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Gaming Insiders announce GI 30

The coming year's most influential people in the gaming industry are named

Founded by serial entrepreneur David Kaye, Gaming Insiders is an elite community of leaders in the games industry brought together for exchanging ideas and discussing business challenges in a private setting. The goal of the Gaming Insiders 30 is to identify the people who, in the eyes of the gaming community, will have the greatest creative, technical or financial impact on the games industry during the next twelve months.

The nominees for the list were accepted from any part of the gaming ecosystem, including development, distribution and financing. Nominations were collected from all members of the Gaming Insiders community and advisory board. The list members are alphabetized, and no ranking is express or implied. Descriptions and quotes are pulled from comments by the nominators.

The first annual Gaming Insiders Summit is the next incarnation of the Gaming Insiders group - a dedicated one-day forum to drive the most effective conversations and connections within the most powerful community of industry leaders. For more information, please visit http://gaminginsiders.com.

Maria Alegre

Maria Alegre, CEO, Chartboost: "Maria had the vision of radically changing the way developers monetized and distributed their games, with full transparency and control which were lacking at that time. In less than two years, Maria and the team have executed, becoming the biggest only-game cross-promo platform."

Kenshi Arasaki, Co-Founder, A Thinking Ape: Probably the most successful bootstrapped gaming company in the world (top line revenue wise).

Jason Bailey, CEO, Eastside Games: "Jason is the founder of L33dr.ly a new startup building a dynamic social leaderboard API for mobile games with a unique twist. He's already raised a bunch of money and his experience as CEO/co-founder of East Side Games definitely gives him an unfair advantage. Between that experience and the network that East Side Games has developed with the indie gaming community, I believe Jason and L33dr.ly will definitely make an impact in the next 12 months"."Mastermind behind l33dr.ly and East Side Games. A serial entrepreneur, and someone who tells it like it is. Think the next 12 months will only get more interesting when he finds his next hit product(s)".

Brandon Beck, CEO, Riot Games: Along with co-founder Marc Merrill, he has built League of Legends and eSports into a huge global phenomenon.

Jan Beckers, CEO, Hitfox Group: "Jan Beckers has now started roughly six thriving companies (e.g. Sponsorpay, HitFox Group, AppLift) in the games industry ecosystem. He has touched all sides of gaming from consoles to online to mobile, works with the top games developers in the world, speaks and is a visionary at most of the major conferences and was recently named the top Next 100 Digital Entrepreneur in Europe. He is, most importantly, well respected and adored in the industry." "Jan is accelerating speed and influence in the b2b business and will be at the pulse of the industy's changing needs."

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon: Jeff Bezos deserves mention for obvious reasons. If Amazon delivers on a set top box where games can be played, it will change the landscape of not only gaming but media consumption.

Mark Cerny, Lead Architect PlayStation 4, Sony: Giving Sony a fighting chance to retake the top console spot with PS4.

Kevin Chou, CEO, Kabam: "Greatest pivot in the gaming space (from enterprise social networks to [Facebook] communities to [Facebook] games to mobile games to mobile game publishing)"

Dan Connors, CEO, Telltale: "Dan has built an incredible creative team that is pushing the boundaries of interactive storytelling across a very broad range of platforms."

Giordano Contestabile, Co-Founder, Tilting Point: "Trying to fix a publishing model that's broken in this industry with Tilting Point. Look forward to seeing if they can fix it, and find success with their model."

Walter Driver, CEO, Scopely: Walter is a visionary in the mobile games industry. At Scopely, he's reinventing the way that games are developed and distributed, addressing many of the issues that traditional mobile publishers present to developers. Walter has devised an approach that provides true value independent teams, empowering them to massive success. Additionally, Scopely's heavily curated approach and dedication to only publishing games that have the ability to hit the top of the charts is very unique.

Will Harbin, CEO, Kixeye: "Pushed ARPDAUs in Facebook games to nearly an order of magnitude higher than what Zynga was achieving and was among the first to successfully marry free-to-play, hardcore gamers, and a loyal community. Should not be counted out as they are about to debut their foray into mobile."

