GamesBeat Summit Digital speakers: John Smedley, Glen Schofield, and Jessica Chobot

We’re taking GamesBeat Summit 2020 into a digital online-only format. And today, we’re revealing three new speakers for the event: John Smedley, head of Amazon Game Studios in San Diego, California; Glen Schofield, founder of Striking Distance Studios; and Jessica Chobot, host of Expedition X.

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.

John Smedley, head of Amazon Game Studios in San Diego

Above: John Smedley, CEO of Daybreak Game Company.

John Smedley has been making video games for more than 30 years, and led Sony Online Entertainment for over 15 years. He joined Amazon in 2017 and leads Amazon’s game development studio based in San Diego, California.

He helped create major online games such as EverQuest, EverQuest II, Planetside 2, Wizardry Online, DC Universe Online, Payday: The Heist, and Star Wars Galaxies. Besides Amazon and Sony Online, Smedley has worked at Knight Technologies, Verant Interactive, and Pixelmage.

Smedley was a speaker at our very first GamesBeat conference in 2009 (talking about Free Realms), and I’m delighted to have him back. He will be taking the stage to talk about mental health for game professionals — an exceedingly important topic right now. He will be joined onstage by Mark Chandler, founder of The International Game Summit on Mental Health, and Eve Crevoshay, executive director of Take This.

Glen Schofield, founder of Striking Distance Studios

Above: Glen Schofield is the founder of Striking Distance Studios in San Ramon, California.

During the past year, Glen Schofield has been busy creating Striking Distance Studios, a new triple-A game studio in his hometown of San Ramon, California. He has hired dozens of people and was about to move into a new building when the coronavirus struck. But he’s been rolling with the punches and is busy working from home. (I interviewed him last week about that experience).

Schofield was the cofounder of Sledgehammer Games alongside Michael Condrey. They created games such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Call of Duty: WWII. Before that, they had created Electronic Arts’ Visceral Games studio and created the Dead Space games. He was trained as an artist and is a rare individual in rising through the ranks to become a studio chief. He also worked on games such as Gex, Legacy of Kain, The Lord of the Rings, and 007: From Russia With Love.

Schofield gave a great talk on “The Art of Inspiration” in 2013 at the Dice Summit. I asked him to come up with a sequel to that, more than seven years later. I’m looking forward to what he’ll say. Now he’s working on a game set in the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds universe.

Jessica Chobot, host of Expedition X

Above: Jessica Chobot is host of Expedition X on the Discovery Channel.

Jessica Chobot can currently be seen in the new hit show Expedition X on the Discovery Channel. Previously she covered pop culture news and events as the host for Nerdist News, Nerdist News Talks Back, and Mothership over at ‪‪Nerdist.com‬‬. She’s also made appearances as a judge and as a sideline reporter for BattleBots.

Chobot’s 14 year career has focused on studio productions and event coverage, including the highly successful Nerdist News show, Nerdist News Talks Back, G4TV’s Attack of the Show, X­Play and Proving Ground and various digital programs at IGN. In addition to her studio work, She has hosted live and live-streamed events such as the DICE Awards (where I interviewed her), the GameStop Manager’s Conference, and various esports initiatives.

As a notable and knowledgeable woman in the tech, video game and entertainment industry, Chobot has made appearances as an industry expert for ABC World News, Extra!, Fox News Live, CBS News, and more.

Above: Nika Nour, executive director, IGDA

Chobot will moderate a fireside chat with Nika Nour, executive director of the IGDA Foundation. They will talk about “Diversity and Inclusion: How to create virtual and accessible resources for marginalized communities during a pandemic.”

Event details

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. Last week, we announced speakers such as former Blizzard Entertainment president and cofounder Mike Morhaime, Mike Frazzini of Amazon Game Studios, and Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney.

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

Above: Edward Saatchi, cofounder of Fable.

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

​11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

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: “Facebook creative testing: Why the control is so hard to beat” with Brian Bowman, CEO of Consumer Acquisition (solo talk)

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.

Above: Mihai Pohontu of Samsung at GamesBeat Summit 2016.

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

Above: Andrea Rene, on-camera host, producer & writer for “What’s Good Games”

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

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: Theresa Duringer is founder of Temple Gates Games.

Boss Stage: “Experiencing technical difficulty” 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: “Gaming has always paved the way in mobile and user acquisition” 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; Matthew Ball of Epyllion Industries; Raph Koster of Playable Worlds; Frederic Descamps of Manticore Games; moderated by Sam Englebardt of Galaxy Interactive

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; and Eve Crevoshay of Take This.

​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.

Above: Bing Gordon spoke on the Golden Age of Gaming at the 14th DICE Awards.

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 of Stray Bombay; moderated by Kate Edwards of The Global Game Jam

​4:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Above: Danny Bilson is head of USC Games.

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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