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Visionary Awards honor Microsoft’s Sarah Bond and Arkane’s Dinga Bakaba

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Visionary Awards honor Microsoft’s Sarah Bond and Arkane’s Dinga Bakaba

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Two leaders who are making a difference in outstanding gameplay, diversity, and gaming as a business are the winners of this year’s Visionary Award and our Up and Comer Award at the GamesBeat Summit 2022 event.

This year, our committee of 10 industry judges honored Sarah Bond, corporate vice president at Microsoft and Dinga Bakaba, studio head at Arkane Lyon, a division of Bethesda, for our Visionary Award and Up and Comer Award, respectively.

Tammy McDonald, CEO of Axis Game Factory and a venture partner for Griffin Gaming Partners, hosted the awards, which began in 2018 as a way to honor industry leaders who showed a real vision for the future.

Our past winners for the Visionary award include Rand Miller, cofounder of Cyan and co-creator of Myst; Ted Price, founder of Insomniac Games; John Smedley, studio head at Amazon Game Studios San Diego; and Laura Miele, the top gaming executive at Electronic Arts.

Our past winners for the Up and Comer award were Eve Crevoshay of Take This and Natasha “ZombaeKills” Zinda. This award honors someone who is an up-and-comer when it comes to achievements in the game industry. It isn’t based on age or experience in the game industry. Rather, it recognizes that the biggest potential of the honoree lies ahead of them.

This year’s panel of judges included past winners such as Eve Crevoshay, Ted Price, and Natasha Zinda. Other judges included Tammy McDonald, Dean Takahashi, Shelley Andagan, Don Daglow, Cathy Simpson, and Ivan Fernandes Lobo.

And this year we have a prize that will immortalize the winners in digital form. Christina Heller, CEO of Metastage, has offered to “Metastage” our winners. That means she’ll use her company’s volumetric capture stage in Los Angeles (or later Vancouver) to capture our winners in complete 3D animated imagery.

Sarah Bond

Sarah Bond is corporate vice president at Microsoft Xbox.
Sarah Bond is corporate vice president at Microsoft Xbox.

For our first winner, Sarah Bond, vice president for game creator experience and ecosystem at Microsoft, we have a quote from one of our judges, Natasha “ZombaeKills” Zinda, who said:

“Sarah Bond has continuously moved with purpose and vision through the games industry. She has cultivated a gaming experience that is as cutting edge as it is diverse. Through her contributions to Xbox, we are able to see the future of gaming reflected in mentorship and leadership. Recognizing Sarah for her hard work was an obvious choice when thinking of someone in the games space who has consistently made her visionary work a reality. Sarah has been paving the way for a culture in gaming that is rich in experience and has depth in its diverse partnerships.”

We also have a video presentation from John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity with some words about Sarah, as you can see in the video.

“Yes, her accomplishments prove she has the intellect, the brain, and the drive,” said Riccitiello. “I’m here to say she also has the heart. She’s the full package.”

In her acceptance speech, Bond said, “I am just incredibly humbled and proud to accept this award.”

She added, “In life, we all have the power to imagine and dream about a better world. And I find myself doing that a lot these days, especially all that we have been and continue to go through over these past two years. But what I want to talk about today is how I believe we can move from dreaming to actually building a better world,” she said. “And the pivotal role that games and in everyone who makes games plays in making that possible. I fundamentally believe that the foundation to a better world is empathy.”

She said that in the modern world, we can have global relationships. But it’s harder to bond with people like we once did on towns and villages. Games have a unique power to bring people through the entire journey of empathy, she said.

“I think about games like Tell Me Why which allow us to virtually walk in someone else’s shoes and experience emotional insights into their point of view their perspective, in the case of Tell Me Why the perspective of a trans man know that entertainment that we consume, it just has a very profound impact on what we think and feel,” Bond said. “And games can allow us to connect across those huge divides. When we think about it, you complete a quest, escape a dungeon, build a city, you can do that with someone you may have never met, they can live on the other side of the world. And it doesn’t really matter, their gender, their culture, their ability, their language, all of that doesn’t matter in a game. And more than anything, you can just have that shared sense of accomplishment with someone. And that is what is truly required to break down barriers and create real deep human connection.”

Play is an empathy multiplayer, she said.

“If we open the tent and include everyone, if we empower everyone who wants to to be a creator, if we play together and become empathetic to each other’s humanity, if we do this, we will build a better world,” Bond said. “And I believe it will be the better world we’ve all been dreaming of.”