David Helgason

David Helgason, CEO, Unity: "For a variety of business and technical reasons, Unity is really the only 3D game engine worth considering for smartphone and tablet development. How CEO Helgason leverages that position over the next year will partially determine what sort of games we see on those platforms."

Robert Kotick, CEO, Activision Blizzard: "Though criticized by some for being seemingly slow to adapt to changing industry trends, he leads one of the few companies that can reliably bring a billion dollar IP to market and realize its full potential."

Mitch Lasky, General Partner, Benchmark Capital: "Arguably the leading VC in gaming. Mitch Lasky is one of the only investors I know who has deep conviction around games investing."

Ken Levine, President, Irrational Games: Pushing the quality bar up and keeping the traditional console industry innovative.

Gabe Leydon, CEO, Machine Zone: "App Store pioneer and a tireless entrepreneur."

Palmer Luckey, Founder, Oculus VR: His vision may well bring virtual reality to a broad audience.

Pony Ma

Pony Ma, CEO, Tencent: Tencent has quietly become an immense global force in the games business. In addition to their corporate development moves with companies like Riot and Activision, their in-house assets are staggering.

Don Mattrick, CEO, Zynga: "By the virtue of his new position as CEO, Mattrick has at his disposal a still-large (albeit shrinking) user base, tremendous financial resources, and some talent still within his organization. Can he bring it all to bear and get Zynga to fulfill its potential? He can't just sit - he has to act. We'll know a lot in 12 months, but he will have a significant impact - one way or the other."

Akira Morikawa, President, NHN Corporation: "WeChat alone will likely have a serious impact on the global gaming market in the next year - to say nothing of all their other initiatives. Like WeChat, LINE is on a tear having reached 100M users in 19 months. For reference, it took Twitter 49 months and Facebook 54 months to achieve that benchmark. LINE's parent company, NHN (which runs Hangame), is a long-time free-to-play giant and has deep knowledge and tech with which to press that advantage/momentum. LINE's game revenue traction is already impressive and discovery via these types of chat apps could be a disruptive force in the mobile gaming space in the coming quarters."

Kazuki Morishita, CEO, GungHo Entertainment: The company's mobile hit Puzzle & Dragons is a billion-dollar franchise.

Ilkka Paananen, CEO, Supercell: "Ilkka has led an amazing team who has reinvented freemium. They've driven the general market to enjoy deeper experiences and to spend in mobile games with innovative concepts in genres where we thought no innovation was possible."

Markus Pasula, CEO, Grand Cru: His well-funded Finnish startup is bidding to become a major mobile player with Supernauts.

Markus Persson

Markus Persson, Founder, Mojang: Creator of Minecraft, which continues to dominate the charts, inspire countless clones, and consume infinite hours of young gamers' time.

Sundar Pichai, SVP, Chrome and Android, Google: As a senior vice president at Google where he oversees Android, Chrome and Google Apps, Sundar will have a deep impact on the landscape of gaming.

John Pleasants, Co-President, Disney Interactive: "JP may be out in six months, but if he's not, it means Infinity found traction and Disney's other first-party projects are launching and looking good. IPs like Marvel and Star Wars have the gravity to affect consumer behavior in myriad ways that will influence other game makers. Hardware choices, SSO implementation, Facebook integration, marketing trends and costs, etc.".

Torsten Reil, CEO, NaturalMotion: NaturalMotion's upcoming slate of titles is impressive and they apply a unique patience to their game development that in the ends provides an ultimately superior product.

Chris Roberts, Chairman, Cloud Imperium: With Star Citizen, he has demonstrated a new level of innovation in crowd-funding, marketing and selling virtual goods for a free-to-play game before it is released.

Riccardo Zacconi, CEO, King: "Riccardo worked his way through the industry in the last 10 years and is likely to go public in an IPO that might draw a better light on the industry again and limit the damage Zynga has done."

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Steve Peterson

Contributor/[a]list daily senior editor

Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.