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GamesBeat Summit 2023 opening speech: The Next Level


May 22, 2023
GamesBeat Summit 2023 opening speech: The Next Level

Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

Here’s the speech that I gave at the opening of GamesBeat Summit 2023.

Thank you to our attendees as your energy makes me feel like a video game character. That said, I’m here in the flesh to show I am not an NPC. I am not a robot. I’m not a chatbot. I’m not Dean the Machine Learning.

Thank you for being here in person to hear inspiring and thoughtful talks about gaming. I am glad to have you in our community to show that the metaverse isn’t yet a replacement for being together in real life.

Jen Oneal, CEO of Magic Soup Games, is speaking at our 6th Women in Gaming Breakfast.

This is our 15th GamesBeat event in as many years. Thank you all for coming out to our sixth Women in Gaming breakfast and the third time we actually had real food.


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The gathering has become an important place to drink from the well of inspiration, and I’m happy that Visa stepped forward to sponsor this breakfast for the first time. Facebook Gaming is sponsoring our first-ever diversity in gaming breakfast tomorrow. Jam City is sponsoring our lunch, and Xsolla backed our reception.

Dean Takahashi plays Resolution Games' mixed reality title Spatial Ops.
Dean Takahashi plays Resolution Games’ mixed reality title Spatial Ops.

And to me, the presence of these sponsors and all others means that caring about diversity in gaming and telling those stories is good business.

More than 52% of our speakers here come from diverse backgrounds, a standard that we have held to for years now. We know that you’re not here to listen to the same stories from the same people. I have done this work for 27 years because everyone has a story in gaming, whether it’s Jamil Higley, who was the face for Alyx in Half-Life 2, or Stephanie Rogers, whose father and grandfather were both game developers.

I want to thank our sponsors. They are the reason that we are able to live up to our promise to offer you programming that is like no other gaming event.

I’m very proud that we have one of our best line-ups ever with 137 speakers across 52 sessions over three days. Two of the days are in person here at the Marina del Rey Marriott and one is an online day on Wednesday.

We’ve stacked each day with a beginning, middle, and end. And I hope you feel each day will start with a bang and build emotion all day long. We start with things like our breakfasts and end with some of the biggest names in all entertainment.

Chanel Ward moderates a panel on the power of DE&I ERGs.
Chanel Ward moderates a panel on the power of DE&I ERGs.

We’re still here to mark your progress and offer encouragement for entrepreneurs and builders and investors. Our theme for this event is The Next Level, which is all about rising above the turbulence.

At GamesBeat Summit 2023, we’ll explore how the gaming industry is moving to a new level where agility and adaptability are crucial for success in a business world that is in a constant state of chaos and disruption.

We can all celebrate as we witness gaming emerge from a subculture to a mass culture. But, as Leo Olebe will remind us, we don’t want the negative parts of that subculture to rise as well – like toxicity, sexism, racism, harassment, extremism, and bullying. And that’s why our subthemes like diversity, mental health, community and social responsibility matter as well.

We’ve got a lot of speakers who will try to tell us where the economy is going and where the gaming ecosystem is headed, as we often don’t know whether to step on the gas or hit the brakes. GamesBeat is a cross-section of all gaming because we want to get exposed to all the sectors that might pull us forward.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

All of us are always looking for that electricity in the air. Something magical – whether it’s generative AI or user-generated content – that will send us into the stratosphere. Let’s find that magic at GamesBeat Summit, where business meets passion.

While he was at EA, Michael Chang met Mark Otero at KlickNation at a GamesBeat event. EA acquired Otero’s company and turned it into Capital Games, which became famous for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. Chang is one of our advisers and Otero is speaking here today. And Galaxy of Heroes has generated $1.38 billion for Electronic Arts.

Rovio was recently acquired by Sega for $776 million. And Rovio raised $42 million years ago after Peter Vesterbacka met Rich Wong of Accel at our event. Tim Morton of Frost Giant Games got about 80% of his investors with assistance from GamesBeat. And we proactively introduced Richard Garfield’s Popularium to a dozen gaming VCs after writing about them.

Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio on the right.

I don’t want to create too much FOMO, but these events show that GamesBeat is part of the narrative. These are examples of our community in action and the kind of deals that can happen here in person. Every day, there’s a story in gaming like the one told in the Tetris movie, where Henk Rogers runs down the biggest business development deal of all time. We hope you can do those deals here.

