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Lightspeed Venture Partners and GamesBeat—together with industry-leading judges—have launched Game Changers, an annual top game startup list to showcase emerging, innovative gaming and interactive technology companies.

Winners of the inaugural Game Changers program will receive widespread media coverage through GamesBeat, access to an exclusive growing Game Changers community, and 1:1 mentoring and interactions with industry leaders across gaming, technology, and interactive media. Each category will also see one standout winner that will receive a special prize.

Award honorees can enjoy all these benefits free of charge, and will not give up equity in their company in the process. There is also no requirement for startup representatives to appear in person.

Apply or nominate today

Peer nominations and self-submissions for Game Changers 2024 are now open online.

Gaming industry professionals can nominate startups or apply on behalf of their own company. The deadline for all submissions is Sunday, October 1, 2023.

Winners will be announced in October and highlighted at the GamesBeat Summit Next conference on October 24 – 25 in San Francisco.


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Supported by an unparalleled group of industry leaders

Game Changers judges include todays leaders in gaming and interactive media.

To source candidates for Game Changers, GamesBeat writers and Lightspeed investors comb through the online submissions, and provide a narrowed list of candidates to a panel of independent expert judges. Judges will then vote on the final candidates in one round of voting, with tiebreakers as needed. And who better to crown tomorrow’s leaders than today’s?

That’s why the judging panel includes leading gaming executives and operators with senior leadership experience across Activision Blizzard, Amazon, Animoca, ByteDance, DeepMind, Disney Accelerator, Google, Epic Games, Electronic Arts, Goldman Sachs, Kabam, Krafton, McKinsey & Co., Meta, Microsoft, Niantic, Oculus, Riot Games, Roblox, Stanford University, Take-Two Interactive, Tencent, TikTok, Unity, Valve, Xbox, YouTube Gaming, Zynga, and others.

Our Game Changers judges are top leaders in gaming.

Game Changers judges include today’s leaders in gaming and interactive media.

  • Anna Sweet, Chief Executive Officer of Bad Robot Games
  • Ben Feder, Managing Partner of Tirta Ventures
  • Bonnie Rosen, General Manager of Disney Accelerator
  • Danny Lange, Vice President of BI & AI of Google
  • Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer of GamesBeat
  • Holly Liu, Co-Founder of Kabam
  • John Hanke, Chief Executive Officer of Niantic
  • John Thompson, Fr. Chairman of Microsoft
  • Ken Wee, Chief Strategy Officer of Activision Blizzard
  • Kylan Gibbs, Chief Product Officer of Inworld AI
  • Leo Olebe, Global Head of Gaming at YouTube
  • Manuel Bronstein, Chief Product Officer at Roblox
  • Maria Park, Vice President of Corporate Development at Krafton
  • Michael Chow, Chief Executive Officer at The Believer Company
  • Moritz Baier-Lentz, Partner & Head of Gaming at Lightspeed
  • Ryan Wyatt, Fr. President at Polygon Labs
  • V Pappas, Fr. Chief Operating Officer at TikTok

Guiding principles

Game Changers is a recognition of the explosion of game startups and game venture investment funds in recent years, even in the midst of difficult economic times. We want to draw attention to the companies that deserve recognition and better reach, and so we hope to tap the combined analytical and journalistic reach of Lightspeed and GamesBeat.

A total of 25 companies will be selected across five major categories:

  • Game studios,
  • Gaming platforms (e.g., user-generated content or social),
  • 3D technologies (including AI),
  • Extended reality (i.e., AR/VR), and
  • Blockchain & web3.

To be eligible, companies have to:

  1. Be part of the gaming industry (see five categories above),
  2. Be no more than five years old, and
  3. Have no more than 50 full-time employees

Our goal is to create an annual list that is unique, original, and valuable for the industry. The process will be fair and transparent. Nominations will be globally available (self-nominations are possible as well). Peers can nominate each other, and our hand-selected judges will guide the selection process.

In addition to a startup’s vision, caliber, and execution, we will also focus on the team’s diversity, ensuring the inclusion of historically marginalized people (including women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community).

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.