GamesBeat Summit Next 2022: Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus joins speaker roster

Interested in learning what’s next for the gaming industry? Join gaming executives to discuss emerging parts of the industry this October at GamesBeat Summit Next. Register today.


We’re excited that our speakers for GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 will include Mark Pincus, the cofounder and former CEO of Zynga (acquired by Take Two Interactive earlier this year for $12.7 billion), which pioneered social games to help establish gaming as a mass-market activity.

Waves of hype always crash into the game industry, but we never know if they’re going to get our feet wet or be tidal waves that change the whole industry. GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 will examine the next big opportunities in a disciplined way with the industry’s thought leaders. You can use the discount code Dean50 to get 50% off the ticket price for a limited time.

Our event will focus on the emerging parts of gaming that could turn into the next big markets. Our major subthemes will focus on key areas and how they will grow in the post-pandemic world. Those subthemes include the metaverse, user-generated content and the creator economy, influencers and the upheavals in marketing, nonfungible tokens and cryptocurrency, emerging markets, subscriptions and cloud gaming and the changing infrastructure of games. And as always, we will look at deal-making and the financial trends in gaming.

Mark Pincus

Mark Pincus is the cofounder and former CEO of Zynga.

Pincus founded Zynga in April 2007, accompanied by Eric Schiermeyer, Justin Waldron, Michael Luxton, Steve Schoettler, and Andrew Trader (working under the name Presidio Media).

It changed its name to Zynga, named after Pincus’ bulldog, and had a big hit with a social poker game, Texas Hold’Em Poker, now known as Zynga Poker.

During Pincus’ run as CEO of Zynga, the company rode the wave of social gaming on Facebook and then made a somewhat rocky transition to mobile. Under his tenure, the San Francisco company came up with big hits like FarmVille, CityVille, and FrontierVille. That netted it more than a billion players, and it showed that a company could reach far more people than the hardcore gaming companies of the time could.

Pincus helped pioneer the free-to-play business model in social games, where players paid real money to buy virtual items such as poker chips that they couldn’t cash out. On the strength of this success and the games-as-a-service model, Zynga went public in 2011. With thousands of employees Zynga bought Sega’s old San Francisco digs.

In 2014, Pincus handed the CEO job to Xbox veteran Don Mattrick, and that didn’t go so well. Less than a year later, Pincus came back as CEO and eventually hired Electronic Arts’ Frank Gibeau. Gibeau helped Zynga get its mojo back through acquisitions and eventually sold Zynga to Take-Two Interactive for $12.7 billion. Pincus became an investor and is now watching the blockchain gaming market closely.

We’ll talk to him about his plans and what he thinks of today’s gaming industry. Pincus has been an active early investor in numerous technology companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Snap, Epic Games, Xiaomi, JD.com, Niantic and Dapper Labs. It’s been a decade since Pincus and I did a fireside chat our GamesBeat 2012 event, and I’m excited to have him back.

More speakers

Andrea Cutright is head of global marketing, Prime Gaming & Game Growth at Amazon Games.

We’ve named a number of other speakers as well. They include Umesh Lakshman, head of solutions architecture, West, media and entertainment at Lumen. He will talk on a session about the journey to build the real-time metaverse.

We’ve also got Uri Marchand, CEO of Overwolf, on a session about the future of user-generated content with Enrico D’Angelo, vice president of product, economy & ecosystems at Roblox; and Ada Duan, general manager of growth products and partnerships for Mojang Studios.

Our speakers also include Jay Chang, Co-founder & CMO, Genopets; Joan Kim, investor, Samsung Next; Chris Early, senior vice president of strategic partnerships & business development at Ubisoft; Andrea Cutright, head of global marketing for Prime Gaming & Game Growth at Amazon Games; Mike Lucero, director of product management for gaming at Samsung; and Perrin Kaplan, former head of marketing at Nintendo of America and cofounder of Zebra Partners.

Previously announced speakers

Will Wright is making a game for Gala Games.
Will Wright is cofounder of Gallium.

We previously announced that our speakers include Sim City creator Will Wright, now cofounder of Gallium; and Matthew Ball, CEO of Epyllion and author of the popular book, The Metaverse.

Wright will talk about his new startup, Gallium Studios, and his views of gaming in a fireside chat with Peter Levin, managing partner at Griffin Gaming Partners, while Ball will expand upon the open metaverse.

Neville Spiteri, CEO of pioneering virtual reality firm Wevr, will speak about the tools for the next-generation of game development. They’re among the best seers in the industry with a track record of excellence.

Renee Gittins, general manager of Phoenix Labs and former executive director of the International Game Developers Association, will be part of an interesting panel entitled Soft Skills for Hard Problems. She will be joined by Aleissia Laidacker, mixed reality expert and head of product and technology at Open Meta Association. Other panelists include Yaprak Decarmine, CEO of Game Jolt; Lauren Hetu, senior software engineer, Phoenix Labs; and Zak Whaley, director of engineering at PlayEveryWare. These speaker illustrate what we can learn from thinkers who are solving modern problems in different ways.

Susan Bonds is CEO of 42 Entertainment.
Susan Bonds is CEO of 42 Entertainment.

We’ve also got a good series of sessions on the rise of user-generated content, spearheaded by modding platform company Overwolf. The speakers include Overwolf’s Marchand as well as Shahar Sorek, chief marketing officer of Overwolf.

Brooks Brown, founder of Consortium9, will also enlighten us about the right way to think about blockchain, and Umesh Lakshman, head of solutions architecture West, media and entertainment at Lumen, a tech infrastructure company that is preparing for the real-time metaverse. We’ve also got Susan Bonds, CEO of 42 Entertainment, a maker of alternate reality games, and her new work in AR at Animal Repair Shop.

These are just the initial set of some amazing speakers that we have lined up for the event, which will be held in person at the Midway in San Francisco on October 25-26. We’re curating an excellent experience with multiple tracks so that you can explore the emerging part of gaming that you care about.

Our target audience is the decision makers who will guide the way to a bigger and better gaming industry. The path through the recession won’t be easy, particularly as things aren’t growing as fast as they once were and high-flying areas like blockchain games have crashed. But we’ll have the right people to explain the most important trends in games so you can thread the way to growth.

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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