Games Industry Law Summit – 2022 wrapped, 2023 open for applications

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Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – 2022 wrapped, 2023 open for applications
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #95 • View online
Lovely people of the Summit, it’s been a while since we saw each other: the whole of twelve days! (or a bit less, if we count the impromptu party on Saturday morning).
Since then, we’ve dispatched brand reports, finalised the sponsorship decks for 2023, and opened the applications for both Games Industry Law Unpacked I in 🇵🇱 Warsaw and Games Industry Law Summit VIII in 🇱🇹 Vilnius.
Meanwhile, we also kept talking: among our own team, with our partners and suppliers – and with a number of attendees who kindly found the time to email/talk on the phone, to provide their feedback.
This issue of the newsletter consists of 3 parts:
(1) The summary of Summit 2022;
(2) The vision that we will pursue in 2023;
(3) A practical guide on registering for both 2023 events.
As to industry news and updates, we will return to them from the next week onwards (did you hear about the upcoming competitor to EGS and Steam, developed by VK? in the view of what we discussed at the Sanctions panel, I wonder what happens to the studios who sign up to be the “launch exclusives”).
Va bene, ci siamo:

1/3: SUMMIT 2022: HOW DID IT GO?
"Sorting badges in exchange for ice cream" is one of the best deals I've ever made
"Sorting badges in exchange for ice cream" is one of the best deals I've ever made
This year we ran the Summit for the 7th time in 8 years.
Ironically, it’s thanks to the pandemics that we discovered the outdoor format – which gives the attendees more control in how they want to participate.
Previously, you would have to exit the presentation hall to have a coffee or chat with someone, slamming the door in the process.
These days, you can seamlessly slide towards the tea bar, grab your sencha, and exchange a few words with a friend – all the while, listening to the presenter and watching the presentation slides.
Ist es Weihnachten, oder ist es der Summit?
Ist es Weihnachten, oder ist es der Summit?
For this reason, I do not think that we will ever go back to the indoors. The freedom to dip into the conversations and the presentations as you want, is priceless. I’ve been to many conferences where I saw a friend but had no opportunity to say Hi, or where I started chatting with one neighbour only to receive an angry stare from another.
With the outdoor venue, these limitations disappear. We’re not at a school where we must remain glued to the chair for 45 minutes before recess; we’re a bunch of active, curious adults who like to engage in social interactions while eating ice-cream and seeping both the new knowledge and the flat whites.
So long, and thanks for all the fish
빌뉴스에 오신 것을 환영합니다! 커뮤니티에 오신 것을 환영합니다!
빌뉴스에 오신 것을 환영합니다! 커뮤니티에 오신 것을 환영합니다!
What we (the ops team) liked about this year’s event:
🖐🏾 Seeing old friends
🤝 Making new friends
Running an event for 302 ppl w/o major* accidents
Thanks for coming, and for making it special!
* nobody fell off the stairs (2017)
* nobody got deported from the EU upon arrival (2018)
* nobody got held up at a police station overnight (2019)
* nobody misplaced their passport (2019)
* nobody got ambushed by a legal tech entrepreneur who gate-crashed the dinner to pitch his startup (2021)
However, we did have to call the police once, and we’ll amend the protocols accordingly.
Our largest Summit yet
This year, we had a record of 302 attendees at the Summit, coming from as many as 40 countries.
From the ops perspective, this was the true limit of our capacity to take care of the attendees: we hope that nobody felt abandoned much, and we yearn to give you more of our attention next year as we scale the Vilnius event to 250 people (while adding the Unpacked in the spring, which will serve 200 more attendees).
A ton of great studios
This year, we saw 147 attendees from 68 games companies at the event (represented by their in-house counsels and business people; disclaimer: in the visual above, Fondia is listed as a games company – but it’s a law firm (narrator: “pelikehittäjän sielulla!”); I also apologise for omitting Sneg and QLOC from there).
We very much love this, and we will work on expanding the list in 2023. There are lawyers at the larger companies that have been still on the fence about all the travel (if you know them, please nudge them?), and there are counsels at the smaller studios that discovered the Summit too late to plan their trips (we typically ask: “do you want to meet Epic and Valve before you have a real issue with one of their platforms?” :-D).
We hope to get 20 more studios to attend next year, thus further expanding everyone’s professional network. While the business teams, and the design teams, may compete with each other, the legal teams typically are very much open to collaboration and sharing best practices – which, actually, is why the Summit was born in the first place, and why it continues to remain relevant for the industry.
One thousand legal experts*
* well, almost a thousand – this year, we saw 147 law firm attendees coming from 67 law firms (listed above are 66, and Fondia is the 67th; narrator: “ne mainitaan kahdesti!”), which is also a record.
