in March 2014. He joined Nexon in 2010 and served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer until 2014, responsible for managing the Company’s finances, global operations, investments and strategic alliances. Under his leadership, Nexon successfully completed its $1.2 billion initial public offering on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and formed strategic partnerships with high-profile developers and publishers around the world.Previously, Mahoney was senior vice president of corporate development at Electronic Arts from 2000 to 2009, where he was responsible for worldwide mergers and acquisitions and business development, and led all acquisitions and equity investments. Prior to that, Mahoney held executive positions at online and software companies in the U.S. and Asia, including PointCast, Claris Japan and Radius.
At Nexon, Mahoney has overseen an expansion to the West and a move into mobile games. Mahoney has signed up famous Western developers such as Brian Reynolds, Tim Train, Cliff Bleszinski, John Schappert, and Mike Borras.
Mahoney will be interviewed on stage at GamesBeat 2015 in a fireside chat by Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors, which provides merger, acquisition, strategy, and investment advice for operating companies, investment funds, private equity firms, and venture capital firms.
Michael Pachter, research analyst at Wedbush Securities. He is an oft-quoted video game, social media, digital media, and electronics analyst with Wedbush Securities. He is also the head of research for the Private Shares Group, a Wedbush division which focuses on companies that have not yet gone public, such as Facebook (pre-IPO) and Twitter. He is regularly cited by national publications in the United States, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Pachter was the emcee at our GamesBeat 2014 event last year, and he was able to step in as a substitute speaker to talk about the state of the video game business. You can never catch him off guard when it comes to talking about the game industry.
Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures. Sanderson is a lifelong gamer, and he has been involved in game finance for 20 years. He focuses on investments in gaming, music technology, ecommerce, search, and adtech. Phil started his investment career at Goldman Sachs and Robertson Stephens. His team has invested in game companies such as Funzio and Telltale Games.
Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners. Dhillon is a game investor who joined the Signia team in 2012 after launching his own location-based mobile startup named Barstool and investing in early-stage technology companies for New World Ventures in LA and Chicago. He was previously an M&A analyst in technology investment banking at Rothschild in London. He serves on the board of Kihon Games and as a board observer with Signia’s investments in Super Evil Megacorp, Phoenix Labs, and Artillery. His focus these days includes investments in virtual reality startups.
Jason Rubin, head of Worldwide Studios at Oculus VR division of Facebook. Rubin has made some legendary games in his two decades in video games. His credits include the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, and his games have sold more than 35 million copies and have generated more than $1 billion in revenue.
He cofounded the Naughty Dog game studio, and in 2001, he sold it to Sony Computer Entertainment America. He left in 2004, creating the startup Morgan Rose to pursue various entertainment ventures. He also started online mashup tool startup Flektor in 2006 and sold it to Fox Interactive Media. He joined THQ as president in May 2012.
Shintaro Asako, the CEO of DeNA West. Asako runs the Western business of DeNA, a global developer and publisher of mobile games. He leads the company’s operations and corporate strategy in North America, Europe, and the rest of the West. Headquartered in Tokyo, DeNA has offices and studios in 12 cities across eight countries with over 2,000 employees and has delivered nearly a dozen titles that hit the top-30 grossing charts on the U.S. App Store and U.S. Google Play. In addition to launching hits such as Blood Brothers and Rage of Bahamut, DeNA currently develops and publishes mobile games for popular entertainment franchises such as Star Wars, Marvel, Transformers, and Final Fantasy. DeNA reported revenue of $1.8 billion dollars and operating profit of $524 million dollars in the fiscal year ending March 2014. It recently announced that it will help make mobile games based on Nintendo franchises.
Asako joined DeNA West in 2011, serving as chief financial officer before moving to the role of CEO in 2013. Previously, Asako was CFO at MediciNova, Inc., from 2005 to 2011. Prior to MediciNova, Asako worked at KPMG and Arthur Anderson. Michael Metzger of Mesa Global will interview him onstage.
Matt Wolf, global head of gaming at Coca-Cola. He is responsible for the company’s gaming strategy, partnerships, and initiatives across all brands. In this role, Wolf identifies opportunities to authentically integrate the company’s brands into gaming culture, sharing value to the gaming community while driving brand loyalty and building company business.
He has over two decades of video game industry experience to lead the company into all forms of gaming including esports, mobile, social, and console. As a video game industry veteran, entrepreneur, and Primetime Emmy Award winner, he has helped shape the way consumers play by contributing through key roles in creative development, marketing, and business/content strategy.
Chris Fralic, partner at First Round Capital. Chris Fralic is an investor in tech and game companies. He joined First Round Capital in 2006 and is based in its New York office. He has focused on a number of First Round’s investments in gaming, including Roblox and Mobcrush. Chris has over 25 years of technology industry experience, including significant Internet sales and business development roles since 1996. Most recently, he was VP of business development for Delicious and spent six years at eBay in sales and business development. He’ll be speaking on a panel on investing in games.
Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Glu Mobile. De Masi has been in the spotlight ever since the meteoric success of the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood mobile game. His company is also working on games based on celebrities Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Is this the path to mobile dominance?
Brianna Wu, head of development at Giant Spacekat. Her team created the mobile game Revolution 60 last year, but Wu gained more notoriety as a vocal opponent of Gamergate, the gamer-rage movement that targets women such as Wu with a lot of Internet hatred (including attacking a number of game developers while claiming it was about “ethics in journalism.”) She has since become a major figure in the feminist movement to make gaming more accepting of women and female game characters.
Emily Greer, head of Kongregate. Greer cofounded Kongregate with her brother, Jim, as an online site for indie games. They sold the business to game retail giant GameStop, and Greer is now taking Kongregate into mobile.
Rajesh Rao, CEO of GameTantra and Dhruva Interactive. Rao founded Dhruva Interactive as India’s first major game company in 1997. He developed the business over the years with work-for-hire on titles such as Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport. More recently, he started the GameTantra incubator for Indian game companies.
Jessica Rovello, CEO of Arkadium. Rovello cofounded Arkadium as a casual-game company back in 2001. It bootstrapped the business into a major online casual-game maker and expanded into Windows mobile. But the Russia-Ukraine crisis caught the studio in Crimea by surprise. Arkadium had to shut down the office and relocate it, and Rovello and her husband, Kenny Rosenblatt, swapped the top job earlier this year, making Rovello one of the few top executives in gaming who’s a woman. And she was responsible for salvaging the company’s fortunes in Eastern Europe.
Ian Sherr, executive editor of Cnet. Sherr has covered games and tech news at places such as Cnet and the Wall Street Journal. We’ll have him ask astute questions of our speakers as a moderator. He previously moderated sessions with Kabam’s Kent Wakeford and the Entertainment Software Association’s Mike Gallagher.
Mike Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA. The game industry’s trade association is back at GamesBeat’s big event as well. Gallagher is the spokesman for the game industry, and he always has something to say about its direction and growth.
Kate Edwards, executive director at the International Game Developers Association. Edward represents the game developers of the world, and she has emerged as a voice of for diversity, creativity, and fairness in what has been a wild and raucous business.
Our GamesBeat 2015 advisory board includes:
- Ophir Lupu, head of video games at United Talent Agency
- Jay Eum, managing director at TransLink Capital
- Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures
- Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
- Reinout te Brake, CEO of GetSocial
- Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors
Thanks to the following industry leaders for supporting GamesBeat 2015: Game Insight as Featured Partner; Microsoft as Platinum Partner; RockYou and AppLovin as Gold Partners; TrialPay as Silver Partner, and PlayPhone, Fuel Powered, and Bluestacks as Event Partners.
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