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GamesBeat Summit Next: Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, Niantic’s John Hanke, Xbox’s Sarah Bond

Join gaming leaders online at GamesBeat Summit Next this upcoming November 9-10. Learn more about what comes next. 


Sometimes you need people to inspire you to greater heights and to believe that some amazing technology is just around the corner. That’s what we’ll celebrate with our inspiring talks at our GamesBeat Summit Next event. And sometimes you need someone to be brutally honest and throw some cold water on crazy ideas that are overhyped and scammy.

I suspect we’ll be hearing both of those messages of our event (you can sign up here) on November 9-10 with some of the most interesting pioneers of the gaming industry. As the word “next” implies, this is about the ideas on the edge of the industry that could expand games behind its natural borders as the growth from the pandemic comes down to earth. I’m happy to announce some amazing speakers, but I’ll leave to you to figure out who will inspire you or slap you in the face with reality.

Tim Sweeney is the outspoken CEO of Epic Games.

Above: Tim Sweeney is the outspoken CEO of Epic Games.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Our newest speakers include Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive. A partner in ZelnickMedia since 2001, became chairman of Take-Two in March 2007 and CEO in January 2011. With studios and labels such as 2K, Rockstar Games, Hangar 13, and more, Take-Two has amassed some of the most amazing properties in video games. They include Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2, Mafia, Civilization, and 2K NBA. Zelnick has to oversee studios that make tough calls about funding triple-A titles for as long as seven years. And he has to decide whether to embrace new technologies or let someone else go first into the great unknown. Again, I’ll let you guess whether he’ll throw cold water on nonfungible tokens (NFTs) in games.

Sarah Bond is corporate vice president at Microsoft Xbox.

Above: Sarah Bond is corporate vice president at Microsoft Xbox.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Not to fear. We’ll also have the advocates of blockchain gaming such as Yat Siu of Animoca Brands (which raised $138 million at a $1 billion valuation), John Linden of Mythical Games (which raised $75 million), Jeff Zirlin of Sky Mavis (which raised $153 million at a nearly $3 billion valuation) and James Zhang of Concept Art House.

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Whether you favor one version of the future or just the status quo, we promise that you’ll have thought leadership and intelligent discussion in a very efficient way at GamesBeat Summit Next. I’m also happy to report that more than half of the 69 speakers we have so far come from diverse backgrounds.

Above: John Hanke is CEO and founder of Niantic.

Image Credit: Niantic

We’ll even have a debate about between former LucasArts exec Brooks Brown and NFT advocate David Kim of Wdny.io, which helps game companies launch projects on the Wax blockchain protocol, and Mitch Zamara of Million on Mars. That panel will discuss whether mainstream gamers will come to love NFTs and blockchain. Witek Radomski, chief technology officer of Enjin, will help us understand the blockchain as well, and Matthew Ball will do a fireside chat with Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou (one of the people behind NBA Top Shot, which has generated $780 million in NFT sales in the past year).

Roham Gharegozlou is CEO of Dapper Labs.

Above: Roham Gharegozlou is CEO of Dapper Labs.

Image Credit: Dapper Labs

We’re also delighted to have partnerships with Augmented World Expo, which enables us to co-stream their keynote with John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, on the future of augmented reality. And we are partnering with Nvidia’s GTC event. For both GTC and GamesBeat Summit Next, I will be moderating a panel with Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games; Christina Heller, CEO of Metastage; Morgan McGuire, chief scientist at Roblox; Jinsoo Jeon, vice president metaverse company at SK Telecom; Willim Cui, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Group at Tencent; Patrick Cozzi of Cesium; and Rev Lebaredian, vice president for the Omniverse at Nvidia.

Peter Moore, former leader at Sega, EA, and Microsoft, has joined the board at Nifty Games.

Above: Peter Moore, former leader at Sega, EA, and Microsoft, has joined the board at Nifty Games.

