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GamesBeat Summit Digital speakers: Mike Morhaime, Owen Mahoney, and Mike Frazzini


We’re taking GamesBeat Summit 2020 into a digital online-only format. And today, we’re revealing three new speakers for the event: former Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Morhaime, Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney, and Amazon Games vice president Mike Frazzini.

We’ve added these speakers to the updated agenda, posted below, for the event which will air on April 28 and April 29 as a virtual conference. If you are interested in attending GamesBeat Summit online, please sign up here.

After careful thought about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we decided not to use centralized studios or physical locations. But we think we can serve our GamesBeat community well with a fully distributed, digital event.

The health and safety of our GamesBeat community, attendees, employees, and sponsors remains our top priority. In this digital event, attendees can watch livestreamed and recorded talks, take part in online networking sessions and digital roundtables, access our gaming partners virtually, and more.

Mike Morhaime, former president of Blizzard

Above: Mike Morhaime is former president of Blizzard Entertainment.

Image Credit: Mike Morhaime

After 27 years at Blizzard, cofounder Mike Morhaime announced his retirement at a BlizzCon event in October, 2018, and he formally left the company in 2019. career that spanned more than 27 years at a single company. Under his tenure, Blizzard Entertainment became one of the biggest names in gaming.

GamesBeat Summit - It's a time of change in the game industry. Hosted online April 28-29.

Morhaime cofounded the company as Silicon & Synapse along with Allen Adham and Frank Pierce. Adham served as the first leader, and Morhaime took over as president in 1998, after Adham resigned to pursue a different life. And after 2007, Morhaime was president of Blizzard. Morhaime led efforts to help grow the company from a Southern California startup to an international powerhouse with regional operations in more than a dozen countries, including China.

During his reign, World of Warcraft became the biggest massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world. Blizzard also gave us such memorable games as Diablo, StarCraft, Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. Morhaime cofounded Silicon & Synapse with Allen Adham and Frank Pearce in 1991. I wrote a detailed Blizzard’s history in an interview with Morhaime back in 2016 when the studio turned 25.

I did a fireside chat with Morhaime last year at Gamelab in Barcelona, and I was struck at how thoughtful he was about answering questions about gaming’s past and its future.
Morhaime’s passions extend beyond gaming, and he’s been a staunch advocate for bringing communities together, creating inclusive environments, and striving to have a positive impact on the world at large. He’s been a supporter of numerous charitable efforts, and during his tenure, Blizzard helped raise millions of dollars and awareness for charity partners, including Make-A-Wish, Girls Who Code, Children’s Hospital Orange County, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and many others.

Morhaime has been honored by numerous organizations, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (technology and Engineering Emmy), Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, has been inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame, and was given the 2019 Honor Award at Gamelab Barcelona.
Seth Schiesel, former staff writer on games for the New York Times, will moderate the fireside chat. Schiesel wrote a groundbreaking column about games for many years at the newspaper. We are delighted to have them both.

Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon

Mahoney’s Tokyo-based company is the pioneer of free-to-play online games. He has been head of the company since March 2014. Before that, he was general manager of the administration division at Nexon, and also served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer. At Nexon, the company’s big hits include Dungeon Fighter Online and Maple Story.

He served as the head of global financial operations and CEO at OutSpark and was an executive at Electronic Arts for nine years.

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Recently, Mahoney has been leading Nexon into a Western expansion. The company acquired DomiNations developer Big Huge Games, a Western studio founded by game pioneers Brian Reynolds and Tim Train, and it also bought High School Story developer Pixelberry Studios. Nexon also invested in a new studio run by former EA game studio chief Patrick Söderlund.

Mahoney has been signing up a lot of famous game developers, mostly by pitching gaming as an art form. Mahoney has spoken at GamesBeat events before on how gaming should lose its Hollywood envyhow to craft a culture of inspiration, and how artistry is key to solving mobile gaming’s malaise. Last year, he spoke about creating game communities that last for years. We are delighted to have him back.

Mike Frazzini, vice president at Amazon Games

Above: Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Frazzini oversees Amazon’s first-party games and Twitch Prime. Amazon Games is cooking a number of games, including the massively multiplayer online game New World. Twitch Prime gives members a selection of free PC games every month, free in-game loot for the world’s largest games, and a premium experience on Twitch that includes a free channel subscription every 30 days, and exclusive chat colors and emotes. Twitch Prime is available in more than 200 countries and territories.

In his more than 15 years at Amazon, he has previously held leadership roles in books and video game retail. He’s an avid skier and gamer, and holds a BA from Miami University an MBA from the University of Michigan

Frazzini will delve into Amazon’s customer-centric approach to games, and discuss why today’s best games continue evolving into long-term hobbies. I will moderate the session with Mike. Looking forward to it.

Event details

Above: GamesBeat Summit Digital speakers.