Whether you need an IP expert in Turkey (Burak), an open source expert in Germany (Carsten), or someone who can calm you down after you’ve cried your eyes out over a three-page draft of a slavery publishing agreement from a British publisher (Paul), we have all these wonderful people in one place, for a few days – and with the drinks served on the side.
According to the laws of social gravity, eventually all the good people get together, driven by the same values, so if you found someone that you like in the community… there’s a good chance that you can also trust their friends in the network – which is especially useful when looking for a referral in a country that you have no clue about.
I know that the general law firm sector is supposed to be very much a cut-throat business, but our little cottage industry has a different attitude: most people would go out of their way to recommend you the very best of their peers.
SARS2: still a risk
I stole this photo from this week's SCO meeting: outdoors, yet still in FFP2.
I stole this photo from this week's SCO meeting: outdoors, yet still in FFP2.
  • COVID is a virus that we still don’t fully understand; by the time that we will (for HIV it took ± 10 years), it may be too late for many to undo some of the damage they’ve taken;
  • A chronic illness (Long COVID) follows the acute period for up to 30% of those who got sick, symptoms or no symptoms; WHO recently gave a conservative estimate of 17M with Long COVID just in Europe, which is more than 6 times the whole population of Lithuania 🙀🇱🇹🇱🇹🇱🇹🇱🇹🇱🇹🇱🇹🙀;
  • We must focus on the prevention, utilising all the layers we can use: vaccination, testing, masks, and ventilation (where being outdoors works the best); without turning into weirdos, we already adopted seatbelts and stopped smoking in both the restaurants and the offices; we certainly can improve our behaviour further to prevent RSV, SARS2, rhino/entero and other nasty airborne diseases from spreading in our communities and at our conferences (while our productivity goes up, since we stay healthier).
Masking starts early in our family; only Daisy gets a pass...
Masking starts early in our family; only Daisy gets a pass...
Regardless of the public messaging saying that we’re past the pandemics (“you do you” by the MTA wins the content for the most confusing public health announcement), the facts speak otherwise (USA reported 381.821 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 12 months).
The best indication is “what people in power do” rather than “what people in power tell others to do”. And here, we see the major Hollywood productions still requiring 3 PCR tests/week for all the staff on the set, while to meet Joe “the pandemic is over” Biden, the journalists must still present a negative PCR first.
¡Bebamos a tu salud!
Before we talk about 2023, let’s talk about the drink sats for this year. First of all, the three bars (coffee, tea and ice-cream) performed as intended: over the two days of the Summit, we consumed 900 ice-creams (top flavour: pistachio), 900 coffees (top drink: cappuccino) and 600 cups of teas (top choice: not black, not green, but fresh white… unexpectedly!).
Healthy options
Le kombucha est aussi excellent avec de la vodka (mais psst... c'est un secret !)
Le kombucha est aussi excellent avec de la vodka (mais psst... c'est un secret !)
Other non-alcoholic drink were also in demand: both the kombucha (brewed by Ernestas, shown above) and the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea outperformed, with 120 bottles of the first and 54 bottles of the second (our initial expectation was: 7 bottles of the sparkling tea…).
After discussion with our partners at PACAI, and a number of the attendees, we promise that at the Summit in 2023 we will make a major push to make the non-alcoholic drinks selection as appealing – or more – as the wine & spirits list.
Whether it’s the non-pasteurised apple and pear juice from Normandy or the sparkling grape juice from the vineyards of Alba – we plan to find and deliver something special, that you would love to discover. The reason being that quite a few of us try to drink less alcohol when in social settings, with various success rates (personally, I mostly fail at this). And the less choice there is from the non-alco offering, the harder the going. In 2023, we will make it easier.
On the other extreme...
On the other extreme, we consumed 1.200 bottles of beer, and went through 80 magnums of Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Collio, 60 magnums of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve and 50 magnums of Viña Real Gran Reserva.
That’s 2 glasses of champagne per attendee, and nearly three of the white wine. Plus 4 bottles of beer per person. The thing is, with only 19 German attendees this year… you have to wonder, which other nations also chipped in?
We may have stumbled on a clue here.
We may have stumbled on a clue here.
And now, brace yourself for something else: we also extinguished… 2 buckets of vodka (that’s 46 bottles! who? how?). As well as all of the nigori sake from Wakaze, all of the zivania from Tsiakkas, and most of fino tradicion from Cadiz.
One good thing to come out of this, besides the fleeting sense of happy times:
The beer brewery said that they will make private labels for us in 2023, since we are now a big enough customer. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard on making the numbers impressive!
Αλέξανδρε δεν έχω πιει βότκα ακόμα, αλλά όντως φοράς 2 ζευγάρια γυαλιά?
