GamesBeat Summit speakers: Randy Pitchford, Shannon Loftis, and Mitch Lasky


GamesBeat Summit 2020 will focus on the latest trends in the gaming ecosystem, and today we’re introducing a trio of speakers who are known for being outspoken advocates for the game industry.

In separate fireside chats, Mitch Lasky of Benchmark, Shannon Loftis of Microsoft, and Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software will speak at our event, which will take place on April 28 and April 29 in downtown Los Angeles at Two Bit Circus, a “micro-amusement park.” This place combines old-style circus and arcade games with modern virtual reality entertainment in the city’s Arts District.

You can register for tickets here under our early-bird pricing at 30% off. You can see 23 of the speakers listed on the event site, and we’ll have 100 speakers by April.

Other previously announced speakers include:

  • Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games
  • Gary Whitta, screenwriter for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and former editor of PC Gamer
  • Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of games at IGN
  • Richard Lemarchand, associate professor at the USC Games program
  • Nika Nour, executive director of International Game Developers Association Foundation
  • David Gardner, cofounder of London Venture Partners
  • Anantha Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, a promoter of games for peace
  • Andrea Rene, cofounder of What’s Good Games
  • Mari “AtomicMari” Takahashi, cofounder of Smosh Games
  • Paola “Pancakepow” Alejandra, creator of Pancakepow.com
  • Joshua “Jovenshire” Ovenshire
  • Elan Lee, cofounder of Exploding Kittens
  • Edward Saatchi, cofounder of Fable Studios
  • Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements

We’ve got more speakers that we haven’t announced yet. They will have their own way of expressing what our theme — the Dawn of a New Generation — means to them.

It’s a time of change in the game industry. Console makers are moving ahead with their new machines. Cloud gaming efforts like Google Stadia are joining the fray. Apple is driving hard with Apple Arcade, and HBO, Netflix, and others are moving into games. The digital delivery stores are proliferating, giving competition to the old guard like Steam. And AR/VR companies are trying to get off the ground with new tech.

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Gaming is moving down parallel paths, finding new ways to turn all of us into gamers. It is an ever-widening circle of opportunity, and our speakers will talk about how to best navigate these transitions to new machines, new markets, new business models, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Shannon Loftis, studio head for World’s Edge at Microsoft Xbox

Above: Shannon Loftis is studio head of World’s Edge at Microsoft.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Shannon Loftis is the studio head for World’s Edge, Microsoft’s studio focused on all things Age of Empires. Shannon has been with Microsoft since 1993, making games for the vast majority of that time.

Shannon studied computer science and mathematics at Duke University. She joined Microsoft in 1993 and quickly migrated to the Entertainment Product Unit. Her earliest work focused on the creation of online card-playing games, utilizing the emerging consumer potential of the internet and social game design. Shannon has been responsible for multiplayer games across all of Microsoft’s gaming platforms (console, PC and Hololens), including the Madness series (Motocross Madness, Monster Truck Madness, and Midtown Madness), Project Gotham Racing, the Fable series, the Viva Pinata series, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and many others.

In total, Shannon has contributed to more than 50 games. Shannon has created and led many global teams in the US and UK, including games publishing teams, interactive television teams, and internal game development studios (most notably Good Science, the team responsible for greenlighting and shipping the Kinect with full-motion games and core in 2010).

Prior to World’s Edge, Shannon built and ran the Microsoft Studios 1 st Party Global Publishing team focused on such AAA franchises as Crackdown, State of Decay, and the Microsoft Casual Suite.

Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox Software

Above: Randy Pitchford cofounded Gearbox Software in 1999.

Image Credit: Gearbox Software

Randy Pitchford is a video game industry veteran of more than 20 years and cofounder of the award winning, best-selling video game developer Gearbox Software. Randy has created, developed, produced, directed, written, designed and otherwise driven or significantly contributed to some of the most successful and famous video game franchises of all time from leading the creation of the critically acclaimed, record breaking original franchises Borderlands and Brothers in Arms to building industry leading, genre defining games with licensed properties including Half-Life and Halo.

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From his first commercial, professional work on the infamous Duke Nukem video games in the mid 1990s to today’s efforts to create tomorrow’s hottest new video game franchises, Randy Pitchford has become one of the most impactful and respected video game developers in the world. Randy’s credited titles across generations and platforms have sold more than 100 million units worldwide generating well over $1 billion dollars in revenue. You can find Randy and his half-million-plus followers on Twitter with his handle @DuvalMagic.

Mitch Lasky, partner at Benchmark

Mitch Lasky is a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Benchmark. Before becoming a professional investor, Lasky spent two decades as an operating executive in the video game business, helping start Disney’s interactive software division, launching two startups (one of which, JAMDAT, he took public as CEO), running Activision’s worldwide studios (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Quake 3 Arena), and heading mobile and online gaming at Electronic Arts.

At Benchmark, Lasky has made many early-stage investments in media and game companies, most notably Snap (Snapchat), Riot Games (League of Legends), and Discord. His five successful venture exits have generated an aggregate 35 times multiple on invested capital. A life-long soccer fan, Lasky is also a co-owner and board member at MLS club LAFC.

What to expect

Location-based entertainment from Two-Bit Circus

Above: Location-based entertainment from Two Bit Circus

We’re honored to have these speakers. They’ll be speaking in fireside chats, panels, and solo talks across our three stages: The Boss Stage (CEO/business talks), The Hero Stage (triple-A game developers and consumer-oriented talks), and The Bonus Stage (special talks).

The event will span all of games. We think that bringing the leaders of the industry together from different sectors helps refine the best thinking, and you often get wisdom from lessons that are hard learned. These kinds of talks and the chance for networking across sectors and industries is what will make our event unique in the crowded conference space.

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Our event is going to be an intimate affair. And our location this year once again fits right with our theme. Two Bit Circus is a 40,0000-square-foot playground for all ages, with entertainment that includes escape rooms, virtual reality experiences, a VIP loft, live interactive games, a robot bartender show, and modern versions of carnival games. Our attendees will be able to hear business talks in the Club 101 auditorium and consumer-focused talks in a second hall.

We’re still forming our topics around next-generation gaming. The discussions will likely focus on investing in games; mergers and acquisitions and the changes they will bring about; the globalization of games; diversity; esports; the psychology of games; rising regulation; AI’s impact on games; games for peace; the rise of influencers; the convergence of sci-fi, tech, and games; monetization; blockchain and cryptocurrency; and debates on topics such as addiction and loot boxes.

This is our 11th year of GamesBeat events and this year promises to be the best one yet. If you’ve never been to our event, here’s my opening speech at last year’s event. And here are links to the videos for day one and day two. And here’s a summary of a few talks and a story about the Bushnell family that built Two-Bit Circus. Check out those links if you want to see if GamesBeat Summit is for you.

Stay tuned as we announce more great speakers to our first-rate lineup. A partial list of sponsors includes Consumer Acquisition, Rogue Games, Genvid, Niantic, Two Hat Security, Jam City, Scopely, Amber, and Adjust.

Register for GamesBeat 2020 below.

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