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Talks & Panels 2024

"How we Bootstrapped our Company to $1 Billion Revenues"

It will be a 20-minute founder story from Günay Aliyeva, where she will share learnings she had with previously founded startups and advice for entrepreneurs ready for founding their own company. She will share her success story in the mobile games marketing, being a woman in tech, and share her latest success story on how to build a startup from scratch without any external investment or any large company behind.

Günay Aliyeva

Co-Founder - Gamelight

Günay Aliyeva is a Co-Founder of Gamelight with 10+ years of expertise in mobile gaming & ad-tech industries. Günay successfully founded and scaled 3 start-ups, including an innovative app developer and publisher, catbyte, and the largest rewarded mobile marketing platform Gamelight, which is set to achieve 1 Billion in Revenues in 2024.

Passionate about tech innovations, Günay disrupted the mobile marketing industry with a revolutionary AI algorithm that continuously analyzes large volumes of real-time data, including users’ app usage data, demographic data and behavioural patterns, to drive high engagement and monetization to partner games.

The platform has won multiple prestigious awards for its AI algorithm, including “Best AI Tool” at the renowned dottCom Awards, “Best App Advertising Platform” at the App Growth Awards, and “Best Mobile Marketing Platform” at Digiday Technology Awards. Gamelight consistently boosts the performance of major mobile games and apps from North America to Europe to Asia.

"What's definitely NOT the future of games development?"

It’s easy enough to predict what MIGHT be the future of games development, but it’s considerably harder (and arguably more useful) to know what ISN’T. In this session, developers ranging from notable up-and-coming indies to veterans of the industry discuss the mistakes to avoid, the trends to ignore and the practices to drop in a series of microtalks, either on stage or via video.

James Batchelor

Editor-in-Chief - Games Industry.biz

James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. A journalist since 2006, he has also written for Eurogamer, Time Extension, NintendoLife, and was previously editor of Develop and deputy editor of MCV.

He is the author of The Best Non-Violent Video Games, as well as urban fantasy thrillers Wandless and Blow The House Down, and creator of Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD).

"A Peek into the Future: Using AI to Turbocharge Game Design, Data Science, CRM and more."

I will navigate the diverse applications of AI in the context of Gaming, exploring fundamentals and practical applications in CRM, Data Science, Game Design, and more. The first focus is on Churn prevention and management, employing classification techniques. Subsequently, I will delve into the prowess of Time Series Predictive modeling, showcasing Daily Active User prediction and employing Random Forest Regression to forecast future revenues. Transitioning from Data Science to Game Design, I attempt to unveil insights into Blackjack’s intricacies through a Convolutional Neural Network.

Athanasios Chaloudis

Data Analyst - InnoGames
Athanasios is a Data Scientist holding a Master’s degree in IT Management, currently working as a Game Data Analyst at InnoGames. With a extensive knowledge in Game Design, a two-decade-long commitment to music education, over a decade of passion in gaming, and two degrees with Data Science focus, he brings forth a blend of interests & expertise, aimed, as an explorer of creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential AI, to revolutionize facets of the industry.

"Most M&A Fail: How To Prevent M&A Failure By Derisking Culture Mismatch"

Given the common trends of M&A in gaming, I will focus on the management side of it and how to setup the studio culture post-acquisition, to optimize the value from both the acquirer and seller side.

As a startup founder, you set up your culture independently, build your product, and manage to sell your company. Then, what? What are the implications in terms of culture, people, and mission after being acquired?

We often read that studios acquired remain independent after an acquisition. The reality is the acquired studio rarely stays the same, 70% of M&A actually fail to capture the planned synergy. What can we do about it, to have a smoother transition and ensure the studio’s sustainability, post-acquisition?

I will use concrete examples from my experience as a GM running a studio post-acquisition, my learnings from the M&A executive program at Imperial College, and examples from other executives who shared their learnings on the Rise and Play podcast.

Sophie Vo

Rise and Play - Founder | CEO - TBA company

Sophie is a Game Executive and Leadership Coach with over 15 years of experience working at Gameloft, Wooga, Rovio, Voodoo, and PlayStation —building studio and people’s departments, guiding teams through change, launching games, and running Live Ops.

She created in 2021 Rise and Play: a network and knowledge-sharing platform for the conscious leaders of the gaming industry who advocate for a human-centric approach to game development and teams.

 

"Options for Game Studios in Challenging Situations."

How to read the signs before it’s too late that you are finally stuck with your game project or company? What can be done then? This talk is about the situation that everyone wants to avoid, but when it happens, needs to be faced, analyzed, and acted upon.

