Call of Duty GM Johanna Faries to speak at GamesBeat at The Game Awards


Johanna Faries, senior vice president at Activision Blizzard and general manager of Call of Duty, will be a speaker at our event, GamesBeat at The Game Awards on December 7 at LA Live’s Grammy Museum.

We’ll be holding a half a day of panels on gaming’s intersection with culture, such as gaming and Hollywood. Our theme is “Pixels to Pop Culture” with all that suggests. You can sign up here and use this code GBGA23DEAN100 for $100 off the ticket price.

Faries will speak with me and Annie Belfield, Americas lead for cross platform gaming at Tiktok in a session entitled “Why Call of Duty is more than just a game.”

Faries is responsible for Call of Duty, for one of the biggest gaming and entertainment brands in the world and the No. 1 selling console gaming franchise in the U.S. for more than a decade.

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In her role, Faries oversees Call of Duty’s franchise-wide commercial and business operations globally, including its annual premium blockbuster releases and free-to-play live operations. In addition to driving annual and long-range strategic planning for the franchise, Faries works to deliver always-on cross-functional excellence in close collaboration with Call of Duty’s development, central technology, publishing, and operations teams.

In 2022, Faries helped lead the franchise to historic success, including the record-breaking release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, which grossed over $1 billion in sales in its first 10 days. Faries joined Activision Blizzard in 2018, leading the company’s esports leagues division – including the formation and management of the global city-based Call of Duty League and the World Series of Warzone. During Faries’ tenure, the CDL hit several major milestones in its inaugural season, including Championship Weekend becoming the most-watched esports event in franchise history.

A graduate of Harvard University, Faries was named 2022 Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal and one of Variety500 Business Leaders and Variety Entertainment Gaming Leaders Class of 2022. Prior honors include being recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Sports by both Sports Illustrated and Adweek, as well as one of FORTUNE’s 40 Under 40 most influential business leaders.

Faries is a sports industry veteran, having served 12 years at the National Football League at its League Office Headquarters in New York City. She has also held executive positions in a broad range of diversity and inclusion and career development and mentorship programs, and continues to do so as executive champion of Activision Blizzard’s Black Employee Network.

Our other speakers include Randy Pitchford, founder of Gearbox Entertainment; Ari Arad, president at Arad Productions; Nick Tuosto, managing director of Griffin Gaming Partners and head of gaming at Liontree; Russell Binder, founding partner of Striker Entertainment; Jordan Fragen, writer at GamesBeat; Meg Tucker of Games at Google Cloud; Mike Delaet, global head of digital gaming at Mattel; Michael Metzger, partner at Drake Star Partners; Danny Bilson, chair of the Interactive Media and Games Division and is director of USC Games; and Mike Minotti, managing editor at GamesBeat.

Randy Pitchford

Randy Pitchford is founder of Gearbox Entertainment.
Randy Pitchford is founder of Gearbox Entertainment.

Pitchford has been in the video game industry for more than 30 years and is the founder of the Gearbox
Entertainment Company, which develops and publishes award-winning and best-selling video games
through its subsidiaries, Gearbox Software and Gearbox Publishing, and produces groundbreaking film
and television content. It’s now part of the Embracer Group.

Gearbox is a recognized triple-A studio and was nominated as a “Best Place to Work” by the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Business Journal. Pitchford has created, developed, produced, directed, written, designed, and otherwise driven or significantly contributed to some of the most successful and famous video game franchises of all time.

From leading the creation of the critically acclaimed, record-breaking original franchises Borderlands and Brothers in Arms to helping build industry-leading, genre-defining games with licensed properties including Half-Life and Halo, Pitchford is one of the most impactful and respected video game developers in the world.

His credited titles across generations and platforms have sold more than 100 million units generating billions of dollars in revenue. Pitchford is commitment to bringing joy to lives of others is manifest in more than video games through various charities.