Αλέξανδρε δεν έχω πιει βότκα ακόμα, αλλά όντως φοράς 2 ζευγάρια γυαλιά?
2/3: OUR PLANS FOR 2023
In 2023, we’re finally going to do what we wanted since 2019: run two events in one year.
Back in 2019, we entertained an idea of Games Industry Law Summit Asia in 🇸🇬 Singapore. We even found the hotel with impressive catering and a proper ballroom – but then, the pandemic happened (I still hope that one day, we will run an Asia-focused event… perhaps in Busan?).
Come 2021, we came up with another concept: a broader, more inclusive event that focuses on the fundamentals of games industry’s legal field – Games Industry Law Unpacked – which we wanted to run in 🇵🇱 Warsaw that year.
The venue of the Unpacked is the illustration of Warsaw's amazing transformation
The venue of the Unpacked is the illustration of Warsaw's amazing transformation
Thanks to Karol Laskowski and his colleagues at Dentons in Warsaw, we found an excellent venue, met with the caterers, secured sound and light and obtained the proper Polish VAT registration – but then, the war happened, and we felt it would be wrong to drink beers while Oleksiy and other Ukrainian friends must shelter from the Russian missiles (on top of this, our Polish bank declined our application, since the UBO (me) has a Russian passport… hello, my friends at the Sanctions panel!).
But we, the kids of the Cold War era, do not give up that easily. We were born into the life of struggle (from queuing to get a book about Tomek Wilmowski at the library to queuing at 5AM to get a visa for Spielwarenmesse), and I believe that we can overcome any difficulty, if we go through enough queuing.
Thus, lovely people of the Summit, I’m happy to share that our plans for the coming year are as follows:
🇵🇱 Warsaw, May 9-11, 2023:
🇱🇹 Vilnius, Sep 6-8, 2023:
The best conference room is a tent, if you aks me (just bring a jacket)
The best conference room is a tent, if you aks me (just bring a jacket)
The mermaid, the wolf – or both?
In a nutshell, this is how we think about the two events of the coming year:
The Unpacked
Expand your industry knowledge + meet new people.
This is the conference that fits someone like me perfectly, as I get an overview of all the important things (and it’s been a while since we sued anybody for real).
The Summit
Deep dives & debates + engagement with the industry peers.
This is the conference for interaction. Ask questions, discuss, exchange opinions. Participate in workshops and share experience with you peers.
Summit VIII: when less is more
In 2023, we plan to host 250 attendees in Vilnius at the Summit, and another 200 attendees in Warsaw, at the premiere edition of Unpacked. In other words, the community will grow to 450 – while the Summit will scale down a little.
From the very first event, we built the Summit as the collaborative environment for our professional community – and as with all the communities, there is a pretty hard limit on how many members you can meaningfully interact with, within a given timeframe.
The dates of the Summit
A few people asked us to consider either moving the Summit back to May (2015-2019), or moving it closer to Gamescom (August 23-27 in 2023), so that the non-EU visitors can transition from one event to another without having to fly back home in-between.
Here’s our considerations:
Vilnius in spring: clean, beautiful – but oftentimes, very very cold
Vilnius in spring: clean, beautiful – but oftentimes, very very cold
We cannot run an outdoors event in Vilnius in May, because it is still too cold to be outside. Some years the trees are already green, and some years it feels like late winter. It may not seem intuitively true, but there is a huge difference between Hamburg or Warsaw and Vilnius in this season (possibly, because we are closer to the Mordor).
Additionally, in May all the vegetables and fruits that PACAI’s team uses to cook for you, will come by air from Spain. While in September, we’re at the peak of the local produce – which this year, we made the full use of.
While we could, in theory, shift the event a week earlier to August 30 - September 1, this makes it more risky for SARS2 (which will still be around next year, barring a miracle) since we’ll be at exactly the time when the Gamescom visitors who got infected, become infectious themselves (here’s hoping that in 2023, Gamescom follows Tokyo Game Show and PAX West in requiring masks indoors).
Plus, it’s a mad week here in Vilnius, with the kids going back to school and the city getting overrun by the extended families. On top of this, if you do in fact visit Gamescom, you won’t be able to follow up on your emails, moving from one event to another while your reminders accumulate. Boom!
For better or for worse, we plan to run the Summit on Sep 6-8, 2023, when it’s still warm enough – but already quiet enough – and with enough days between Gamescom and the Summit, to allow you to clean your inboxes and call schedules. Please don’t hate us if this turns out to be suboptimal for you personally!
The Summit's balancing act
The Summit is all about meeting friends: both old and new.
The Summit is all about meeting friends: both old and new.