Timm Geyer

Founder - Geyer Media Consult

As the founder of his company, Timm specialized in interim management, strategy, turnaround, and transformation programs for gaming, mobile, and portal companies. With over 25 years in gaming and digital media, he has led start-ups and multinational corporations, successfully implementing new strategies and turning companies into acquisition targets.

His background in law and executive MBA equips him for complex negotiations and M&A, while his track record includes managing turnarounds, achieving profitability, and winning awards for top-ranking games with millions of installs.

"Raising venture capital - How to approach a VC."

Are will shine a light on how venture capital investors operate and evaluate where to invest, and also go through some typical mistakes in pitches and offer some pointers and ideas for how to pitch successfully, so you can fund your dream of being your own boss of your own game company.

Are Mack Growen

Lvp. - General Partner

Are Mack Growen is a General Partner at Lvp., where he works on supporting portfolio companies and finding new opportunities. For over 12 years he worked in GM and VP roles to build game studios in Asia and the west, at Playfish, EA, gumi and others. These studios delivered multiple hits played by more than 45m users, including a number one hit in Japan and the inaugural BAFTA award for social games.

"Licensing IP into video games: A risky investment or profitable partnership?"

With data from Newzoo predicting that the global gaming market will reach a total of $184 billion by the end of 2023, there’s a growing interest in the space from non-gaming brands and IP holders who want to tap into gaming audiences. Often, this is done by integrating their IP into popular video games through in-game events, such as the limited-time character skins that frequent Fortnite, or by developing entirely new video games based on that IP, such as this year’s RoboCop: Rogue City and Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

While you can trace the roots of IP-based partnerships to the early days of arcade gaming in the late ‘80s, they’ve become an integral part of roadmaps for live-service games because of their proven ability to improve downloads and generate new revenue streams from the sale of in-game purchases. PUBG Mobile’s 2023 collaboration with Dragon Ball caused a 124.7% increase in revenue and a 52.3% increase in downloads compared to the week prior – not bad for a game with 24 million daily active users.

Of course, the benefit to Dragon Ball’s license holder is it gets the IP in front of a potential audience of 24 million players. With these mutual benefits in mind, it’s easy to understand why so many partnerships are happening right now. Internal data from Layer tracked 84 IP-based live events just in mobile games from January-June 2023, while 2023 has seen new video games based on popular IP such as Avatar, RoboCop, Bluey, King Kong, One Piece, Monopoly, Spider-Man and many more.

That said, licensing an IP into a video game isn’t without its challenges. How can you be sure that your existing players will react positively to an external IP being brought into the game? What does the process look like from a timeline and roadmap perspective? And what are some of the legal and financial considerations you need to consider before you even approach an IP holder?

Similarly, developing an IP-based video game from scratch can be challenging, too. How can you deliver a quality product if you’re working with a limited budget? And which specific aspects of the IP should you choose to focus on in your gameplay mechanics and narrative to ensure your game appeals to both fans of the IP and the demographic of players you want to target?

Rachit Moti

CEO / Co-Founder - Layer

Rachit co-founded Layer, an online intellectual property (IP) marketplace that enables game developers to connect and negotiate with the rights holders of a growing list of well-known brands. He came up with the concept for Layer after he successfully licensed a song from his now-defunct band into a NASCAR racing game and was struck by the licensing process’s legal complexities and opaque nature.

Today, Layer helps over 500+ game developers and publishers license popular IP across film, TV, anime, manga, automotive, celebrities and much more. Clients include McLaren, Playtika, Gameloft, PUMA, and the NBA. Layer’s Licensing in Games newsletter is regarded as one of the leading sources of news for licensing deals in the games industry, amassing more than 1500 subscribers from industry professionals across the video game and licensing industry.

Rachit has written about the intersection of licensing and video games for video game publications, including Gamesindustry.biz and PocketGamer, as well as leading licensing publications.

"PR is dead, long live PR (of tomorrow)."

Public Relations, as a lot of folks in the industry have known, is on its way out. Remember when the big deal was about getting covers and counting page numbers to show the bosses? Then we started tracking website impressions and all that. But what’s going to be the next big thing in PR? How’s PR going to change and grow? What’s going to be different, and how do we, as developers and PR pros, need to switch up our strategies and tactics to really connect with our audience? And seriously, where are they all hanging out these days?

