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GamesBeat Summit 2021 is a digital online-only event taking place on April 28 and April 29 as our third virtual conference in a year.

We’re looking forward to getting together in the physical world or in the metaverse one day, but in the meantime, we’ve learned how to deliver a good experience with an online event.

I’ve included the full agenda below and will update it as we fill in the final names. We’ve got 87 speakers at the moment and 45 of them — about 52% — come from diverse backgrounds. We’ve got top speakers like Bobby Kotick of Activision Blizzard, Phil Spencer of Microsoft, and Laura Miele of Electronic Arts. And we have others you haven’t heard about who are making a difference in the ranks.

This is our most diverse event ever, and it will be the first one with a member of the U.S. Congress — Yvette Clarke, Democrat from New York’s 9th District. She will join Stanley Pierre-Louis of the Entertainment Software Association and Laila Shabir, CEO of Girls Make Games for a talk on the importance of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education for gaming.

We’ve also confirmed our awesome emcees Kahlief Adams of Spawn on Me and Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games. Rene will moderate our second annual Women in Gaming Breakfast with speakers that include Samantha Ryan of Electronic Arts and Brenda Romero of Romero Games.

Above: Yvette Clarke is the U.S. Congresswoman from the 9th District of New York.

Image Credit: Yvette Clarke

Since our last post, we’ve added a lot of speakers including Karthik Bala of Velan Studios, Samir Agili of Tilting Point, tech futurist Cathy Hackl, Ken Martin of GreenPark Sports, Kimberly Voll of the Fair Play Alliance, James Zhang of Fifth Era and Concept Art House, Tim O’Brien of Scopely, Amir Rahimi of Scopely, Eric Seufert of Mobile Game Dev Memo, former NBCUniversal Games head Chris Heatherly, Jon Radoff of Beamable, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, Tammy McDonald, and Gabby Dizon of Yield Guild Games.

Diversity, inclusion, and mental health challenges are going to be big topics for discussion. And we’ll explore how games can keep their historic growth going and at the same time explore new parts of the business including blockchain and nonfungible tokens, the post-IDFA world, augmented and virtual reality, and the metaverse. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities will open with a talk on the explosion of opportunities that come from having an unprecedented amount of money coming into the industry through investments, public offerings, and acquisitions.

We want to continue our reputation as the most intimate gaming event where business meets passion. Our event will include fireside chats, panels, and small-group roundtables. We’ll provide Q&A sessions for VIP attendees, and a way for attendees to network with each other and make new connections. We have a wide range of partners including the International Game Developers Association and Women in Gaming International. And our sponsors include Lego Ventures, Anzu, Xsolla, Jam City, Adjust, Accenture, Rogue Games, Epic Games, Scopely, Singtel, the Entertainment Software Association, Wildlife, Perforce, Outfit7, and more.

For attendees, you’ll be getting invitations to join using the email you used to register. If you upgrade to VIP, you’ll be able to join things like our GamesBeat Slack (which we’ve already started), one-on-one meetings in Grip, roundtables, and our Zoom Q&A sessions with our speakers.

Day one (April 28, 2021)

Above: Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnel/VentureBeat

8 a.m.

Tutorial for watching and participating in the event

8:10 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.


Emcee Kahlief Adams, Spawn on Me

Dean Takahashi of GamesBeat

8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.

Gaming’s time to shine

Michael Pachter, managing director at Wedbush Securities and an analyst for the games industry for 20 years, will talk about
what it means to have so much money coming into the game business at all levels.

Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities

8:40 a.m – 9:00 a.m.

Scaling creativity through the Scopely Operating System

Join Scopely Chief Business Officer Aaron Loeb and moderator Dean Takahashi for a conversation on how game companies can maximize creativity among rapidly growing global teams.

Aaron Loeb, Scopely

Andrea Rene

Above: Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games

Image Credit: What’s Good Games

Moderator: Dean Takahashi, GamesBeat

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Enabling the next generation of leaders

Game director Brenda Romero of Romero Games and technical director Sushama Chakraverty of Prodigy Education examine the role of leadership in the game industry through the lens of their own intertwining careers.

Brenda Romero, Romero Games

Moderator: Sushama Chakraverty, Prodigy Education

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Diving into digital humans with Epic Games

Join Vladimir Mastilovic and Paul Doyle of Epic Games and Wanda Meloni of M2 Insights for a discussion on the evolution of digital humans and how MetaHuman Creator simplifies the creation of unique, convincing digital humans.

These people are not people. They MetaHumans.

