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We’ve announced a number of speakers and are close to locking up our agenda for the first-ever GamesBeat Summit. Here’s our latest rundown of the themes we’ll be discussing at the summit, which features fireside talks, keynotes, networking time, and small roundtable discussions in the beautiful atmosphere of the Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito, Calif., on May 5 and May 6.

Request an invite now and see if you qualify.

Previously announced speakers include David Haddad, the executive vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment; Peter Levin, the president of interactive media and games at Lionsgate; John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies; Jeff Lyndon, cofounder and president of iDreamsky Technology; Yoichi Wada, CEO of Shinra Technologies; Jacob Navok, senior vice president of Shinra Technologies; and Misha Lyalin, chief executive of Cut the Rope creator ZeptoLab.

The talks revolve around our main theme: the bold ideas in gaming.

Gaming is growing on all fronts. The market passed $78 billion globally in 2014, according to advisory firm Digi-Capital. It is also evolving, as much in terms of player experience as in terms of the underlying technology or business mechanics that power the industry. Mobile is expected to surpass consoles in revenue generation sometimes this year. Traditional powerhouse Nintendo finally made its commitment to smartphones games clear with a partnership with DeNA. More of the top brands and entertainment franchises now manage to carve significant slices of the gaming pie.

So where should investors and executives place their bets in 2015? Which market, games, categories, and territories will give the best return on investment? What are the bold ideas and landmark deals that will help your company catch the wave and grow into 2015?

Top subthemes for our boardroom sessions, or roundtables of about 30 people each, will cover these topics:

John Riccitiello, former CEO of EA, is now the head of Unity.

Above: John Riccitiello, the former CEO of EA, is now the head of Unity.

Image Credit: Michael O'Donnell/VentureBeat

Platforms: From games as products to games as services — and the underlying plumbing

Which platform has legs? All of them? As games shift from products to services, companies are making much bigger investments. As they do so, they want a stable and growing platform, not an unpredictable or weak one. Do exclusives make sense in an age where the goal is to publish on every platform? How do universal tools and cloud infrastructure liberate developers and cut the costs of switching platforms? How are the platforms making a difference with tools, discovery, and social virality? Which platforms rule in different territories?

  • What are the safest bets and which ones are too good to be true? Which platform features are best kept in-house by the top studios?
  • How are various studios reaching the balance right for them in budget, manpower and resources between creating the game itself and integrating the supporting infrastructure of services?
  • Is a convergence of mobile, PC, and consoles something you should expect?
  • Distribution platforms, from mobile app stores to Steam, have accelerated the growth of the entire market and provide global exposure to any developer. Which moves are expected from these gatekeepers in 2015 and beyond? Can ad networks compete if app stores start promoting apps themselves to get an even larger piece of the pie?

International expansion: The world is a village

David Haddad, executive vice president and general manager of  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Above: David Haddad, executive vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

Image Credit: WBIE

A great success in video games usually means overcoming borders and having a global impact. Console games have been planning on a global scale for years now, but have quickly been matched by mobile games. Now, mobile app stores and smart lifetime monetization allow ever-smaller outfits to reach global audiences in a matter of weeks. Yet every geography can respond differently to different games. Most marketers also find it increasingly expensive to acquire new users, making it all harder to scale up without losses.

  • How are the top publishers making sure their games appeal to local audiences on a global scale? Will reaching audiences across borders be easier on mobile than it is on the web or consoles?
  • Which are the best new partners for each new geography to distribute a game, market it and monetize it in a new local culture?
  • Which markets are saturated? Which ones are only starting to grow in users and revenues?
  • How do you go from West to East, or East to West? And what does the future of localization look like?
  • Which are the local-only successes of gaming, and are they sustainable examples? Can local and global games coexist?

Brands and franchises

Bigger brands are eyeing mobile games. Celebrities, movie studios, and other franchises owners are rushing into the market to license their IP and profit from the now ripe mobile gaming market. Valuable IP licensing deals can make millions but video games spin offs are notorious for being double-edged swords when not executed properly. Large consumer brands are also getting more savvy at tapping the potential of games for engagement with mobile users beyond banner ads. While top brands are able to design their own games, most decide to offer relevant rewards within games, or engage in natural interactions the same way they are adopting instant messaging marketing.

  • Which studios and platforms will benefit from this added marketing muscle? Will these games grow into a significant share of the market?
  • What makes games great when they extend an existing brand or story universe? How can the game capture its intended audience?
  • Brands, celebrities and games have their own audiences; what are the successful synergies that keep users coming back? The worst failures?
  • As time spent on games increases, they represent ever-more interesting opportunities for brand marketers to engage with qualified audiences. What do they expect in order to increase their spend?

Monetization, user acquisition, and retention

In most saturated markets, user acquisition and retention gets increasingly tricky and expensive. Yet most successful games claim hundreds of millions of players and are able to heavily invest and keep eCPM high across the landscape. The best monetization strategies mix advertising and in-app purchases across elaborate audience segments and a commitment to agile and consistent optimization guarantees maximized returns to the publishers.

  • What are the smart tactics and powerful technologies that keep user acquisition budgets in check yet optimize efficiency? And what signs trigger heavier user investment to maximize ROI?
  • Growing UA budgets mean great monetization opportunities across the ecosystem. How significant is this part of the monetization potential of a game, and who’s making the most of advertising downloads to increase revenues?
  • Video previews, word of mouth, social features, ad creative A/B testing, channel attribution, retention strategies. Which formats and techniques yield the best conversions into engaged long-term players?
  • How do you increase monetization through retention and engagement?
  • How can you win at mobile monetization, and what tactics can be applied to other platforms to maximize revenue?

Understanding gamers

The industry is flourishing. But as it increases its mindshare in mainstream culture, it also has to reconcile “hardcore” gamers with the more casual population playing on mobile and adapt to wider and more diverse demographics. Video streaming of games is exploding, powered by everything from international championships to casual walk-throughs. Twitch’s acquisition, the growth of e-sports, and casual gameplay streaming stars are showing the potential of games for passive entertainment on top of active gameplay.

  • Who are gamers? What are the categories, buzz words and profiles that matter in this fast growing new landscape?
  • Have game industry controversies affected the marketplace or only the industry professionals?
  • The communities around gaming are among the most tight-knit and engaged online; how are the publishers and brands leveraging these millions of fans?
  • Who are the opinion makers that matter when everyone broadcasts?

Deals: Follow the money

The gaming industry keeps seeing huge deals, from Microsoft’s $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang to Amazon’s $970 million purchase of Twitch. Digi-Capital reports that $24 billion in deals were executed in 2014. It feels like a global chess game.

Smart monetization strategies have turned the most successful studios into powerhouses in their own rights, attracting the attention of the traditional entertainment industry, consumer brands, and overseas giants. Those forces are fueling a virtuous cycle of deals, investments and mindshare in the public eye. Crowdfunding also helps independent studios get games in the hands of players without the need for institutional investors.

  • As more money flows into the landscape, who will be successful?
  • Is there enough demand for more publishers to plan IPOs in the mobile gaming market?
  • Will crowdfunding reach new levels in gaming as players show more loyalty to studios, designers, or franchises? And what happens when promises aren’t delivered?
  • How can your company find the best deal?

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