Image Credit: VentureBeat/GamesBeat

GamesBeat Summit Digital will provide the same great content and create digital networking experiences, all available remotely. We’ve very grateful that the overwhelming number of our speakers (which we originally recruited for our physical event) and our sponsors have stayed with us. We hope to live up to their belief in us with our talks around the theme of Dawn of the Next Generation.

We will continue to be proactive in our communication and will follow up with more information about technology platforms and logistics in the coming days. It looks like we’re heading toward an even larger even with about 115 speakers. The schedule is still subject to change.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 (all times Pacific time)

9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Boss Stage: Introductory remarks by Dean Takahashi, lead writer for VentureBeat’s GamesBeat

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Boss Stage: “Serious money going into esports and gaming: Mergers, acquisitions, and fundraising trends” with Alina Soltys, founder of Quantum Tech Partners

​9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Boss Stage: “The rise of new independent publishers” with Michael Worosz, executive vice president for corporate development and independent publishing at Take-Two Interactive, moderated by Michael Metzger, partner at Drake Star Partners

Hero Stage: “The future of gaming is user-generated content” with Matt Curtis, VP of Developer Relations at Roblox

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Boss stage: Owen Mahoney, CEO of Nexon

​Hero Stage: Esports with Neo Liu, head of publishing for Tencent North America; Karim Farghaly of Bandai Namco; and Jacob Navok, CEO of Genvid Technologies; moderated by David Hoppe of Gamma Law

10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Boss Stage: Mike Morhaime, cofounder and former president of Blizzard Entertainment, moderated by Seth Schiesel

​Hero Stage: “The Leisure Economy” with John Linden, CEO, Mythical Games

Above: GamesBeat Summit Digital speakers

Image Credit: VentureBeat/GamesBeat

​11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

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Boss Stage: Fireside Chat with Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, moderated by Keisha Howard of Sugar Gamers

​Hero Stage: “Choose your own adventure: The evolution of storytelling through the next generation” with Gary Whitta of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, moderated by Tina Amini of IGN

​11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Gaming’s future as the best form of entertainment,” Jon Goldman of Greycroft and GC Tracker Fund, moderated by Andreea Enache of Blind Squirrel Entertainment

​Hero Stage: “We are who we pretend to be” with Edward Saatchi of Fable Studio, moderated by Dean Takahashi

​12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Breakout sessions, Networking Roundtables, Slack Q&A, Community Discussion

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: Scopely co-CEO Javier Ferreira

Hero Stage: “Game investments in the age of the coronavirus” with Ryan McDermott of Resolute Partners Group

​1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Boss Stage: Brian Bowman, CEO of Consumer Acquisition

Hero Stage: “Using AI for game testing,” with PinkLion CEO Jennifer Bonine (solo talk)

​2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Console cycles: The old, the new, and the future” with Rob Dyer, chief operating officer at Capcom, moderated by Mike Vorhaus of Vorhaus Advisors

​Hero Stage: “Bulletproofing your brand strategy in the age of influencers” with Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements

​2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Boss Stage: “What to expect in early-stage fundraising” with David Gardner of London Venture Partners; Gregory Milken of March Capital Partners; and Shanti Bergel of Transcend Fund; moderated by David Chang of Asmodee Digital

​2:30 p.m. – -3:00 p.m.

Hero Stage: “Industry-facing game education – A Snapshot of the USC Games program” with Richard Lemarchand, Associate Professor at USC Games Program, moderated by Brandon Sheffield of Necrosoft Games

​3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Hero Stage: Series A/B Panel with Phil Sanderson of Griffin Gaming Partners; Michael Cheung of Makers Fund; moderated by Eric Goldberg of Crossover Technologies

3:45 pm – 4 p.m. Hero Stage break

​3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Jenova Chen is cofounder of Thatgamecompany, creator of games like Journey, Flower, Flow, and Sky.

Above: Jenova Chen is cofounder of Thatgamecompany, creator of games like Journey, Flower, Flow, and Sky.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Boss Stage: “How Thatgamecompany enabled a wholesome community in Sky” with Jenova Chen, Co-Founder of Thatgamecompany

​4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Building out charity in the games space” with Stephen Machuga of Stack-Up

​Hero Stage: “Your Gamer DNA” with Chethan Ramachandran, CEO of Skillprint; moderated by Keisha Howard of Sugar Gamers

​4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Boss Stage: Fireside Chat with Peter Akemann, CEO at Skydance Interactive

​Hero Stage: “The Realities of crossplay and managing live services” with Jesse Houston, CEO of Phoenix Labs; moderated by Dean Takahashi

​5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: “The Constant of Creativity” with Glen Schofield, Founder of Striking Distance Studios

​Hero Stage: “External Development Stories” with Mihai Pohontu, CEO of Amber Studios

​5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Connect with the community online. Join online Q&A, breakout sessions, and try fun and new digital event technology.

​Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mari Takahashi is cofounder of Smosh Games.

Above: Mari Takahashi, cofounder of Smosh Games.

Image Credit: Smosh

8:00 a.m.