Above: These people are not people. They MetaHumans.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Paul Doyle, Epic Games

Vladimir Mastilović, Epic Games

Moderator: Wanda Meloni, M2 Insights

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

How learning through play intersects with gaming

Rob Lowe, Lego Ventures

Karsten Lund, Director, Light Brick Studio

Moderator: Keza MacDonald, Guardian

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Magic Meets the Measured: striking the right balance to make great games

Chris DeWolfe, CEO of Jam City, talks about striking the right balance in taking care of employees, taking advantage of growth opportunities during the pandemic, and doing the right things for gamers.

Chris DeWolfe, Jam City

Moderator: Dean Takahashi, GamesBeat

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Game VCs who bring the value of operating experience to investing

Game VCs who are former operators at companies talk about the value — and the challenges — that they can bring to the table in helping startups grow.

Andrew Sheppard, Transcend Fund

Jens Hilgers, Bitkraft Ventures

Ed Fries, 1Up Ventures

Moderator: Eric Goldberg, Playable Worlds

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

What IDFA changes mean for the game industry

Apple is requiring users to opt-in for sharing their private info on iOS, and that’s going to affect the ability for mobile game makers to target ads at gamers. What comes next?

Eric Seufert, Mobile Game Dev Memo

Moderator: Dean Takahashi, GamesBeat

12:00 pm -12:30 pm

The next generation of mobile game development

With more and more individuals turning to games amidst a global pandemic, the importance of mobile gaming is at an unprecedented height. But how does mobile gaming keep up with other platforms? Publishers talk about empowering the next generation of developers.

Victor Lazarte, Wildlife Studios

Ken Martin, GreenPark Sports

Samir Agili, Tilting Point

Moderator: TBD

12:30 p.m. -1:10 p.m.

The post-pandemic world of gaming

Above: Kahlief Adams of Spawn on Me.

Image Credit: Spawn On Me

Bobby Kotick, chairman and CEO of Activision Blizzard, will speak at one of our events for the first time in a fireside chat about the acceleration of games into the top tier of all entertainment. But what comes next? And how will we navigate 2021 and beyond?

Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard

Moderator: Dean Takahashi, GamesBeat

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Roundtable (invite for VIP attendees)

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Your Culture isn’t what you think it is

Caroline Stokes, Forward

Roundtables 2 and 3: TBD

1:10 p.m.-1:40 p.m.

Team Xbox on gaming for everyone

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer will lead a discussion about the company’s journey to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. The panelists will explore the challenges of ensuring that gaming is inclusive for all players and that the game industry welcomes all creators.

Agnes Kim, Microsoft

Esteban Lora, Microsoft

Cierra McDonald, Microsoft

Moderator: Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft

1:40 p.m. -2 p.m.

Above: Phil Spencer runs all of gaming at Microsoft.

Image Credit: AIAS

The future of accessibility in the game industry

Daniel Melville was born without an arm. But he has managed to become a gamer as well as an ambassador for Open Bionics, which recently produced a Metal Gear-themed bionic arm for him. He’ll discuss this and other themes about accessibility and inclusion in the game industry with Keisha Howard of Sugar Gamers.

Daniel Melville, Open Bionics

Moderator: Keisha Howard, Sugar Gamers

2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Changing the game

Robert Antokol, CEO of Playtika, and Michael Metzger, partner at Drake Star Partners, will talk about Playtika’s journey from launch, to expansion into casual games and recent public offering.  Robert will discuss Playtika’s Boost Platform and acquisition of independent gaming studios as well as share his vision for Playtika in the years to come.

Robert Antokol, Playtika

Moderator: Michael Metzger, Drake Star Partners

2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

STEAM, why it matters to video games, diversity, the future workforce, and the economy

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education is not only critical to the success of video game industry, but also to creating meaningful opportunities for people from different backgrounds and to American competitiveness. This panel will discuss the increasingly important role of STEAM in the overall American economic landscape, its impact on the video game industry, and youth leadership.

Laila Shabir, Girls Make Games

Yvette Clarke, U.S. Congresswoman from New York’s 9th District

Moderator: Stanley Pierre-Louis, Entertainment Software Association

3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

What to expect in a post-pandemic gaming world

Join Frank Azor, AMD’s Chief Architect of Gaming Solutions and Marketing, as he shares thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to impact the gaming industry, and how companies and developers are adapting to that change.

Frank Azor, AMD

Moderator: N’Gai Croal, Hit Detection

3:30 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.

Burnout: What it is and what we can do

A lot of people are suffering from burnout as the pandemic and quarantine continue into year two. What is burnout (beyond exhaustion and overwork)? This game-focused talk will detangle and explain the aspects of burnout, and provide actionable, practical steps for addressing it inside your studio and workplace.

Raffael Boccamazzo, Take This

Laura Miele is chief studios officer at EA.