Torsten Oppermann

Co-Founder, Co-CEO - 1SP Agency

I am in “the industry” since 1989. I am an Entrepreneur in Gaming, Tech, Consumer Electronics with Agencies to help clients sell more since 2001, when I co-founded my first Agency “indigo pearl”. Before that, I worked for international companies in Europe & the US, such as HASBRO, SEGA, Computec Media, etc. In 2013, we merged indigo pearl with another Agency into DELASOCIAL, a leading Social Media Agency in Germany, that we excited in 2014 via Private Equity into the Pia Group. I stayed there until 2017. In 2018, I bought 50% of an Agency called More Success Marketing, which we then name changed to MSM.digital (www.msm.digital). Quickly, we grew the company from 4 Milllion revenue to 13 Mio revenue. In 2022, we developed 1SP Agency Holding out of MSM together with a private Equity Firm and three banks to build Europe’s largest Agency Group, we call that “Superagency”, focusing on Games, Tech and Consumer Electronics. We now are 300 FTE in Europe with Offices in northern, central and southern Europe generating 60M+ of profitable Revenue.

"The State of Hyper-casual in 2024."

Simple games always had a place in the heart of players across the world. In recent years the hottest manifestation of this phenomenon were hyper-casual games, that reached an audience of billions. After years of success current market conditions force all publishers and developers to take the business model to the next level. Let’s take a look at what that means and what is Sunday’s vision for the future.

Christoph Sachsenhausen

Co-Founder & MD - Sunday

Christoph is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sunday, Hamburg’s largest mobile games company by downloads.

"A Healthy Creative Process: Why Planning Stuff During Proof of Concept is a Bad Idea"

This talk goes into detail about how we usually plan projects in the industry and explains why planning things during a proof-of-concept phase is a very bad idea. We will follow an easy to understand line of reasoning of what effects a predictive work environment has in a situation where a lot of things like gameplay, pipelines or how a team is even supposed to work together. We will compare predictive and adaptive and what both approaches have as their main goal and why teams should be very conscious of which approch to choose in which situation.
Finally, we will explore how the creative process actually works and how a predictive process impacts it in a negative way.

Guido Schmidt

Associate Executive Producer - Remedy

Guido Schmidt spent over 20 years in the game industry and worked for companies like Ubisoft, Paradox Interactive and Remedy. Starting out as a programmer he quickly transitioned into Game Design and later into Game Director roles. His focus on getting into the human psyche combined with his experience in game development created a unique understanding of how teams function, what is important when working with other people and how to become a better designer. It is the little things that make or break a game. The less tangible glue in between the cracks that make a project solid or fragile and this has been his interest for the larger part of his career. All of these experiences have culminated in his book Game Design: Impossible (https://books2read.com/GameDesignImpossible) and the sequel, which is currently in progress.

 

"Faster Horses vs Rocket-Powered Pony-corns: Learning What Your Players Really Want"

An introduction to the various methods game designers and product managers can use to better understand their players, AND apply these learnings to new games & features that players will love.

Incorporating player insights into the design process to kickstart discovery and innovation.

With case studies from Metacore and other leading mobile games.

Tim Shepherd

Product Manager - Metacore

Tim Shepherd is a Product Manager at Metacore, working with the company’s global hit game Merge Mansion. Previously working in roles such as Design Lead, Product Owner and Creative Director at companies like Activision Blizzard, Digital Chocolate and Wooga, Tim’s extensive career in the game industry has taken him across Europe from the UK to the Nordics and now, Berlin.

"Creating and sustaining a successful gaming brand."

The most profitable games in the world are franchises that retain a steady fanbase and a strong community. SteamWorld is such an IP and franchise, now in its 12th year of existence. With millions of SteamWorld games sold, the franchise is continuously being populated with new titles. SteamWorld is not only a commercial success; the games have also won numerous awards, and have been prominently featured on all the platforms where they are sold. Brjann Sigurgeirsson explains the important decisions over the years that has led to the success, and how you can create your own.

Brjann Sigurgeirsson

SteamWorld Franchise Director - Thunderful Group
Brjann Sigurgeirsson is the founder and studio head of Image & Form, the Swedish game studio behind the acclaimed, multi-million-selling SteamWorld franchise. Besides his role in development, Brjann devised the IP strategy that has turned the franchise into a global success. He is also the co-founder, former CEO and current chief evangelist of Thunderful, a group of game companies that has developed, co-developed and published hundreds of games. Thunderful Group is listed on the Stockholm Nasdaq stock exchange. Next to his wife and children, Brjann loves chess and karaoke more than anything else.
 

"The State of Web3 - What to stop and how to start."