Image Credit: Nifty Games

I’ll talk with Matthew Ball of Epyllion, Anna Sweet of Bad Robot Games, Jacob Navok of Genvid Technologies, and former Rockstar designer Imran Sarwar about the Metaverse ETF, which lets you invest today in the companies that are building the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

I’ll be doing a fireside chat about the infrastructure of the metaverse with Roblox chief technology officer Dan Sturman, and I’ll discuss why gaming needs esports to succeed with Vindex CEO Mike Sepso.

We’ll turn the tables a bit and have Forte and Rally founder Kevin Chou moderate a panel of investors including Nick Tuosto of Griffin Gaming Partners and Liontree, Amy Wu of Lightspeed, and Jay Chi of Makers Fund — three of the biggest investors in gaming today. Tuosto will also moderate a talk with the deal maker at Microsoft’s Xbox division, Sarah Bond, corporate vice president.

Kevin Chou is CEO of Rally.

Above: Kevin Chou is founder of Forte and Rally.

Image Credit: Rally

Stanley Pierre-Louis of the Entertainment Software Association will moderate a session on social impact games with Jessica Lindl of Unity and David Washington of HiDef.

Amy Wu of Lightspeed Ventures will also quiz Piers Kicks of Bitkraft and Delphi Digital, Miko Matsumura of Gumi Cryptos Capital, and Gabby Dizon of Yield Guild Games about the play-to-earn opportunity. And Jon Brence will interview fellow influencer and new esports group owner Mari “Atomic Mari” Takahashi.

Seamus Blackley with his Feynman Van.

Above: Seamus Blackley with his Feynman Van.

Image Credit: Seamus Blackley

We also have Wanda Meloni of M2 talk about emerging gaming markets with Maria Kochmola, cofounder of The Games Fund; Salone Sehgal, partner at Lumikai; and Cordel Robbin-Coker, CEO of Carry1st.

Eve Crevoshay, executive director of game developer mental health nonprofit Take This, will moderate a session on how to build diversity and anti-harassment into a studio from the ground up with Don Bellenger, CEO of The Beauty Cult; Carolin Krenzer, cofounder of Trailmix; and Theron James, CEO of Wildseed Games.

Mari "AtomicMari" is co-owner of Spacestation Gaming.

Above: Mari “AtomicMari” is co-owner of Spacestation Gaming.

Image Credit: Spacestation Gaming

Emily Greer of Double Loop Games will have a conversation with Anat Shperling, CEO of Toya, about reaching new audiences through mobile games and Roblox. Our old friend Peter Moore of Unity will talk about joining the board of Nifty Games, a new sports game maker, with Nifty CEO Jon Middleton.

We’ve even got Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley to wax poetic about the 20th anniversary of the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox game console. Our emcees include Chris Mellisinos, who curated the Smithsonian’s exhibit on games, and Keisha Howard, founder of Sugar Gamers. And MIT Game Lab leader Riz Virk will moderate a roundtable on whether we’re living in a simulated universe.

Keisha Howard, Sugar Gamers

Above: Keisha Howard, Sugar Gamers

Image Credit: Sugar Gamers

Our format will be two days of online talks, prerecorded with Zoom Q&A for our VIP audience, and other intimate events such as roundtables and one-on-one sessions. Our attendees often include CEOs and high-level executives. We get a diverse lot of game developers, game publishers, marketers, investors, industry vendors, and other leaders with the best ideas and insights. And we will have a reception in-person in San Francisco for our VIP attendees.

Above: Jeff Grubb of GamesBeat dresses like this every day.

Image Credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat

We even expect to close out the event with a special podcast of the GamesBeat staff, which includes me, Mike Minotti, Jeff Grubb, and Rachel Kaser. Hope to see you there. I’m thankful for our great advisory board that helped us round up so many great speakers.

We’re still organizing the last of our talks and will post our agenda soon. And thanks to our sponsors that include Enjin, Nvidia, Wdny.io/Wax, Op Games, Irdeto by Denuvo, Gala Games and more. We’re glad to see them support our thought leadership events and analytical games journalism at GamesBeat.

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