Women in Gaming Virtual Breakfast, Presented by Niantic. Speakers include Kellee Santiago of Niantic, Nonny de la Peña of Emblematic Group, and Elizabeth Howard of Aspyr

​9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Boss Stage: Opening remarks — Mike Minotti, reviews editor at GamesBeat

​10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Boss Stage: “The future of influencer marketing” with Mari Takahashi of Smosh Games; Joshua Ovenshire of Arcade Cloud; moderated by Andrea Rene of What’s Good Games

​Hero Stage: “How to run a great writers room” with Adam Foshko of HBO; moderated by Mark Long of HBO

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10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Boss Stage: “Recapturing the history of games,” Josh Tsui of Ten Point Oh and Blake Harris, author of Console Wars and A History of the Future; moderated by Dean Takahashi

Hero Stage: Lightning round talks

“Play with My Emotions: A Case for (more) Romance & Sex in Games’ with Zsuzsa James, Team Finland Coordinator for Video Games & Esports; Andrew Maximov, CEO of Promethean AI; Barry Jenkins, CEO of Primal Space Systems and Instant Interactive

​11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Boss Stage: “Why gaming will be at the center of the future entertainment universe” with Josh Yguado, Co-Founder & President of Jam City, moderated by Amy Allison of Skydance

​Hero Stage: Fireside Chat with Elan Lee, cofounder of Exploding Kittens; moderated by Theresa Duringer of Temple Gates Games

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Above: Mitch Lasky of Benchmark

Boss Stage: Fireside Chat with Mitch Lasky of Benchmark Capital; moderated by Eric Goldberg of Crossover Technologies

​11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Hero Stage: “How game developers can adapt to the world after COVID-19,” with Renee Gittins, Executive Director of IGDA, moderated by Justin Berenbaum of Xsolla

​12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: Fireside Chat with Bernard Kim of Zynga; moderated by Patrick Shanley of The Hollywood Reporter

​12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Breakout sessions, Networking Roundtables, Slack Q&A, Community Discussion

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Mobile Monetization” with Paul Muller, CTO of Adjust; moderated by Dean Takahashi

Hero Stage: “The EVE Effect” with Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP

1:30 p.m – 2:00 p.m.

Boss Stage: “The Metaverse is Coming” with Philip Rosedale of High Fidelity; Matt Ball of Stratechery; Raph Koster of Playable Worlds; Frederic Descamps of Manticore Games; moderated by Sam Engelbardt of Galaxy Digital

Hero Stage: “The mainstreaming of esports,” panel including Mark Chang, head of gaming and esports at Intel

​2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Boss Stage: Fireside chat with Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus

Hero Stage: “Strategies for mental wellness in gaming,” speakers John Smedley of Amazon Studios; Mark Chandler of The International Game Summit for Mental Health

​2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Boss Stage: “The real world games of the future: Designing AR/Geospatial/Purposeful games,” with Greg Borrud of Niantic (solo talk)

​Hero Stage: “Diversity and inclusion: How to create virtual and accessible resources for marginalized communities during a pandemic/in the face of uncertainty,” with Nika Nour, Executive Director of IGDA Foundation, moderated by gaming personality Jessica Chobot

​3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Neil Young is CEO of N3twork.

Above: Neil Young is CEO of N3twork.

Image Credit: N3twork

Boss Stage: Fireside Chat with Neil Young, CEO of N3twork, moderated by Bing Gordon of Kleiner Perkins

Hero Stage: Blockchain panel with Sebastian Borget of The Sandbox; Peter Kieltyka of Horizon Blockchain Games; and Eric Schiermeyer of Blockchain Game Partners; Taehoon Kim, CEO of nWay; moderated by James Zhang of Concept Art House

​3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Breakout sessions, Networking Roundtables, Slack Q&A, Community Discussion

​3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Games M&A: Open for business” with Michael Chang of NCSoft; Chris Petrovic of Zynga; Nick Tuosto of LionTree; and Affan Butt of Aream & Co.; moderated by Mark Stevens of Fenwick & West LLP

​Hero Stage: Asia Gaming Panel with Bill Wang of Giant Network; Amy Huang of Mattel163; Cynthia Du of Cocos; Jeff Lyndon of iDreamSky; moderated by Lisa Cosmas Hanson of Niko Partners ​

4:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Boss Stage: “Working backward from the players: Amazon’s approach to games,” with Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon, moderated by Dean Takahashi

Hero Stage: “Player behavior: Your secret growth tool,” with Carlos Figueiredo of Two Hat Security, Clara Siegal of Facebook, and Kim Voll

​4:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Above: Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity.

Boss Stage: Singtel

​Hero Stage: Fireside Chat with Danny Bilson, Chair, Interactive Media, Games Division at USC​

5:15 pm – 5:45 pm

Boss Stage: To be announced

​Hero Stage: To be announced

​5:45 p.m.

Connect with the community online. Join online Q&A, breakout sessions, and try fun and new digital event technology.



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