Web3 technologies can add a substantial amount of upside for products, like games. But what are those potentials and what are the downsides? Wherein lie the pitfalls and why did no one really succeed, yet? Stefan will share his insights into the industry and the challenges that arise when working with a completely new tech.

In this 30min talk you will receive a short introduction into the blockchain technology and web3 space, paired with some history on first game attempts “back then”. Market examples and recent headlines will help to better understand the past and what’s happening today. Also, an update will be given on the latest trends and insights from the industry. Where are we heading and what to consider when actually thinking about moving into this space?

Stefan Walter

Product Director - Animoca Brands

Since 2009 Stefan orbits around the creation of games – from F2P licensed games out of South Korea, over Top10 browser and mobile games and most recently blockchain games. Stefan always tries to make use of tech and user experience to create games that meet both business needs and customer satisfaction. From Hamburg based Gamigo, over Travian, InnoGames and the global acting Animoca Brands – he has seen a lot and wants to share his latest insights.

 

"Cloud Powering Games: Using Cloud Security and Intelligent Technology to Secure, and Fuel the Growth for Games."

This talk will explore how to leverage cutting-edge cloud services to secure and foster gaming industry players’ business. As cyber threats become increasingly prevalent and pose unprecedented challenges in the gaming industry, the need for robust security has been imperative. We’ll delve into how cloud services can serve as a stalwart defender, especially against threats like DDoS attacks, fostering a secure and thriving gaming environment.

Beyond security, our focus extends to propelling industry growth. We will introduce cloud-native technologies tailored for gaming pioneers, offering cost-efficiency and unlocking new business expansion opportunities in the Asian market, together with support from our partner ecosystems.

Embark on this journey with us and explore how we can fortify the foundations of the gaming world, ensuring a resilient, secure, and innovative future together!

Leiming Zeng

Senior Solution Architect (DACH, Benelux and CEE Region) - Alibaba Cloud

Senior Solution Architect of DACH, Benelux and CEE Region. 19 years experience in the software and Internet industry, especially in system integration, consulting, cloudification, and digital transformation domains, with international and cross-cultural teams.

"Bridging East and West: The Power of Transnational Collaboration in the Gaming Industry."

The gaming landscape is evolving rapidly, and successful companies must adapt to a globalized paradigm. Drawing from own experiences, Michelle Zou, CEO of Bigpoint, a venerable Western gaming company, and a representative of the East in the dynamic world of gaming, will discuss the strategies at Bigpoint and Yoozoo Group to navigate cultural nuances, overcome challenges, and foster collaborative environments that lead to mutual success. By exploring case studies and industry trends, this talk will uncover the untapped potential that lies in international partnerships and invites you to explore the profound impact of cross-national collaboration on the gaming industry. Throughout history, East and West have encountered numerous challenges and opportunities, sparking a rich tapestry of experiences. This talk aims to delve into the lessons learned from these encounters and envision a future where transcending regional boundaries is not just a possibility but a necessity for industry growth.

Michelle Zou

CEO - Bigpoint

As the CEO of Bigpoint, Michelle is a seasoned professional with a passion for the gaming industry. Michelle’s unique journey in the industry began in 2015 when she transitioned from the consulting sector to join the vibrant world of gaming at Youzu Interactive. There, she played a pivotal role in launching several blockbuster games and IP titles, such as “Saint Seiya: Awakening” and “Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming,” showcasing her deep appreciation for both Eastern and Western gaming cultures.

This multicultural perspective became even more pronounced when Michelle later moved to Hamburg and joined Bigpoint, where she currently serves as the bridge for cross-cultural communication and oversees business operations. She firmly believes that global collaboration in the gaming industry can generate a synergistic effect, thereby providing even better gaming experiences for players worldwide.

Michelle firmly believes in the power of collaboration and innovation and looks forward to sharing her experiences during this forum and eagerly anticipates engaging with fellow industry leaders to shape the future of global gaming, ultimately delivering superior gaming products to players around the world.

Panels

Breaking Boundaries: The Evolution of Keen Games and Enshrouded (Fireside Chat)

Join us on an exciting fireside chat with Antony Christoulakis from Keen Games and Christian Haja from Hamburg Games Conference as they unravel the remarkable journey of Keen Games. From humble beginnings and diverse projects, including work-for-hire gigs and collaborations with big brands, to the unexpected rise of their self-developed survival game, Enshrouded, selling a staggering 2,000,000 units. Join us for an insightful discussion on the secrets behind their unexpected super hit.

Antony Christoulakis

Creative Director - keen games
Host 🎙️

Antony is co-founder and creative director at keen games.
He works in the games industry since quite a while, developing games for C64, Amiga and Gameboy to consoles and PC today.