Maybe we can find a new twist on an old narrative. Hollywood and games went through so many failed marriages when games were viewed as nerdy and Hollywood directors didn’t play games. Now we have successes like The Last of Us TV show on HBO. The Super Mario Bros. movie has crossed $1 billion in revenue, as has Hogwarts Legacy, Warner’s latest hit game.

We’re hitting this theme in a big way, and we’re winding up each day with a good Hollywood ending. We’ll close the day today with talks from Mike Pondsmith, creator of Cyberpunk, and Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead.

We’ll close tomorrow out with talks from David Haddad of Warner Bros. Games, a town hall session that features Sarah Anderson of Amazon Games, as well as our own Visionary Awards.

John Needham and Jordan Fragen talk about esports at Riot Games' headquarters.
John Needham and Jordan Fragen talk about esports at Riot Games’ headquarters.

And we’ll close out our online day with a talk by John Needham of Riot Games and a debate about the best way to pursue transmedia between Sharon Tal Yguado and Randy Pitchford. These ending talks represent our best hope for saving you from leaving early and getting stuck in LA traffic. And I hope you’ll join our watch party on Wednesday for the online sessions.

At our last GamesBeat Summit Next event, Bain estimated that the game economy would grow from around $200 billion to $300 billion in five years. That’s something to look forward to as we digest the meaning of stories like layoffs among the tech giants and the big gaming companies. For entertainment, the metaverse, blockchain, and the cloud, it’s a good bet that gaming will lead the way if there is a way to be found.

Our narrative at GamesBeat is to believe in this community, to believe in you, and that the people in this room will lead us to the fabled ideas of transmedia and the golden age of gaming.

Let’s remember that in the middle of COVID, games brought us joy. During the pandemic, we learned it was OK to say that we were not OK. And it became OK to say games helped us cope. The plague destigmatized virtual life and let us talk candidly about our mental health.

Sharon Tal Yguado and Randy Pitchford talk about the right way to do transmedia.
Sharon Tal Yguado and Randy Pitchford talk about the right way to do transmedia.

Sometimes we can’t get a break. We’re weathering a slowdown in the broader economy. We have a turbulent stock market, the war in Ukraine, inflation, a crypto winter, mixed game sales, a console cycle that has been hobbled by shortages, the end of Moore’s Law, and falling NFT prices.

In spite of all this, it is the heroes here in the room who invest at a time like this to keep it all going. And thank God we have Tears of the Kingdom.

Close to home, I’ve seen so many game journalism and tech journalism outlets lay off people and shut down altogether. We saw the collapse of E3, which was the center of the industry once upon a time. It has saddened me to see so many friends and colleagues looking for work, and it makes me appreciate the privilege of covering your stories for decades.

Latoya Peterson is cofounder and CXO at Glow-Up Games.
Latoya Peterson is cofounder and CXO at Glow Up Games.

That’s why I ask you to continue to support us. Your openness lets us do our jobs. We’re journalists. We are not fake news, sensationalists or AI. We believe in getting it right and covering gaming every day. We’re at our best when we tell people stories. It’s been a wonderful life, but imagine if we and the media at large weren’t here to bear witness to what you’re doing.

We believe that a commons, a safe space, a gathering place where we can discuss these tough things, is more important than ever. And so I welcome you to the openness of GamesBeat Summit 2023.

Every time we do one of these events, it’s a big swing for our small company. I’d like to thank our small but powerful GamesBeat writing team Mike Minotti, Rachel Kaser and Jordan Fragen.

Hasbro at 100: Michael Metzger of Drake Star talks with Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks.
Hasbro at 100: Michael Metzger of Drake Star talks with Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks.

I am grateful to our speakers and advisers too, who have believed in our community for a long time. Without them or you, our events wouldn’t happen.

Thank you to our staff who have worked on this event. Those directly involved in it are Matt Marshall, Gina Joseph, David Glass, Cathy Simpson, Mike Rosinski, Erin Modzelewski, Sonia Rude, Marc Gartenberg, Dave Dowling, Jess Puig, Alexei Ilinykh, Todd Bokin, Brian Thurman, Alyssa Reck, Devin Stein, Ben Searcy, Christina B, Natalie Sam, Nicole Patricio, Deb Sharp, and Jen Larsen. Thank you to Rob Lee and the Evergreen team for handling production. Thanks to our volunteers and our emcees Latoya Peterson, Elizabeth Olson, Amy Allison, and Chris Melissinos. These are the people who keep the narrative of GamesBeat going, and they are all better than chatbots. Our story isn’t done until we tell yours.

I hope you all enjoy the show. And lastly, I hope to see you all at GamesBeat Summit Next 2023 at the end of October in San Francisco.

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.

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