One of the most interesting moments of our GamesBeat Summit 2023 conference will come in a conversation, or debate — on our online day on May 24 — between Sharon Tal Yguado, CEO of Astrid Entertainment, and Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox Entertainment.
They both have strong opinions about transmedia, or a blending of movies and games, which is a big part of our theme at our three-day summit that begins on Monday. And they don’t agree. This is just one of the reasons I’m so excited about our online day at the summit. We’ll have two days of in-person talks in Los Angeles on May 22 and May 23, followed by our online day on May 24. (You can use this code GBSDEANNEWS for a 40% discount on the entire event; check out the full agenda here).
I’ll also be holding a “watch party” during the online day. Ask me about how to join it on Twitter (deantak) or Facebook.
Tal Yguado comes from television and film, and she built studio divisions at Amazon and Fox. She spearheaded shows like The Walking Dead, The Boys, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The Wheel of Time, and Invincible. Pitchford is familiar to us not only as a magician but a creator of games such as The Borderlands series. Now he’s taking a crack at a Borderlands movie and more. Seeing these two trade observations is going to be a real treat — and a fiery one at that. Their key point of discussion is what comes first in turning a single intellectual property into a transmedia success.
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Our day will be expertly emceed by Chris Melissinos of AWS, a veteran at our GamesBeat Summit events.
The online show on May 24 starts out with a discussion between Yat Siu of Animoca Brands and Miko Matsumura of Gumi Cryptos Capital as they discuss the challenges for blockchain games in the wake of its hype and skepticism cycles.
We’ll hear from Chris Cocks, the CEO of Hasbro, about how an iconic toy company is taking brands like Nerf, Transformers, Monopoly, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering into the digital space as it moves on to its second 100 years of doing business. Michael Metzger of Drake Star Partners will pull a variety of questions out of his hat for Cocks, who will answer them all.
I laughed a bit when I saw the Insider’s headline about how “the metaverse is dead.” We’ll also get some perspective on that idea from someone with a completely different perspective in Japan. Hironao Kunimitsu, CEO of VR game company Thirdverse, will talk with me about why he still believes in the metaverse, and how VR games like X8 will get him there one step at a time.
Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive, is a notoriously button-down, no-nonsense leader. Mike Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisers didn’t get him to talk about Grand Theft Auto VI. But Vorhaus will disarm Zelnick a bit by getting him to talk about the risks he took in the early days of his career. It’s interesting to see how he made decisions and is still making some of the biggest bets in entertainment today.
And while it’s great to hear Zelnick talk about things like the metaverse and NFTs, it’s also interesting to hear what his employees think about the ideas that bubble up from the workers. We’ll hear Chanel Ward, director of diversity, equity & inclusion at Take-Two, moderate a panel with three leaders of the employee resource groups at Take-Two. Those have become critical voices for employees to be heard, especially when it comes to diversity issues and how to make games more appealing for all gamers.
The future of VR and the metaverse will remind us how our summit started out with a metaverse focus, and we’ll have GamesBeat’s Rachel Kaser moderate a fireside on this topic with Tommy Palm, CEO of Resolution Games. We will also hear some joint research from Tim Lion and Stephen Gray of Meta/Facebook Gaming and Alexis Pamboris of Newzoo as they studied gamer sentiments about the metaverse, with some surprising results given the wave of skepticism we have now.
And Shuchi Rana of ServiceNow will move our Metaverse Forum into a new chapter with a discussion about metaverse challenges with Nick Tornow, vice president of engineering at Roblox; Wagner James Au, author of Making a Metaverse That Matters; and Chris Brandt, CMO of Chipotle. They have a lot of strong opinions about how to move the metaverse forward, and they certainly don’t think it’s dead.
We veered off into an area of new voices with a discussion about how games can engage people to think more about climate change in a discussion between Sheridan Tatsuno, founder of Dreamscape Global, and Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change. And we’ll see how to think about bringing industries beyond games together with gaming talent to generate better results for climate action and to help enlist gamers in saving our planet.
As we head toward our ending, we’ll hear from John Needham, president of esports at Riot Games, and Jordan Fragen, GamesBeat writer, talk about why Riot Games loves esports. It’s been at it for more than a decade, and its League of Legends and Valorant esports programs have set industry standards for in-game integrations, scale, production value and brand partnerships. It’s a fascinating journey and it’s not over yet.
We’ll close the online day with the discussion between Tal Yguado, who left Amazon Studios to start her own game company Astrid Entertainment, and Pitchford, one of the most colorful CEOs in gaming as they debate the best way to find the magic with IPs built upon transmedia ambitions.
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