Dinga Bakaba

Dinga Bakaba is studio director at Arkane Lyon and creative director on Deathloop.

Harvey Smith, head of Arkane Austin, talked about meeting Bakaba as a job candidate and his abilities as a game creator. Smith said he worked closely with Bakaba for eight years on titles such as Dishonored DLC, Dishonored 2, and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.

“No one works as hard as Dinga or as smart as Dinga. And just just knowing that he’s being acknowledged for that is in and of itself, a reward to those of us around him who treasure working with him,” Smith said. “After the success of Deathloop. I am just proud to see him leading the industry. And this acknowledgement is well deserved.”

He added, “What a tribulation to set out to reinvent the games that Arkane makes, and have the pandemic fall, and send us all home and really throw the world into a tailspin. And yet to produce, during that time, a game like Deathloop, which is … a masterpiece. And I consider Dinga’s work on Deathloop along with Sebastian Mitton and Dana Nightingale and everybody else who worked on on Death Loop — it’s just incredible. So I’m going to close just by saying what an absolute honor it is to acknowledge Dinga in this way. So much adversity he’s gone through to get to where he’s at. So diligently he has worked. And all through it all with style with humor with strength, with compassion for the people around him. He is really what the game industry needs more of.”

In her own tribute to Bakaba, Zinda said:

“Dinga Bakaba has made an impression in gaming and there is no denying that he will be in this space creating immersive games for a long time. Dinga is helping tell incredible stories and has now moved into leadership at Arkane Lyon as the studio/co-director. Dinga has the ability to see fresh new ways to tell stories and enrich the games space. And is on the cutting edge of game creation. Recognizing the work we have seen him doing and the work we know he will do was an easy choice. We cannot wait to see where his vision leads him.”

In an acceptance speech, Bakaba, head of the Arkane Lyon studio in France and creative director on Deathloop, thanked everyone who helped pave the way for him when there were so many obstacles.

‘I’m really honored and happy to receive this award. Not only because up and comer makes me sound young and sexy. But also because I love the idea that my best work with the team at Arkane is ahead,” Bakaba said. “My career is full of folks telling me that I was too ambitious, that someone like me would never get to participate in great things, that I should get back in line. And I know that too many game developers and students are hearing the same tune as we speak,” Bakaba said. “I was really lucky that some people did believe in me…. It is very important to have someone trusting you without being complacent, pushing you to do your best work by giving you tough challenges, but having your back when you have to take a hard decision. Also, I want to thank my successive teams, who helped me grow as a person, a game developer, and leader, because for introverts like me, I had to set up several soft skills that aren’t innate. And I’m really grateful that I had people to call me out when my character and my behavior wasn’t in sync.”

He also had a message for game developers.

“To all aspiring developers, and those who are making their way in this industry, please never underestimate the value of mentors, peers and reports. When they push you outside the comfort zone with respect and benevolence, they will keep you honest, as a person, and at the edge of your abilities as a developer,” he said.

And he thanked those who play his games.

“Thank you so much for reminding me every day why it’s worth it. Your smile is your memories, your thoughts, your ask your criticism, are the fuel of my passion, and quite honestly, my personal happiness,” Bakaba said. “So back to this wonderful award. All this is to say that if my best work is ahead of me, it’s thanks to the wonderful people I worked and wor with, and those for whom we build those amazing constructs that challenge the impossible and that we call video games. The players.”

Please join us in congratulating Bond and Bakaba on their well-deserved awards.

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.

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AMD CEO says 5-nm Zen 4 processors coming this fall

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Did you miss a session from GamesBeat Summit 2022? All sessions are available to stream now. Watch now.


Advanced Micro Devices revealed its 5-nanometer Zen 4 processor architecture today at the Computex 2022 event in Taiwan.

The new AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors with Zen 4 cores will be coming this fall, said Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, in a keynote speech.

Su said the new processors with Zen 4 architecture will deliver a significant increase in performance upon their launch in the fall of 2022. Additionally, Su highlighted the strong growth and momentum for AMD in the mobile market as 70 of the more than 200 expected ultrathin, gaming and commercial notebook designs powered by Ryzen 6000 Series processors have been launched or announced to-date.

In addition, other AMD executives announced the newest addition to the Ryzen Mobile lineup, “Mendocino;” the newest AMD smart technology, SmartAccess Storage; and more details of the new AM5 platform, including support from leading motherboard manufacturers.