Above: Laura Miele is chief studios officer at EA.

Image Credit: EA

3:50 p.m. – 4:20 p.m.

A strategy for a global gaming business

Mike Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisers will interview Simon Zhu, general manager at NetEase, about the company’s approach to the gaming industry. They will talk about NetEase’s focus on quality as well as its investments in Bungie, Theorycraft, Behaviour Interactive, and Quantic Dream.

Simon Zhu, NetEase

Moderator: Mike Vorhaus

4:20 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

Designing blockbuster games infused with diversity

What happens when you start designing a major video game and try to infuse diversity throughout the characters and environment? Halley Gross — a seasoned Hollywood writer on shows such as Westworld participated in such as project as the co-writer for The Last of Us Part II. The game won more than 215 awards for Game of the Year. She shares some of the lessons she learned about writing blockbuster narratives with an inclusive lens.

Halley Gross

Moderator: Dean Takahashi

4:50 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.

Why gaming M&A and investments have exploded and show no signs of slowing

M&A, public offerings, and investments have exploded for games during the pandemic. We’ll have a fireside chat with Lars Wingefors, CEO of Embracer Group, which has been the most active of all game company acquirers.

Lars Wingefors, Embracer Group

Moderator: Nick Tuosto, Liontree

5:20 p.m.-6:20 p.m.

Reception and networking on Clubhouse

Hosts Jon Radoff and Dean Takahashi

Day two (April 29)

Above: GamesBeat Summit 2021 speakers.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

8:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Women in gaming breakfast

Samantha Ryan, EA

Brenda Romero, Romero Games

Moderator: Andrea Rene

9:30 am – 9:40 am


Andrea Rene, What’s Good Games

9:40 am – 9:45 am

Opening comments

Mike Minotti

9:45 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

It takes a village

The game industry hasn’t always been kind to its own. And as a result, it has lost members to suicide. Mark Chandler of the International Games Summit on Mental Health Awareness and Jason Docton of Rise Above the Disorder will talk about what could be done so the game industry and gamers take care of their own better.

Mark Chandler, The International Games Summit on Mental Health Awareness

Jason Docton, Rise Above the Disorder

10:05 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.

How to do remote game development

When the world went remote, game development companies knew how to make it work. Many have been coordinating remote contributors for years. But with everyone at home, demands for media and games have dramatically increased. Our panel will discuss how to overcome challenges and build better games.

Glen Schofield, Striking Distance Studios

Karthik Bala, Velan Studios

Moderator: Brad Hart, CTO of Perforce

10:25 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Pulling the future from the cloud

Tim Guhl of Singtel and Lisa Cosmas Hanson of Niko Partners talk about the opportunities in gaming that will depend on 5G networks, including augmented reality, low-latency multiplayer games, and esports.

Tim Guhl, Singtel
Moderator: Lisa Cosmas Hanson, Niko Partners

10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Making great games is only going to get more complicated

Laura Miele started her career in a game studio 25 years ago and today she is leading one of the largest collectives of game creators in the world at Electronic Arts. EA’s 20+ global studios. Geoff Keighley, creator of The Game Awards, will talk with Miele about the ever-changing world of game development and how she navigates through the internal and external challenges to deliver the best possible games to players.

Laura Miele, Electronic Arts

Moderator: Geoff Keighley

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Advertising in games: Tapping into the next wave

Brands are finally realizing the potential of gaming and are ready to treat it as an advertising medium. This panel will explain the evolution of advertising in games and why brands are now finally looking at games as an advertising category and what is on the horizon.

Ronnie Nelis, Lion Castle

Itamar Benedy, Anzu

Gabrielle Heyman, Zynga

Moderator: Steve Peterson, StoryPhorce

11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Representation in-game matters, and it starts with developers

Nearly half of all gamers now identify as female. But in the development community, female representation is still sorely lacking. With such a skewed balance among the people who make our games, how can we make sure we’re meeting the needs of all our players, who are increasingly expressing their needs to see themselves represented in the games they play? Hear from top female development leads across Activision Blizzard about addressing the gender gap in the games, and on the teams who make them.

Jennifer Oneal, Blizzard Entertainment

Lydia Bottegoni, Blizzard Entertainment

Nour Polloni, Studio Head, Beenox

Moderator: Eunice Lee, Activision

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Roundtable (for VIP attendees)

NFTs and games 101

Nonfungible tokens have taken the art and music collectible worlds by storm, and now they’re ready to disrupt games. Are NFTs the next big thing to monetize games, or are they a flash in the pan?