Christian Haja

Project Manager - Super Crowd
Speaker

Christian is a passionate game industry expert with a track record of shipping great mobile games and building successful partnerships. With over a decade of experience across business development, strategic partnerships, marketing, monetization, data analytics, and event organization, he strives as Head of Hamburg Games Conference to create a world-leading game industry event in Hamburg. He is ardent about networking and technology and is always eager to dive into new opportunities. As co-founder and former organizer of the Baltic Dev Days game developer conference and a founding member of IF(game)SH, he is deeply committed and at the forefront of growing the game developer ecosystem.

Current State of Game Invests - Is the Market Still Alive?

Coming soon!

Joe Armstrong

Managing Director - Agnitio Capital
Panel Host 🎙️

Joe joined Agnitio Capital as a Managing Director in March 2022 and has over 20 years of experience in international M&A transactions from an adviser, investor and company management perspective.
Agnitio Capital has been advising founder-led companies in the games industry on exits and fundraises for over 15 years.
A dual qualified lawyer (in England & Wales and the State of New York, USA), after graduating from law school Joe worked at two major international law firms advising clients on numerous M&A transactions for 7 years. In 2007, Joe decided to switch into a non-legal role in private equity at Lehman Brothers and, later, Patron Capital where he was an Investment Director. In 2012, Joe transitioned into start-up company management. Most recently, Joe was Chief Operating Officer at Readly (a digital magazine subscription service) where he played a leading role in completing the company’s listing on Nasdaq Stockholm in September 2020, as well as being responsible for the company’s M&A activities. Over the years, Joe has lived and worked in 7 countries and speaks 5 languages.

Prof. Odile Limpach

Co-Founder - SpielFabrique
Speaker

Professor Odile Limpach teaches Economics and entrepreneurship at the Cologne Game Lab, TH Köln University of Applied Sciences and is managing the Incubator of the CGL. She also is co-founder of the accelerator SpielFabrique 360° and works as Strategic Consultant for serious games and cross-media projects. Between, 2007 and 2014, she was the managing director at the German entertainment software studio Blue Byte. Before she was the managing director of Ubisoft GmbH. She graduated from business school in France and completed her MBA in the USA. Odile Limpach is also involved as a volunteer in the areas of vocational training and creative industries development. Furthermore, during twenty years she acted as an advisor (CCEF) for the French Ministry for International Business Development.

Brjann Sigurgeirsson

SteamWorld Franchise Director - Thunderful
Speaker

Brjann Sigurgeirsson is the founder and studio head of Image & Form, the Swedish game studio behind the acclaimed, multi-million-selling SteamWorld franchise. Besides his role in development, Brjann devised the IP strategy that has turned the franchise into a global success. He is also the co-founder, former CEO and current chief evangelist of Thunderful, a group of game companies that has developed, co-developed and published hundreds of games. Thunderful Group is listed on the Stockholm Nasdaq stock exchange. Next to his wife and children, Brjann loves chess and karaoke more than anything else.

Are Mack Growen

General Partner - LVP
Speaker

Are Mack Growen is a General Partner at Lvp., where he works on supporting portfolio companies and finding new opportunities. For over 12 years he worked in GM and VP roles to build game studios in Asia and the west, at Playfish, EA, gumi and others. These studios delivered multiple hits played by more than 45m users, including a number one hit in Japan and the inaugural BAFTA award for social games.

Julian Riedlbauer

Partner - Drake Star Partners
Speaker

Julian started his career in tech M&A in 2008 at Corporate Finance Partners. He then spent 11 years building and leading GP Bullhound’s presence in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and was responsible for the M&A advisory in the region. Before that, he was a successful tech entrepreneur and digital manager.

He has led more than 60 mandates for well-known companies, including the financing rounds of Signavio by Summit and the late growth round of USD 177 million round by Apax Digital, the growth financing round of Mambu by Bessemer Ventures, and the exit of Infinigate to the PE Fund H.I.G, the sale of TLGG to Omnicom, the sale of Elbkind to Reply IT, the EUR 100 million sale of Astragon to Team17, the USD 68 million financing round of Lingoda by Summit, the sale of InnoGames to MTG with a valuation of EUR 260 million, the exit of Factor Eleven to Armira Private Equity and the EUR 50 million capital increase of Neura Robotics. He is a proven expert in growth equity financing rounds and company sales to strategic buyers and private equity investors.

Layoffs - How do you deal with them?

