Game Changers top game startup list returns with Lightspeed, GamesBeat and Nasdaq

Game Changers top game startup list returns with Lightspeed, GamesBeat and Nasdaq

After a successful inaugural year, industry-leading judges and mentors team up again with Lightspeed and GamesBeat to accelerate extraordinary startups in gaming and interactive media.

Winners of the Game Changers program will receive widespread media coverage through GamesBeat, access to an exclusive growing Game Changers community, and 1:1 mentoring and interactions with industry leaders across gaming, technology, and interactive media.

Award honorees can enjoy these benefits free of charge without giving up equity. While startup representatives are not required to attend in person, we’re looking forward to hosting this and last year’s winners, as well as our judges and mentors, for a “Game Changers Reception” around the GamesBeat Summit in San Francisco on October 29, 2024.

Peer nominations and self-submissions for Game Changers 2025 are now open online.Apply to Game Changers

Lil Snack & GamesBeat

GamesBeat is excited to partner with Lil Snack to have customized games just for our audience! We know as gamers ourselves, this is an exciting way to engage through play with the GamesBeat content you have already come to love. Start playing games now!

Anyone can nominate startups or apply on behalf of their own companies. The submission deadline is 11:59 pm PT on Sunday, September 15, 2024.

Winners will receive widespread media attention, including a feature on the Nasdaq Tower in Times Square.

This year’s theme: A celebration of resilience and adaptation

For more than 50 years, video games have profoundly shaped consumer behavior and acted as a catalyst for significant technological innovation. As we spend an ever-increasing time of our lives in immersive virtual worlds, gaming is expected to continue its pivotal role in how we play, work, and connect.

The gaming industry has had to adapt significantly to ongoing changes. That’s why this year’s selection will place a specific emphasis on ideas and strategies that demonstrate a startup’s ability to withstand the challenges facing the gaming industry, while innovating and excelling in an ever-evolving landscape.

Startup categories

Lightspeed has partnered with GamesBeat and Nasdaq to honor this new breed of gaming companies. We’re asking the gaming, media, technology, and venture communities to nominate the best startups across five key categories.

Focus categories for Game Changers 2025.

Supported by an unparalleled group of industry leaders, judges, and mentors

Last year, we received an immense number of quality entries, and given the recent pace of innovation, we’re hoping for even more. Lightspeed partners and GamesBeat editors narrow the list of entries to an even 100. Finalist entries are then submitted to a star panel of C-level executives and senior-level operators across Activision BlizzardAmazonBungieByteDanceCall of DutyDeepMindDisneyElectronic ArtsEpic GamesGoldman SachsGoogleInworld AIKingKraftonLeague of LegendsMcKinseyMetaMicrosoftNCsoftNianticOculusRiot GamesStanford UniversityTake-Two InteractiveTencentTikTokUberUnityUnreal EngineValveYouTube GamingXboxZynga, and others.

Judges will score finalists on a scale of 1 – 5, considering the company’s levels of innovation and potential to adapt and excel in an ever-evolving industry landscape. Each startup will then have an average score, and the top 25 scoring finalists will be announced as our 2025 Game Changers!

Game Changers judges include today’s leaders in gaming and interactive media.
We’re excited to have many return judges and new supporters.
  • Allen Adham, Co-Founder and fr. Chief Design Officer at Blizzard Entertainment (New)
  • Anna Sweet, CEO of Bad Robot Games
  • Ben Feder, Managing Partner of Tirta Ventures
  • Bonnie Rosen, General Manager of Disney Accelerator
  • Chris Bell, CEO & Game Director of Gardens Interactive (New, and one of last year’s winners)
  • Danny Lange, Vice President of BI & AI at Google
  • Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer of GamesBeat
  • Jim Yang, President of Hoyoverse / miHoYo (New)
  • Joe Tung, Co-Founder & CEO of Theorycraft Games (New)
  • Johanna Faries, President of Blizzard Entertainment (New)
  • John Hanke, Founder & CEO of Niantic
  • John W. Thompson, Fr. Chairman of Microsoft
  • Ken Wee, Chief Strategy Officer of Activision Blizzard
  • Kylan Gibbs, Co-Founder & CEO of Inworld AI
  • Leo Olebe, VP of Global Partnerships at Microsoft Xbox
  • Maria Park, Vice President of Corporate Development at Krafton
  • Michael Chow, Co-Founder & CEO of The Believer Company
  • Mihir Vaidya, Chief Strategy Officer of Electronic Arts (New)
  • Moritz Baier-Lentz, Partner at Lightspeed
  • Riccardo Zacconi, Co-Founder and fr. CEO of King (New)
  • Songyee Yoon, Fr. President & Chief Strategy Officer of NCsoft (New)
  • V Pappas, Fr. COO of TikTok

Guiding principles

We want to draw attention to the companies that deserve recognition and a wider reach, so we tap the combined analytical and journalistic reach of Lightspeed and GamesBeat.

To be eligible, companies have to:

  1. Be part of the gaming industry (see five categories above),
  2. Be no more than five years old (founded in 2019 or later), and
  3. Have no more than 50 full-time employees

Our goal is to continue curating an annual list that is unique, original, and valuable for the industry. The process will always be fair and transparent. The nomination form is globally available (self-nominations are possible as well). Peers can nominate each other, and our hand-selected judges will guide the final and democratic selection of winners.

In addition to a startup’s vision, caliber, and execution, we will also focus on the team’s diversity, ensuring the inclusion of historically marginalized people (including women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community).

Impressions from last year

Apply or nominate a startup today

Peer nominations and self-submissions for Game Changers 2025 are now open online.

Apply to Game Changers

Anyone can nominate startups or apply on behalf of their own companies. The submission deadline is 11:59 pm PT on Sunday, September 15, 2024.

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