“At Computex 2022 we highlighted growing adoption of AMD in ultrathin, gaming, and commercial notebooks from the leading PC providers based on the leadership performance and battery life of our Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors,” said Su. “With our upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors, we will bring even more leadership to the desktop market with our next-generation 5-nm Zen 4 architecture and provide an unparalleled, high-

performance computing experience for gamers and creators.”

AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors

The new Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors will double the amount of L2 cache per core, feature higher clock speeds, and are projected to provide greater than 15% uplift in single-thread performance versus the prior generation, for a better desktop PC experience.

During the keynote, a pre-production Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processor was demonstrated running at 5.5 GHz clock speed throughout AAA game play. The same processor was also demonstrated performing more than 30% faster than an Intel Core i9 12900K in a Blender multi-threaded rendering workload.

In addition to new “Zen 4” compute dies, the Ryzen 7000 series features an all-new 6nm I/O die. The new I/O die includes AMD RDNA 2-based graphics engine, a new low-power architecture adopted from AMD Ryzen mobile processors, support for the latest memory and connectivity technologies like DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0, and support for up to four displays.

AMD Socket AM5 Platform

The new AMD Socket AM5 platform provides advanced connectivity for our most demanding enthusiasts. This new socket features a 1718-pin LGA design with support for up to 170W TDP processors, dual-channel DDR5 memory, and new SVI3 power infrastructure for leading all-core performance with our Ryzen 7000 Series processors. AMD Socket AM5 features the most PCIe 5.0 lanes in the industry with up to 24 lanes, making it our fastest, largest, and most expansive desktop platform with support for the next-generation and beyond class of storage and graphics cards.

And AMD said the “Mendocino” processors will offer great everyday performance and are expected to be priced from $400 to $700.

Featuring “Zen 2” cores and RDNA 2 architecture-based graphics, the processors are designed to deliver the best battery life and performance in the price band so users can get the most out of their laptop at an attractive price.

The first systems featuring the new “Mendocino” processors will be available from computer partners in Q4 2022.

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Learn more about membership.

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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores

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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores

AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 chips will mark another major milestone for the company: they’ll be the first desktop processors running 5 nanometer cores. During her Computex keynote presentation today, AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that Ryzen 7000 chips will launch this fall. Under the hood, they’ll feature dual 5nm Zen 4 cores, as well as a redesigned 6nm I/O core (which includes RDNA2 graphics, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 controllers and a low-power architecture). Earlier this month, the company teased its plans for high-end “Dragon Range” Ryzen 7000 laptop chips, which are expected to launch in 2023.

Since this is just a Computex glimpse, AMD isn’t giving us many other details about the Ryzen 7000 yet. The company says it will offer a 15 percent performance jump in Cinebench’s single-threaded benchmark compared to the Ryzen 5950X. Still, it’d be more interesting to hear about multi-threaded performance, especially given the progress Intel has made with its 12th-gen CPUs. You can expect 1MB of L2 cache per core, as well as maximum boost speeds beyond 5GHz and better hardware acceleration for AI tasks.

AMD is also debuting Socket AM5 motherboards alongside its new flagship processor. The company is moving towards a 1718-pin LGA socket, but it will still support AM4 coolers. That’s a big deal if you’ve already invested a ton into your cooling setup. The new motherboards will offer up to 24 channels of PCIe 5.0 split across storage and graphics, up to 14 USB SuperSpeed ports running at 20 Gbps, and up to 4 HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2 ports. You’ll find them in three different flavors: B650 for mainstream systems, X650 for enthusiasts who want PCIe 5.0 for storage and graphics and X650 Extreme for the most demanding folks.

Given that Intel still won’t have a 7nm desktop chip until next year (barring any additional delays), AMD seems poised to once again take the performance lead for another generation. But given just how well Intel’s hybrid process for its 12th-gen chips has worked out, it’ll be interesting to see how it plans to respond. If anything, it sure is nice to see genuine competition in the CPU space again.

While Ryzen 7000 will be AMD’s main focus for the rest of the year, the company is also throwing a bone to mainstream laptops in the fourth quarter with its upcoming 6nm “Mendocino” CPUs. They’ll sport four 6nm Zen 2 cores, as well as RDNA 2 graphics, making them ideal for systems priced between $399 and $699. Sure, that’s not much to get excited about, but even basic machines like Lenovo’s Ideapad 1 deserve decent performance. And for many office drones, it could mean having work-issued machines that finally don’t stink.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront

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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront

With Disney+, Disney is looking to set a new high-water mark for ad prices among the major ad-supported streamers. The pricey pitch is representative of a broader rising tide in streaming ad pricing in this year’s TV advertising upfront market, as Disney-owned Hulu, Amazon and even Fox’s Tubi are looking to press upfront advertisers to pay up.