In 2009, as executive producer, Randy Pitchford launched Borderlands, the fastest selling new video game brand of the year. Borderlands was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and other digital platforms worldwide in October of 2009 to earn universal critical acclaim and record-setting
sales. He has 700,000 followers on X (formerly Twitter). Gee, I hope he tweets about us.

Ari Arad

Ari Arad is president of Arad Productions.

Ari Arad followed in his father Avi Arad’s footsteps and has spent his career in the film and television industry, bringing to life adaptations of his favorite comics, video games, and graphic novels.

Ari began his journey at Village Roadshow. In 2001, he joined Marvel Studios, where he was an executive
producer and co-producer on numerous adaptation films including Ghost Rider (Columbia Pictures), and the critically acclaimed Iron Man (Paramount Pictures).

In June 2006, Ari embarked on a new venture, cofounding Arad Productions with Avi Arad. As president, he produced films such as Ghost in the Shell (Paramount Pictures/Amblin Partners), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Columbia Pictures), and Uncharted (Columbia Pictures).

Ari’s current slate includes films based on Borderlands (Lionsgate), Naruto (Lionsgate), One Punch Man (Columbia Pictures), Metal Gear Solid (Columbia Pictures), and several other eagerly anticipated projects. Additionally, Ari is expanding his creative horizons into television with upcoming projects like Mass Effect (Amazon Studios). And Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto recently tweeted that he is working on a live-action film based on The Legend of Zelda with Ari’s father Avi Arad.

Ari Arad will talk about the broad trend of games and its intersection with Hollywood, and we’ll have a familiar figure, to be announced later, who will speak in a fireside chat with Ari.

Pixels to Pop Culture

Russell Binder is founding partner at Striker Entertainment.

First, I have to point out we’re not affiliated with The Game Awards. Geoff Keighley’s thing will likely draw more than 100 million viewers to a total celebration of gaming. We’ll be happy if we can get 250 people to fill the lovely Clive Davis Theater at The Grammy Museum at LA Live. You can think of us as the unofficial preshow for the official preshow. We’ll have a fine party the night before on December 6 and an intimate event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or so on December 7. It’s going to be a small group.

We still have room for sponsors, and I am still recruiting speakers. Our theme is a familiar one, but it feels like it is happening on a grand scale. It’s so grand, in fact, that it’s easy to overlook.

Our theme is Pixels to Pop Culture, and that is a recognition that gaming culture has become mass culture. Once the domain of nerds, it’s now part of the mass market. We see signs of that everywhere. This year, we saw gaming rise even higher with The Last of Us on HBO and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which generated $1.36 billion and was viewed by 169.84 million people.

One of our previously announced speakers is Russell Binder, founding partner of Striker Entertainment, a longtime Hollywood agency. He sees a hub and spoke model for entertainment. At the center of that hub is an intellectual property, such as a world created by amazing artists, and the spokes are media like games, movies, TV, toys, comics, tabletop games and more. When it works well, we get awesome transmedia experiences like Mattel’s Barbie.

Striker’s clients include AMC, ScottGames, WonderStorm, Media Rights Capital, Ghost House, Alcon Entertainment, Dread XP, Squanch Games, and Mythical Games amongst others. Properties, both previously and currently represented, include:  The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, Pacific Rim, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Kick Ass, TED, Terminator Salvation, The Umbrella Academy, and many others. Striker has built on behalf of its clients $4 billion retail programs for The Twilight Saga, The Walking Dead, Angry Birds and Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Binder will be one of our speakers alongside Nick Tuosto (who is taking the place of his colleague Peter Levin), managing director at Griffin Gaming Partners and head of gaming at Liontree.

Tuosto is a cofounder and managing director of Griffin Gaming Partners as well as a managing director and the head of gaming at LionTree. He has advised on over 27 gaming transactions since 2020, across sell-side, buy-side, and equity financing mandates for an aggregate value of over $22 billion, including advising Take-Two Interactive on its $12.7 billion acquisition of Zynga and AT&T on its $1.4 billion sale of Playdemic to Electronic Arts.

Prior to LionTree, Tuosto served as managing director and global co-head of internet & digital media investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 

See you at our event!

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