We’re currently experiencing an unseen wave of games industry and tech lay off. Thousands of people lost their jobs in the last months and it feels like there is no end in sight any time soon. But, the issue of lay offs is not new to this industry. It can also be a chance to finally do what you want and try out something new or maybe even better your former status quo. We invited international panelist who have been part of lay offs to hear their story and what they made out of this situation.

Wolf Lang

CEO - Super Crowd
Panel Host 🎙️

I’m a strong believer in a universal form of design & entertainment. Combining my 17 year knowledge in creation to develop award winning video games, award winning events and was the first to bring award winning playable online events to the market (August 2020).

As a former GDC SF Speaker, Tagesschau guest, Jury Member of the German Videogame Awards, Ambulance Car Driver, Construction Worker and Advertisement Industry employee i love to connect with people and create communication.

Currently changing the way we experience entertainment and events post pandemic with our event gamification app. Co-Founder of THREAKS GmbH and Super Crowd Entertainment GmbH.

How Web3 Enables Creative Freedom in Gaming

User-Generated Content (UGC) has become a driving force behind the evolution of the internet, empowering users to actively participate in online platforms and communities. In recent years, the emergence of Web3 technology has taken Creativity to a whole new level, providing unprecedented opportunities for users to create, own, and monetize their content. During this panel, we will explore how Web3 is enhancing creativity and collaboration.

Flavien Defraire

Director of Global Development - Blockchain Game Alliance
Panel Host 🎙️

Flavien is dedicated to fostering strong relationships with current and future members of the Blockchain Game Alliance, ensuring that the organization’s services are properly used by everyone. He also initiates, coordinates and develops strategic plans to help members gain more visibility through communication, events and partnership.

Olga Ivanova

Head of Content & Communications - Spielworks
Speaker

Being a gamer for 25+ years, Olga has always felt compelled to develop in this industry professionally as well. After having worked at IGN & Twinfinite as a journalist, she is now leading the content department at Spielworks, a Web3 gaming startup that aims to propel fun, non-invasive and accessible use of this new technology in games.

Rémy Bompar

Director LAND Ecosystem - The Sandbox
Speaker

After joining The Sandbox in 2021, Remy has now been leading the metaverse initiative structuring the map of the virtual ecosystem, coordinating the launch of new neighbourhoods and existing areas to create relevant network effects across the map.

Behfar Iranmanesh

Founder & CEO - Chrono Games
Speaker

As the CEO of Chrono Games, a Web3 gaming studio based in Hamburg, Germany, his journey from a career in Hollywood stunts to game development showcases a blend of diverse experiences and passion. Since its establishment in 2019, his innovative leadership has positioned Chrono Games as a notable entity in the Web3 gaming landscape. His unique background in high-stakes environments, combined with a lifelong enthusiasm for gaming, has endowed him with a valuable perspective on creativity and risk management, aiding the studio’s endeavors in the industry.

Indie Arena Booth - Pitch Royal @ HGC

Indie Arena Booth‘s Pitch Royal is coming back to Hamburg Games Conference for the second year in a row! Three dev teams are coming together to pitch their game to a jury of industry professionals. Not only will they be receiving insightful feedback regarding their pitch, but the winning team will also be awarded a Small Booth placement at this year’s Indie Arena Booth @ gamescom! 

Lou Kieviet

PR & Marketing Manager - Indie Arena Booth (Super Crowd)
Panel Host 🎙️

I’ve been supporting Super Crowd’s communication strategy since 2020 and quickly fell in love with their Indie Arena Booth, its devs and many success stories. After several years spent in Japan and the UK, it was finally time for me to return to Hamburg. Having previously worked with bigger IPs at both Capcom and Warner Bros., familiarising myself with the indie scene riddled with hidden gems has been nothing short of exciting!

Meg Clarke

Senior Game Scout - Team17
Jury

Meg is currently a Senior Game Scout for the award-winning British games publisher Team17, helping indie developers secure support and funding for their games. Meg has a background working in Games Production and Audio for nearly ten years working on games such as the Warhammer 40k: Darktide, Demon’s Souls, Forza Horizon 5, Vermintide 2 and Supermassive’s Dark Pictures Anthology.

Frank Meijer

Game Scout & Developer Relations - Dotemu
Jury

Frank is a former games journalist turned PR turned games scout and has worked for Those Awesome Guys, tinyBuild, and is currently scouting for both Focus Entertainment and Dotemu. Most people know him from the many bags of stroopwafels (delicious Dutch cookies) he usually brings to events, although now that he lives in Paris those might become macarons instead.