Chris Heatherly

Jon Radoff, Beamable

James Zhang, Fifth Era

Gabby Dizon, Yield Guild Games

GamesBeat Summit 2021

Above: GamesBeat Summit 2021 speakers.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Roundtable (for VIP attendees)

Understanding the future of consolidation, expanding capital pools, and hyperactivity in gaming M&A

Hemal Thakur, Goldman Sachs

Alina Soltys, Quantum Tech Partners

12:15 p.m. – 12:35 p.m.

How to do M&A right

Scopely acquired FoxNext Games in January 2020. The companies set a goal of a seamless merging of the two teams. It turns out that, during the pandemic, M&A has exploded in the game industry. Two Scopely leaders will talk about the lessons learned.

Tim O’Brien, Scopely

Amir Rahimi, Scopely

Moderator: Nick Tuosto, Liontree

12:35 p.m. – 12:55 p.m.

Scaling the right way: When a startup is no longer a startup

Katie Jansen, chief marketing officer at AppLovin, and Katie Madding, chief product officer at Adjust, share similar stories in their respective careers, with both having joined their current companies early on, and then having witnessed the trajectories of those companies skyrocket in a relatively short amount of time. Learn about their unique journeys in navigating these exciting, yet uncharted periods of hyper-growth.

Katie Jansen, AppLovin

Moderator: Katie Madding, Adjust

1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

The past, present, and future of XR and mental health

Since the onset of COVID-19, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted. This is particularly evident for front line workers, where one-third have reported elevated levels of mental distress. This panel will bring together professionals in multiple sectors—Kelli Dunlap (Kentlands Psychotherapy, Take This), Noah Falstein (The Inspiracy), and Brennan Spiegel (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center)—to delve deeper into how this rapidly evolving technology is being used to directly help mental health.

Kelli Dunlap, American University

Noah Falstein, The Inspiracy

Brennan Spiegel, Cedars-Sinai

Moderator: Susanna Pollack, Games for Change

1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

How Iron Galaxy Studios avoids crunch

One of Iron Galaxy’s Studios’ many core values is people – the strength of their team is the foundation of their success. They focus first and foremost on the well-being of their employees, making sure staff feel cared for and valued. Co-CEO’s Adam Boyes and Chelsea Blasko can share their leadership philosophies and how they continue to offer a healthy work/life balance.

Chelsea Blasko, Iron Galaxy

Adam Boyes, Iron Galaxy

Moderator: Eve Crevoshay, Take This

Above: GamesBeat Summit 2021 speakers

Image Credit: GamesBeat

2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

A game changing experience for everyone

This panel will discuss issues of digital civility and the challenges to getting through to the next level as games become even more mainstream. What challenges need to be addressed in order for the gaming industry to seize the exponential opportunity at hand?

Christian Kelly, Accenture

Laura Higgins, Roblox

Kimberly Voll, Fair Play Alliance

Moderator: Seth Schuler, Accenture

2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

How global publishers can differentiate themselves?

What are the challenges of global publishing? How do you use IP? How can you adapt to new platforms, app stores, business models, and regional markets?

Chris Hewish, Xsolla

Matt Casamassina, Rogue Games

Anthony Crouts, Tencent

Moderator: Lisa Cosmas Hanson, Niko Partners

3:15 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

When is it time to launch a new IP?

Outfit7 has one of the biggest intellectual properties for games and entertainment with Talking Tom. It has created lots of apps and games based on it. It has endless runner games, virtual life simulations, videos, and others that tap into Tom’s personality. But the company also needs to create new IPs for the future. What’s the right time to do that and how?

Ante Odić, Senior VP of Product, at Outfit7

Moderator: TBD

3:35 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.

Above: GamesBeat Summit 2021 speakers.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Brands x Creators: Collaborating to scale economic opportunity for everyone

Celebrity influencers have come out of the woodworks in the past decade, but not everybody can be the next Ninja. What can the industry do to create the next generation of streamers who can make a living at their trade? We’ll explore this in a panel on getting paid as a streamer.

Stu Grubbs, Lightstream

Natasha Zinda, ZombaeKillz

Moderator: Andrea Rene, What’s Good Game

3:55 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.

Brands and the metaverse

We’ve been stuck in the Zoomverse during the pandemic, and we can’t wait for an actual metaverse to arrive. Gaming will likely be the big draw for consumers. And if the consumers come, the brands will follow. We’ll ask some brands if they believe in the metaverse.

Ryan Mullins, Aglet

Ian Fitzpatrick, New Balance

Perry Nightingale, WPP

Moderator: Cathay Hackl

4:25 p.m. – 4:40 p.m.

Visionary Awards

Tammy McDonald

4:40 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Closing session

Dean Takahashi

4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Networking on Clubhouse

Hosts Jon Radoff and Dean Takahashi


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