2014 DICE Summit speaker lineup puts evolving game business models front and center

2014 d i c e summit speaker lineup suggests a focus on evolving games business models sundance digiovanni

Major League Gaming CEO and co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni

The initial lineup of 2014 D.I.C.E. Summit speakers is confirmed, and the names listed reflect the annual gathering’s focus on how game industry business models continue to evolve in new and unexpected directions. The theme of the show is “The New Golden Age of Gaming,” and the speaker selection informs that. All of these individuals fill critical roles in establishing new foundations for doing business in games, even as new hardware arrives to strengthen the more traditional income-generating models.

Look who’s talking

David Helgeson, CEO of Unity Technologies: Helgeson is at the top of a company responsible for delivering game development tools for the masses. Unity endeavors to work closely with independent developers and support their continued growth, to the point that the game engine bearing the company’s name can be obtained at no cost. It’s flexible enough as a development platform to support console/PC development, but the availability and ease of use have helped to make Unity the engine of choice for the majority of mobile game developers out there.

Clive Downie, CEO of DeNA West: DeNA West owns the Mobage gaming platform and is one of the most well-known providers of mobile, free-to-play entertainment out there. Downie handles the company’s operations and forward-looking strategy in the West. Under his leadership, DeNA has been able to form partnerships with brands such as Disney and bring out games like The Drowning, a mature-themed game that is built to appeal to a broad cross-section of people, many of whom may not self-identify as “gamers.”

Sundance DiGiovanni, CEO and co-founder of Major League Gaming: Giovanni oversees one of the foremost providers of eSports content in the world. While eSports has yet to really breach into the mainstream, it’s a rapidly growing business that’s inspiring a lot of looks and double-takes from industry leaders. DiGiovanni’s role at the company is specifically focused on growing the MLG brand and, through it, the eSports audience.

Ed Fries, Microsoft former VP of game publishing: During his tenure at Microsoft, Fries was instrumental in establishing the company’s first Xbox console as a player capable of competing with the wildly popular PlayStation 2. He helped bring about strategic partnerships with Bungie, creator of the Halo franchise, and was largely responsible for laying the foundations of Microsoft Game Studios. Although Fries left Microsoft in 2004, he continued to shake things up in the games industry, at a number of startups and, most recently, as an advisor working with the upstart Android microconsole developer, Ouya. 

The 2014 D.I.C.E. Summit is set to kick off on February 4, 2014 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. There’s still much more to be revealed about who will be attending, including the lineup of speakers covering the four main keynotes: Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain. Among the highlights of last year’s gathering was an on-stage showdown between Valve Software boss Gabe Newell and Hollywood superstar J.J. Abrams. In addition to chatting back and forth about the unique challenges of crafting stories for interactive mediums versus passive ones, the pair also used the occasion to reveal their plans to collaborate on … something.