Trisha Lee

Co-Founder - PATI
Jury

Trisha is an avid indie game lover and seasoned business developer in gaming industry. During her tenure as Senior Business Development Manager at Kepler Interactive, she spearheaded scouting for publishing, project financing and other commercial offerings of Kepler Group. Prior, at Utomik, she had a blast formulating the content strategy for the platform and building a portfolio of 1400+ premium PC titles in a team of two. Currently, as Co-Founder of PATI, a gaming biz dev consultancy firm, she is facilitating fundraising sales and bundles for charity organizations, connecting her passion for games and social impact. Beyond her professional pursuits, Trisha finds joy in painting, solving puzzles, and engaging in lively discussions about food, anime, and offbeat indie treasures.

Melvin Frank

Product Manager - INSTINCT3
Jury

Melvin Frank began his professional career in science and ministerial administration, focusing on digital policy and the management of funding programs. Upon entering the gaming industry as an executive assistant within the I3 group of companies (including INSTINCT3, Eintracht Spandau, I3 Holding), he gained experience in influencer marketing, esports, and content creation on social media. He collaborated with some of the most influential German-speaking figures in gaming and esports. Currently, he is leading the establishment of the indie publishing branch of the company, centered around HandOfBlood and INSTINCT3.

Meet the Finalists

Shards Between Us

Escaping Atlantis

Legal Roundtable: State of the Art of Artificial Intelligence use cases in the Games and Entertainment Industries

When it comes to the economic possibilities, the potential of generative AI almost seems limitless. However and as always, there are legal restrictions in the use of technology. Especially Personality Rights, Data Protection Law and Copyright Law limit the use of generative AI (kind of). Therefore, we want to discuss the lawful possibilities to train an AI and to use AI-outputs. Furthermore, it is important to determine if AI-outputs are protected as intellectual property as only then there is a potential for a commercial exploitation.

Dr. Ralph Oliver Graef

Managing Partner / Lawyer - GRAEF Rechtsanwälte
Panel Host 🎙️

DR. RALPH OLIVER GRAEF, LL.M. (NEW YORK UNIVERSITY) is Managing Part-ner and founder of the media law firm GRAEF Rechtsanwälte. He is qualified as a certi-fied specialist for copyright- and media law as well as a certified specialist for intellectu-al property law and also admitted as Attorney-at-law to the New York Bar, USA. He serves as an arbitrator of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, L.A. (IFTA), the global trade association of the independent motion picture and television industry. Ralph Oliver Graef is recommended by the publishers of the leading legal market handbooks JUVE and Legal 500 for the areas “TV, Film & Entertainment” and “Press & Publish-ing” (Legal 500 Directory, JUVE Directory of Commercial Law Firms, Legal Experts Europe). He is recognized to be one of Germany’s best attorneys in Entertainment Law (“Deutschlands beste Anwälte”) by Handelsblatt/Best Lawyers.

Fabian Stößer

Lawyer - GRAEF Rechtsanwälte
Speaker

Fabian Stößer, LL.M. (UCT), LL.M. (UoC) studied law in Muenster, Cologne and Cape Town and is lawyer at the media law firm GRAEF Rechtsanwälte. He is specialised on legal issues regarding media law, IT and data protection law as well as general contract law. Fabian Stößer gives various lectures with focus on new media and technologies.

Licensing and Games, a Match Made in Heaven?

We’re all familiar with them—big blockbuster games inspired by renowned IPs such as Star Wars or Avatar. But must an entire game be dedicated to a single brand? Are collaborations confined to specific IPs, or is the sky the limit? What’s involved in partnering with these major brands, and what alternative avenues await exploration? Embark with us on an enthralling journey into the realm of licensing.

Christian Haja

Project Manager - Super Crowd
Panel Host 🎙️

Christian is a passionate game industry expert with a track record of shipping great mobile games and building successful partnerships. With over a decade of experience across business development, strategic partnerships, marketing, monetization, data analytics, and event organization, he strives as Head of Hamburg Games Conference to create a world-leading game industry event in Hamburg. He is ardent about networking and technology and is always eager to dive into new opportunities. As co-founder and former organizer of the Baltic Dev Days game developer conference and a founding member of IF(game)SH, he is deeply committed and at the forefront of growing the game developer ecosystem.

Eva Pfister

Partnerships - Tabbler
Speaker

I worked for war gaming when I was a student, tapped into the corporate world, lived abroad in Mexico and the USA working Volkswagen for 6 years, and developed the manufacturing plants overseas. I left the corporate world to use my broad business development knowledge in start-ups within the marketing field. Now found my way back to the gaming world and joined Tabbler, a mobile gaming start-up within the Applike Group in Hamburg.

