GamesBeat 2017 will take place at San Francisco’s beautiful Fort Mason on October 5-6, and we’re delighted to announce our next three speakers. This trio can teach us a lot about making big decisions in the game business.

The speakers include Ed Fries, the former head of Microsoft Game Studios; Josh Yguado, the president, chief operating officer, and cofounder of Jam City; and Chris Heatherly, the new head of games at NBCUniversal. You can save 20 percent on registration with our Save20 discount code.

Fries is going to go on stage with a speaker who is still secret. We’ve got something special in mind for the lessons he can dredge up from the past for today’s game industry.

He created his first video game for the Atari 800 in the early 1980s. He joined Microsoft in 1986 and spent the next 10 years as one of the early developers of Excel and Word. But then his inner gamer surfaced again. He left the Office team and pursued his passion, becoming the head of Microsoft Game Studios. Over the next eight years, he grew the team from 50 people to over 1,200, published more than 100 games, and cofounded the Xbox project, which I chronicled in my book Opening the Xbox.

In 2004, Fries retired and made it his job to help people in the game industry. He serves as a board member, advisor, and consultant to a broad range of publishers, independent game developers, and media companies. In 2007, Fries launched his own startup, FigurePrints, an innovative company that uses color 3D printing technology to bring video game characters to life. In the summer of 2010, Fries released Halo 2600, a “demake” of the Halo video game series for the Atari 2600. In 2013, Halo 2600 became one of the first two video games to be added to the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Above: Josh Yguado, chief operating officer of Jam City.

Image Credit: Jam City

Josh Yguado is a familiar figure to readers of GamesBeat. At Jam City, he has overseen the mobile game developer and publisher’s exponential growth and global expansion.

During his time leading the company with co-founders Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb, Jam City’s gaming portfolio has repeatedly dominated the top-grossing charts of Apple’s, Google’s, and Amazon’s app stores. Jam City generated more than $300 million in revenue in 2016, and it is targeting $450 million in 2017. Much of that will come from licensed intellectual property such as Peanuts, and we’ll talk about making licensed IP work in mobile in a fireside chat at our event.

Before launching Jam City, Yguado was vice president at Fox Entertainment, where he worked at the intersection of Hollywood and technology. Among other work there, Yguado helped Fox in its acquisition of MySpace, its creation of Hulu, and its launch of new television networks.

Above: Chris Heatherly is running the new games group at NBCUniversal.

Image Credit: NBCUniversal

Chris Heatherly built a solid mobile games business at Disney, but it went away when Mickey Mouse made a big strategic changing favoring outside developers. But now he is leveraging his experience at another major Hollywood company as the executive vice president of worldwide games and digital platforms at NBCUniversal. We’ll get him to talk about this new role and how Hollywood sees games.

He is helping to lead the expansion of Universal Brand Development’s interactive gaming experiences and digital content for console, PC, and mobile platforms that extends brand engagement with the company’s franchises. Heatherly is also responsible for business development opportunities leveraging NBCUniversal’s library of properties through apps, personalization, and digital content.

An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in the consumer technology and games industry, Heatherly joined NBCUniversal in 2016. Prior to NBCUniversal, Heatherly served as a general manager of Walt Disney Company’s Games and Apps business. In this role, he launched a series of top-grossing mobile hits for Disney’s app store content, including Star Wars: Commander, Inside Out: Thought Bubbles, and most recently Disney Emoji Blitz. He also solidified Disney’s licensing portfolio with the launch of Star Wars: Battlefront, Disney’s biggest console release ever. He worked alongside Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, LucasFilm, Disney Channel, and Marvel to leverage their IP on digital platforms.

Prior to Disney, Heatherly held several managerial positions in product development and brand strategy at Frog Design, Power Computing, and Apple.

Above: GamesBeat 2017 will take place at Fort Mason in San Francisco on Oct. 5-6, 2017.

Image Credit: Fort Mason

Fries, Yguado, and Heatherly will speak to our theme of the Time Machine. If you could see the future of games before it happens, that would give your business a competitive advantage. It’s like having a time machine where you can see the future and return to the present. You could also go back to the past to the retro days of gaming to get the lessons that matter. This is the idea driving the theme for our GamesBeat 2017 conference.

We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen in games, and that’s what makes it fun and unpredictable. But we’ll make sure that we get the most interesting leaders of the industry to speak. And we won’t just talk about old times. Rather, we’ll pair the speakers from the past with the leaders of today so they can talk about the relevant strategies for the future.

We’ll touch on the parts of gaming that are driving excitement, growth, and new startups. That includes augmented reality, virtual reality, esports, influencers, mobile games, core games, indies, new game technologies, and the connection between games, tech, and science fiction. We want to show you the edge and the strategies that will succeed in the future.

Above: GamesBeat 2017’s first speakers.

Image Credit: VentureBeat

The past can be prologue. But games have changed as they’ve reached a billion people and $100 billion in yearly revenues, reaching the mainstream like they never have before. Can we still apply the lessons from the past to the current and future marketplace? And what type of innovations and companies will draw the blueprint of what’s to come? So much of the industry’s internal narrative has been about it being cutting-edge. How can we imagine a broader set of drivers other than technology that will shape the industry?

GamesBeat 2017 is the destination conference for networking, inspiring talks, intelligent interaction, and getting all the right people in the room to make great deals happen. It targets game and tech industry CEOs, executives, marketers, investors, venture capitalists, and developers.

Our previously announced speakers include Debbie Bestwick, CEO of Team17; Perrin Kaplan, principal at Zebra Partners; Stephanie Chan, writer at GamesBeat; Tim Chang, managing director at Mayfield Fund; Ramez Naam, science fiction author and writer of the Nexus series; Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable; Bill Roper, chief creative officer at Improbable; Paul Bettner, CEO of Playful, the creator of the VR titles Lucky’s Tale and Steven Roberts, chairman of ESL, the biggest independent esports tournament company; Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games, creator of Eve Online and VR games such as Eve Valkyrie; and Bernie Stolar, CEO of The Stolar Group and former head at Sony’s U.S. PlayStation business and Sega of America.

Advisory board

  • Nicole Lazzaro, CEO of XEO Design
  • Nick Beliaeff, senior vice president at Spin Master
  • Noah Falstein, chief game designer at Google
  • James Zhang, CEO of Concept Art House
  • Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research
  • Nathan Stewart, Dungeons & Dragons senior director, Wizards of the Coast
  • Peter Levin, president of Lionsgate Interactive
  • Ravi Belwal, Facebook Games
  • Jamil Moledina, Google Play
  • Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
  • Michael Metzger, senior vice president at Houlihan Lokey
  • Mihir Shah, CEO of Immersv
  • Zvi Greenstein, general manager at Nvidia
  • Gordon Bellamy, visiting scholar at USC
  • Tadgh Kelly, Vreal
  • Tom Sanocki, CEO of Limitless
  • Phil Sanderson, managing director at IDG Ventures
  • Walter Driver, CEO of Scopely
  • David Pokress, senior vice president at AdColony
  • Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors

Topics will include:

  • Intersection of sci-fi, games and tech
  • Platforms:Where to place your bets? AR,VR, & more
  • Creating a culture of inspiration and creativity
  • Emerging markets for games
  • Monetization: How to acquire and retain users
  • Esports and building the community
  • Deals: Follow the money
  • Diversity and the expanding ecosystem
  • Early Access as a business model
  • How mods can launch new game genres
  • What game engine should you use?

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