onsdag 3. februar 2010

Announcing four new speakers at GamesBeat@GDC; Early bird pricing ends soon

We’re excited to announce four new speakers at our second annual game conference, GamesBeat@GDC, which takes place on Wednesday, March 10, during the Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
First, a word about our theme, Disruption 2.0. At GamesBeat@GDC we’ll focus on the next disruptions that will happen in the video game industry. In the past couple of years, social games with virtual goods business models have proved themselves and shaken up the status quo. The iPhone has become a hot platform and Apple hopes to extend further into games with the iPad. Digital distribution and online games are growing. Will these trends gather more momentum and prove to be sustainable, or will new platforms and business models disrupt the disruptors? The big game companies and brands are maneuvering into the space, even as successful startups are consolidating their gains and acquiring companies. Are console game makers poised to make a comeback as the recession ends? Everyone is looking to define the next-generation of games. Our conference will have the speakers from game companies that are doing the disrupting, adapting and growing.
Our newest speakers include:
Tomoko Namba, chief executive of Japan’s DeNA. She will speak on a panel on international game markets, dubbed Games Without Borders. Namba, who was a partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from Harvard,  founded DeNA in 1999. The company operates Mobage-town, a mobile social networking service that has a 70-percent penetration rate among Japanese teens. The service has 250 free-to-play games that generate hundreds of millions of page views per day. DeNA’s Mobage-town generates $200 million in annual revenue.
The panel is a recognition of the fast growth for games on a global basis. In the past, Japan, the U.S. and Europe were all that mattered. But now players in countries such as Korea, China, and Russia have all experienced rapid growth. Japan itself is years ahead of the West in its development of mobile games. As those markets race ahead, will investors shift their attention to foreign investments? Will foreign companies invest in the U.S. market? Or will something get lost in cross-border translation? What can we learn from the success of some of the world’s new titans in games?
Klaas Kersting, chief executive of Germany’s Gameforge, a pioneer in free-to-play online games. Kersting will join Namba on the Games Without Borders panel. While American game companies have debated the value of free games with virtual goods business models, Germany’s Gameforge has gone headfirst into making these games. The 400-person company has grown its revenue 6,261 percent in the past five years. Gameforge specializes in making browser-based massively multiplayer games. It operates 18 of them in 50 languages and has more than 100 million users.
Alex St. John, president and chief technology officer of social network hi5. St. John likes to rattle cages and shake things up, as we saw on our panel on at DiscoveryBeat. He has big plans for hi5, a social network with 60 million users but which is an underdog competing against giants such as Facebook and MySpace. St. John intends to shift hi5’s game platform into high gear. Before joining hi5, he was the founder of online game firm Wild Tangent and was also the game evangelist at Microsoft that got the company to create the DirectX multimedia technology that became the foundation for games Windows and the Xbox.
St. John will speak on a panel about disruptive game platforms. It will focus on what the owners of game platforms, from the consoles to the social networks, can do to foster the growth of games. Is the winner of the game wars going to be new social game platforms like Facebook, or will it be the traditional companies backing console and web site games?

Brian Reynolds, chief designer at Zynga. Reynolds has been in the game business for 18 years and is widely recognized as one of its most talented game designers. He played a big role founding two successful game studios, Firaxis and Big Huge Games. At Firaxis, he worked along legendary designer Sid Meier, creating games such as Civilization II and Alpha Centauri. At Big Huge Games, he created Rise of Nations. I recall doing multiple interviews with Reynolds over the years. When he demoed Alpha Centauri to me, I remember how he guffawed when he showed off a nuclear bomb. (It was all pretend, of course). Now Reynolds is taking his experience as a hardcore game designer and applying it to the new market of social games on Facebook. At Zynga, he is running the Zynga East studio on new kinds of social strategy games.
GamesBeat@GDC’s previously announced speakers include keynote speaker Steve Perlman, chief executive of OnLive, who will talk about his company’s games-on-demand service and how it could disrupt the retail distribution of games as well as the sale of high-end hardware for playing games.
Our other previously announced speaker is John Schappert, chief operating officer of Electronic Arts. In a moderated fireside chat, he will discuss how developers, publishers and investors can navigate the risks of the digital transformation.  How quickly is the game industry evolving to a totally online model, and what will it look like when we get there?  Does this mean that the shiny disc is dead?  And, does social gaming really break all the rules, or will it follow an orderly progression toward big brands like mobile and smart phones?
Please note that early bird pricing for GamesBeat@GDC ends at midnight on Feb. 4. To register for the conference, follow this link and click on the registration tab.

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