The next White Nights will be held in Cyprus as a summit for CEOs. Why the organizers chose the new format and how it will differ from the usual one — she told in an interview with Yulia Lebedeva, chief coordinator of the “White Nights”.

Alexander Semenov, Senior Editor : Yulia, White Nights used to be held three times a year. And now — the fourth event. Will it be the same well-known White Nights?

Yulia Lebedeva, Chief coordinator of White Nights: What we have planned to do in Cyprus will be completely different from our classic White Nights, although, of course, it was thanks to them that the idea and opportunity to hold the summit appeared.

We wanted to make a chamber event where we could exchange experiences in a comfortable atmosphere and communicate. No show-offs. No press. Without sales managers.

This is how the idea of the White Nights CEO Summit for top managers of the gaming industry appeared.

Yulia Lebedeva (Photo: Daria Orlyanskaya)

Do I understand correctly that the key difference is narrowing the audience to the top companies? Or will the structure of the event also be different?

There are many key differences: this is the audience (only tops), and the topics that we will discuss, and the number of participants. For example, GDC is the coolest conference, but if you need to meet someone, then be sure to schedule meetings in advance, it’s difficult to cross paths with a specific person there by chance. This is also not easy for us at White Nights: in St. Petersburg there will be about two thousand people – try to find people of the C-level level among them on the spot yourself. And at the CEO summit, everyone will be like that.

In addition, the format of the exhibition-conference at the classic White Nights involves an extensive exhibition area, a showcase with developers and lectures in several streams. Each participant has their own business objectives, the need to sell something or buy something, collect feedback, distribute business cards to the largest number of people.

There will be no development at the summit, and there will be only one lecture hall. At the same time, the main part of the program will be round tables, not presentations. I want to create a space for an open dialogue between the top companies from the gaming industry.

The trick is that these people think about what will happen next, how to develop what is available and create new ones, how to move the industry forward – they think in parallel with you. Of course, you are familiar with some of them, you even cross paths with someone a couple of times a year, but how often do you meet and discuss important things? And now imagine that they are gathered in one place – both they and many others whom you do not know yet. And they will discuss the issues that concern everyone out loud. They will raise topics that the bright minds of the industry are busy with, but which often simply have nowhere and no time to discuss. Inevitably, there will be synergy.

Let’s concretize for clarity: who are tops? Are game design directors or business development managers among them, for example?

Top managers are founders of companies, general and executive directors, in some cases business development directors, if they are related to the management of the company, presidents and vice presidents (this is more typical for Western companies). If we are talking about some large corporation, then the heads of departments will also be the right people there.

Business development managers, sales, game designers, programmers will not be able to buy a ticket and get to the CEO Summit.

How will you filter out? And what to do, for example, to the indicas, who have two or three people in the team, who are both tops, sales, and programmers at once? Plus, how much will they be interested in the summit, and will the summit be interested in such teams?

If we are talking about novice indexes, then this is not the CA of the summit. The filter for them will be, first of all, the ticket price — € 1000. However, if we are talking about teams that have already achieved success and have grown to a couple of dozen employees, but at the same time, out of habit, classifying themselves as indica, then the doors are open for them.

To become a participant, you need to send an application. Top managers of gaming companies have priority — they receive an apruv within one or two days along with a link to payment. For C-levels of service companies, we have allocated 15% of the total number of tickets.

The number of seats is limited — we collect only 300 people, half of the tickets have already been booked.

Are there any events in the gaming industry that are similar in format?

There are, but there are very few of them. As a rule, some kind of “own” party gathers there and only by invitation. For example, a small summit was recently held in Moscow, where tops from Nekki, Playrix, Cubic Games, Playkot, Vizor Games and several others gathered. Pavel Ryakkonen, co-founder and CEO of Nevosoft, was from us. According to him, it was very interesting precisely because of the opportunity to discuss topics that are not raised at large conferences. There were about 20 people there, but we are planning a similar atmosphere, but on a larger scale — we expect 300 people.

In the west, there are only a few events designed for C-levels of game developers, and, as a rule, companies from Russian-speaking countries are practically not represented at them. In addition to the Facebook CEO Summit, where the founders and CEOs of the most successful games on the platform gather. In Cyprus, about 60% of the participants will be from Russia and CIS countries, 40% — Europe, USA and Asia, while the official language of the event is English.

In recent years, the classic White Nights has become more and more ambitious

Let’s get back to the summit program. The problem of many conferences is the need to cover as many topics as possible with reports. Since the summit is designed strictly for the top, there should be no problems with this. Can you already tell us what issues will be discussed at the summit?

Yes, of course – we are currently working on the program. Usually, presentations at conferences are devoted to all aspects of game development — game design, programming, marketing, project management, promotion, markets, etc. At the CEO summit, the program will include round tables on other topics:

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

Why such topics? Business owners and those who manage companies face a huge number of questions. How to grow a successful company? What development strategy should I choose? Should I take investments or not? And if you take it, where and on what terms? How to build internal and external communications? How to retain employees? Where to get new ones? How to motivate them? Which jurisdiction should I choose? How to secure a company from a legal point of view?

And, most importantly, how to solve all these issues and not go crazy? How to find time for life outside of work?

For example, one of our speakers, Marek Rabas, CEO of Madfinger, worked so hard at one time that it came to panic attacks and the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. He will tell you what helped him return to normal life and how he now manages a company of 110 people.

At the moment, the following speakers have confirmed their participation:

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

The full list will be published in April. If anyone is interested, write to me in Telegram (@Julia_Lebedeva) – I can write in confidence who else is going.

Will the format of the reports or tables be different from the usual ones for White Nights? Should we expect that lectures, for example, will last not 20 minutes, but 60?

We plan to do round tables for an hour and a half instead of the traditional hour — I’m sure there will be a lot of questions, including from the audience, and 60 minutes simply won’t be enough. There will be only three presentations in two days and each lasting 45 minutes — these will be high-quality keynotes on inspiring topics. For example, the topic of one of these speeches will be the Future of Digital Entertainment.

The summit will be held at the Limassol Marina Cultural Center. This is one hall with a stage, from which there are also exits to the lounge areas. That is, you can listen to speeches and participate in discussions, or you can simultaneously communicate on the sidelines. We will not conduct video recordings and streams.

The summit promises to be chamber (Photo: Lera Polska)

What other activities will there be? How are you going to stimulate communication between the tops?

Of course, two networking parties are planned (April 25 and April 26). I think this is one of the most productive ways to communicate personally with different people. In addition, there are a couple of ideas on how to make communication more productive during the days, but I’ll tell you about it later — now all efforts are aimed at preparing a cool program.

I want to bring us back to the very beginning of the conversation with a final question. Julia, why Cyprus? Minsk, for example, would also be a great fit, especially since it would be cheaper in terms of organization.

A couple of years ago I went to Cyprus on vacation — at that time there was no one there except Wargaming. During this time, literally before our eyes, it has turned into a real hub for gaming companies, and those who are not there yet are actively interested in it. First of all, of course, the first persons of the companies are engaged in this, so it seemed logical to us to hold the event in Limassol.

In addition, at the end of April there is already a real summer, and immediately after the summit there are May holidays, so this can be a great reason to relax a little!

There will still be interesting announcements in connection with the White Nights CEO Summit, but I recommend applying for participation now – registration will be closed as soon as we recruit the announced number of people.