Tobias Edl

Director Marketing & New Business - Whow Games
Speaker

Tobias joined Whow Games back in 2018, but he spent the previous seventeen years working also with media outlets, including Interactive Media (now Stroer), the leading marketer of digital media in Germany. This was his first step into the business; from there it was only a short step into the game industry in Hamburg. During twenty years in the game industry he worked for such companies as InnoGames and King.com where he ran the International Business Development unit.

Tung Nguyen-Khac

Co Founder - VIZTA Digital
Speaker

Tung Nguyen-Khac is Co-Founder of VIZTA Digital, the game studio developing KUTUR Runway, a next gen 3D Mobile Fashion Game. He has substantial experience as a leader of gaming and media organisations im either turnaround situations or expanding media businesses through organic growth and acquisition. Tung was board advisor to Deca Games, Kongregate and MTG and was a co founder of WHOW Games. Before, Tung held CEO positions at Spil Games and the gaming subsidiary of German TV media group ProSiebenSat.1.
He was a managing partner and CEO advisor at Bigpoint from 2004 to 2010 and has a media and corporate banking background when working at Bertelsmann Media Group and the German subsidiary of Unicredit.
Tung holds a Master in Political Science from the University of Munich and has been a frequent author of academic papers on the media, gaming and finance.

When is a good moment to o̶p̶e̶n close a game studio?

 It’s the big industry elephant in the room at the moment: Lay-Offs and Closing down studios. But although you might know everything from a million talks about opening up a game studio, we’re likely you haven’t seen many talks about closing a studio. Due to the current industry climate we decided to change that and gathered a diverse group of current and former industry CEOs with Closing down or almost Closing down studio stories. Openly talking about the chances and risks of closing your game studio.

Wolf Lang

CEO - Super Crowd
Panel Host 🎙️

I’m a strong believer in a universal form of design & entertainment. Combining my 17 year knowledge in creation to develop award winning video games, award winning events and was the first to bring award winning playable online events to the market (August 2020). As a former GDC SF Speaker, Tagesschau guest, Jury Member of the German Videogame Awards, Ambulance Car Driver, Construction Worker and Advertisement Industry employee i love to connect with people and create communication.Currently changing the way we experience entertainment and events post pandemic. Super Crowd is responsible for organizing Hamburg Games Conference, Indie Arena Booth and Polaris.

Julian Mautner

CEO - stillalive studios
Speaker

Julian Mautner is the founder and CEO of stillalive studios. Since 2010 he has built up an internationally recognized studio focusing on cross-platform development of Open World Simulation games. The experienced team of ~75 is working from Innsbruck (Austria), with a second office in Turku (Finland) and has a strong tech background. Stillalive is best known for their reliably successful Bus Simulator franchise as well as their own IPs like Drone Swarm. Beyond his work as CEO Julian is also board member of the “Pioneers of Game Development Austria” (PGDA) (co)representing the Austrian games industry internationally.

Astrid Refstrup

Developer Relations & Business Development - Wings
Speaker

Formerly the CEO of Triple Topping Games and an advisor to Kowloon Nights. Now working for Wings. Astrid has not only pioneered feminism in games but has also made waves in the indie game space!

Michael Schade

CEO & Co-Founder - Rockfish Games
Speaker

Michael is a serial entrepreneur, marketing & PR expert, and seasoned speaker with over 30 years of experience in the CGI / video games industry. He co-founded ROCKFISH Games as a fully independent games studio specializing in space action games for PC and console in 2014.

Workshops

"The Current Challenges for Public and Private Funding in Europe"

In this workshop, we will analyze the current state of financing channels in the gaming market. We will examine both the public and private perspectives. Additionally, we will introduce LE CLUB, a European gaming investment club designed to unlock new financing opportunities and facilitate exchange among stakeholders.

Prof. Odile Limpach

Co-Founder - SpielFabrique

Professor Odile Limpach teaches Economics and entrepreneurship at the Cologne Game Lab, TH Köln University of Applied Sciences and is managing the Incubator of the CGL. She also is co-founder of the accelerator SpielFabrique 360° and works as Strategic Consultant for serious games and cross-media projects. Between, 2007 and 2014, she was the managing director at the German entertainment software studio Blue Byte. Before she was the managing director of Ubisoft GmbH. She graduated from business school in France and completed her MBA in the USA. Odile Limpach is also involved as a volunteer in the areas of vocational training and creative industries development. Furthermore, during twenty years she acted as an advisor (CCEF) for the French Ministry for International Business Development.