In its initial pitch to advertisers and their agencies, Disney is seeking CPMs for Disney+ around $50, according to agency executives. That price point applies to broad-based targeting dubbed “P2+,” which refers to an audience of any viewer who is two years old or older (though Disney has told agency executives that programming aimed at viewers seven years old and younger will be excluded from carrying ads). In other words, more narrowly targeted ads are expected to cost more based on the level of targeting. A Disney spokesperson declined to comment.

At a $50 CPM, Disney+ is surpassing the prices that NBCUniversal’s Peacock  and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max sought in last year’s upfront market and that gave ad buyers sticker shock. The former sought CPMs in the $30 to $40 range, while the latter sought $40+ CPMs. By comparison, other major ad-supported streamers like Hulu, Discovery+ and Paramount+ were charging low-to-mid $20 CPMs that major ad-supported streamers charge. As a result, Peacock’s and HBO Max’s asks ended up being price prohibitive, with some advertisers limiting the amount of money they spent with the streamers because of their higher rates.

Unsurprisingly, agency executives are balking at Disney+’s price point. “They’re citing pricing that no longer exists, meaning Peacock and HBO Max recognized they came out too high and they’re reducing it. Disney+ is using earmuffs to pretend that second part didn’t happen,” said one agency executive.

However, Disney+ isn’t the only streamer seeking to raise the rates that ad buyers are accustomed to paying. Hulu is also seeking to increase its prices in this year’s upfront, with P2+ pricing going from a $20-$25 CPM average to averaging in the $25-$30 CPM range, according to agency executives. And during a call with reporters on May 16, Fox advertising sales president Marianne Gambelli said that the company will seek higher prices for its free, ad-supported streaming TV service Tubi in this year’s upfront market. It’s unclear what Tubi’s current rates are, but FAST services’ CPMS are typically in the low to mid teens, said the agency executives.

“We have to get the value for Tubi. Tubi has grown to a point — it’s doubled, tripled in size over the past couple of years. So we are going to obviously make that a priority and look for not only more volume but price,” Gambelli said.

Meanwhile, in pitching its Thursday Night Football package that will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch, Amazon has been pressing for a premium on what Fox charged advertisers last year, according to agency executives. The e-commerce giant will be handling the games’ ad placements like traditional TV, meaning that it will run the same ad in each ad slot for every viewer as opposed to dynamically inserting targeted ads. “It’s streaming broadcast,” said a second agency executive.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on pricing but did provide a general statement. “Thursday Night Football on Prime Video and Twitch is a purely digital broadcast, and we’re excited to bring fans a new viewing experience. There are 80MM active Prime Video households in the U.S. and, in a survey of our 2021 TNF audience, 38% reported they don’t have a pay-TV service – meaning TNF on Prime Video and Twitch enables brands to connect with cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Brands can also reach these viewers beyond TNF. Our first-party insights enable them to reengage TNF audiences across Amazon, such as in Freevee content.”

One of the agency executives that Digiday spoke to said the latest ask is for a plus-10% increase on Fox’s rates, though what Fox’s rates were are unclear and other agency executives said the premium that Amazon is asking for varies. Ad Age reported in February that Amazon was seeking up to 20% higher prices than Fox’s rates. “I don’t know if it is consistently plus-10, but it is definitely more. Which is crazy because Fox couldn’t make money on it, which is why they gave it up for this fall,” said a second agency executive.

“Someone was eating way too many gummies before they put the pricing together,” said a second agency executive of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football pitch.

Ad-supported streaming service owners also see an opportunity to push for higher prices as advertisers to adopt more advanced targeting with their streaming campaigns, such as by using the media companies’ and/or advertisers’ first-party data to aim their ads on the streamers. 

Said one TV network executive, “You’ll see premiums, especially as it relates to advertisers that really want to hook into [their company’s streaming service] and buy those targeted audiences across the platform and either use [the TV network’s] first-party data or bring their own data to the table. That’s the biggest business we’re in, and that’s where we see great growth from a pricing standpoint.”

https://digiday.com/?p=448869

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