Interview

White Nights CEO Summit: Games industry leaders set to gather in Cyprus

White Nights CEO Summit: Games industry leaders set to gather in Cyprus

The White Nights Conference series is set to welcome a brand new event in Cyprus this year: the CEO Summit on April 26th to 27th.

But why did the organisers choose a brand new format for this particular conference and how will it differ from its regular events?

White Nights Conference chief coordinator Julia Lebedeva shares the details.

The White Nights Conference was previously held three times a year, but now you've added a fourth event. Will it still be the same familiar White Nights?

Julia Lebedeva: The event we plan to do in Cyprus will not be like our classic White Nights Conference at all.

We wanted to make a unique, intimate event that will provide an environment where leaders can share their experience and concerns in a setting of openness and trust. Without show-offs. No press. No sales managers.

That’s how the idea of making an exclusive event for the games industry's top managers appeared.

White Nights Conference chief coordinator Julia Lebedeva

As well as a key difference between the CEO Summit and regular conferences being the narrowed C-level-only audience, will the structure of the event be different as well?

There are quite a few differences. The audience - only top managers - the topics that will be discussed, the number of attendees.

For example, GDC is a really cool conference, but if you need to meet someone you have to schedule meetings with them in advance because it's difficult to catch up with a specific person at such a big event.

At the White Nights Conferences it can be pretty hard as well. At the upcoming conference in St. Petersburg, for instance, we are expecting up to 2,000 attendees. It might be challenging to find C-level executives among all of them. The CEO Summit will gather 300 attendees and all of them will be top managers.

In addition, the classic White Nights Conferences include a big exhibition area, a developer showcase and several lecture tracks run in parallel. Every participant has their own business goals, whether it’s the need to sell/buy something, to collect feedback, or to give away business cards to as many people as they can.

We wanted to make a unique, intimate event that will provide an environment where leaders can share their experience and concerns in a setting of openness and trust.

At the Summit there won’t be an exhibition area as such and there will be only one lecture hall. The programme will mostly consist of panel discussions, where regular White Nights Conferences mostly feature numerous solo sessions. We want to create a space for an open dialogue between games industry leaders.

Those are the people thinking about the future of the games industry, trying to improve existing technologies and to create something completely new, striving to push the industry forward. Trying to achieve the same goals as most of us are.

Of course, some of them you are already in touch with, you can even run into each other a couple of times a year, but how often do you actually meet and discuss important things?

Now imagine all of the decision makers aregathered in one place - some of them you already know, and some you’ve never met before - and they are all there to discuss important issues that everyone cares about, yet not always have time to discuss.

What do you mean by top managers?

Top managers are founders of companies, business owners, CEOs, COOs, presidents and vice presidents (it’s more typical for Western companies).

In some cases it could be business development directors, if they are involved in their company’s decision making. If we are talking about some huge corporations, then heads of departments will also be suitable for the event.

Business development managers, sales managers, game designers, developers won’t be able to buy a ticket and get to the Summit.

How will you screen out attendees? What if, say, there is a team of indie developers with two-to-three multitasking employees who are CEO/game designers/sales managers at the same time? Would the CEO Summit be interesting for them, and they to the Summit?

If you are talking about a newly gathered indie team, then no, they are not the target audience in this case.

First of all, the main filter for them will be the ticket price of €1,000. But if we are talking about teams that have already succeeded in something and have grown up to a couple of dozen employees, yet still consider themselves as indies, then sure, the doors are open for them.

To participate in the Summit you need to apply first. Priority will be given to top managers of games companies - they usually receive a confirmation with a payment link within one or two days. For C-level executives of service companies we have reserved 15 per cent of all tickets.

The number of places is limited. We are expecting 300 people only. Half of the tickets are already booked.

The White Nights Conference in Prague 2018

Can you share with us the topics that will be discussed at the Summit?

Yes, of course. We are actually working on the program right now. Usually, conferences try to cover a wide range of aspects of game development, such as game design, programming, marketing, project management, promotion, market research etc.

The program of the CEO Summit will feature several panel discussions focused on:

  • Life / Work Balance
  • Growing Global Business and Company
  • Legal / Finance / Taxes
  • Human Resources & Corporate Culture

Why these particular topics? Business owners and company leaders have to make lots of important decisions such as:

How to grow a successful company? What development strategy to choose? Is it a good idea to let someone invest in your company or not? And if it is, where do you find investors and what the terms and conditions should be? How to build your internal and external communications? How to retain employees in the company? Where do you find the new ones? How to motivate them? Which jurisdiction to choose? How to protect a company from a legal point of view? And, most importantly, how to solve all these issues and not to go crazy? How to find time for a life outside of work?

There will be only three presentations in two days and each one of them will last 45 minutes. Those are going to be high-quality keynotes with really interesting and inspirational topics.

The following speakers have already confirmed their participation:

  • Jaakko Harlas, Strategic Finance, Supercell
  • Henry Lowenfels, SVP, Business Development, Scopely
  • Marek Rabas, CEO, Madfinger Games
  • Sergey Orlovsky, CEO and Founder, Nival
  • Stanislav Rodnyanskiy, CEO, RJ Games
  • Chris Early, VP of Partnerships and Revenue, Ubisoft
  • Tom A.C. Van Dam, Head of Mobile BD, NetEase
  • Vladimir Nikolsky, COO, Mail.ru
  • Fawzi Mesmar, Studio Game Design Director, King

The full list of speakers will be available in April. If you really want to know more, you can text me on Telegram (@Julia_Lebedeva), and I may be able to tell you who else will attend. It’s a secret though.

Will the format of presentations and panel discussions differ from the regular lectures at the White Nights Conferences?

We plan to make panel discussions last for an hour and a half, instead of the usual 60 minutes. I'm sure there will be a lot of questions, including the ones from the audience, and 60 minutes simply will not be enough.

There will be only three presentations in two days and each one of them will last 45 minutes. Those are going to be high-quality keynotes with really interesting and inspirational topics. For example, one of the keynotes will be on the future of digital entertainment.

The summit will take place in the cultural centre called Limassol Marina. There will be one hall with a stage that will lead to separate lounge zones so that you will be able to listen to speakers and participate in discussions, as well as communicate with other attendees.

There will be neither streaming, nor video recording at the Summit.

Are there any other activities planned at the Summit? How are you going to encourage communication between the attendees?

There are going to be two networking parties held on April 25th and April 26th. I believe this is one of the most productive ways of communication between different people.

In addition, there are a couple ideas on how to make networking at the event more productive during these two days, but I'll tell you about it a bit later. Now we are making all efforts to prepare a cool programme.

Why hold the CEO Summit in Cyprus?

I went to Cyprus on a vacation a couple years ago and back then only Wargaming was based there. Years have past and Cyprus has emerged into a real hub for game companies, and I know that lots of companies who are not there yet are really interested in this location.

And it’s mostly top managers who do the research and evaluate the potential moves, so Limassol seemed like a perfect place for the Summit.

Besides, April to May is a really nice season there, so you may get a chance to combine business and pleasure and have a nice break in sunny Cyprus.

There are more interesting announcements about the CEO Summit to come, but I strongly recommend you to apply for an attendee pass right now. Registration will close once we reach the limit.

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