Simple math tells us that we must introduce limits if we are to succeed with making the Summit more representative, while keeping it smaller: in 2022, we had 135 firms & studios – and if we aim for 150 in 2023, we cannot have one firm, or one studio, come with 8 people on its own.
Thus, from 2023 we transition to a more formal process where the applications (here) are reviewed by the community board (made mostly of GCs). With this, we hedge the personal bias that any single person may have, and draw on the group knowledge to guide us in assembling the best party ever this professional community.
Here’s 4 categories of attendees whom we prioritise for Vilnius:
– Here's to Grzegorz, and his Citroën Berlingo!
– Here's to Grzegorz, and his Citroën Berlingo!
1. SPEAKERS
These are the people who come to share their knowledge; who invest their time in the preparation, and the rehearsals; the people whose hard work results in the top-quality content at the event… they are our stars! We had 70 speakers in 2022, and we expect 60 speakers in 2023.
– Was geht hier, Detective?
– Was geht hier, Detective?
2. EXPERTS
Generally, these are the same people who were speakers previously, or who will be speakers in the future – because of their unique expertise. Do you want an easy test? Everyone loves to be next to an expert during the formal dinner. When the sharing of the knowledge goes both ways, time flies.
We split the expert group into two segments:
(a) regional experts – we want to have at least one representative from each market; but not too many! there’s great value in having a friend in a particular country, or two, or three; yet if we have 5 people with an almost identical focus, nobody will be better off much – while we’ll lose the chance to have someone else add to the diversity;
(b) special knowledge – we want to have as broad experience as possible; someone is a pro at auditing games companies, or at litigation in the US, or at global M&A, or at dealing with antitrust, or at privacy, etc. – we want all these people.
3. IN-HOUSE COUNSELS
These are the people who are embedded with the dev/pub teams, and are on the frontlines of our industry. They are fully invested in seeing the practical side of the event pay off, and won’t tolerate a panel that’s simply chasing clouds.
But even here, we must have a limit, based on –
(a) representation – proportionally to the size of the team; when you’re the only lawyer from the studio, we’re happy to see you – always so! but when you’re one of the twelve, or twenty… we will ask your GC to choose the 2-3 that will come to Vilnius, and the 4-5 that will come to Warsaw, at any given year;
(b) focusing mostly on “industry-facing” counsels – we want to see the folks who are in the position to collaborate with others (while those who work mostly with an internal focus, and aren’t ready to share expertise yet, are very much welcome in Warsaw).
4. NEW FACES
As Mr. Oosterbaan rightfully noted, we must be mindful of the risk of becoming another elitist club. You only need to look at one of the regional business conferences to see an example of what we need to avoid (the smaller the country, the bigger the egos, as a rule).
Our commitment: each year, we reserve at least 15% of the seats for new partners, associates, and in-house counsels, who haven’t attended before.
The Unpacked's welcoming embrace
"Unpack yourself at the Unpacked..."
"Unpack yourself at the Unpacked..."
For the Unpacked, we currently have no limitations except that you need to have
  • legal background; or
  • business background; or
  • finance background
We will keep accepting the applications until we run out of seats.
The Unpacked is a place for meeting new people, and a place for learning: we plan on having a stellar set of speakers and presenters that will make your trip worthwhile.
2023's registration fees
In terms of the budget, we’re face 2 challenges:
Inflation
Nearly everything has already gone up in price already. We’re hedging by early commitment where we can (we just ordered the champagne for 2023, avoiding a 15% hike from Billecart-Salmon that’s due from October 1st), but such opportunities are limited & we are also hobbled by how much we can actually pay right now, and not six months later.
Improvements
Each year, we commit to making the event better, and we deliver. For 2023, we plan an additional bar (currently dubbed “the Health Bar” – think of what you normally see in Sydney, or Stockholm, with shots of wheatgrass and ginger, as well as carrots and cream, etc.) as well as a dedicated video operator (for some nice memories), plus what we dub as “better everything”.
Based on this, we increased the registration fee for the Summit. As to the fee for a more modest Unpacked, it’s exactly a half of the Summit’s.
Upping the champagne game at the Summit
This is the champagne that we served in 2021, and 2022. Top 2% in the world, and a great drink at that. Many of you have commented positively on the selection, and we already ordered it for 2023.
And yet…
…and yet, our supplier kept nudging us to try something else: Brut Rosé, which is what Billecart-Salmon is apparently most famous for.
For sure, it has higher ratings, and is listed among the top 1% in the world. At the same time, it’s 60% more expensive, so we wondered about the rationale. After all, we’re not a fashion show where people want to be seen drinking the famous stuff, we’re a legal event where people will drink anything that burns even a just a “nice” champagne, if served appropriately cold.
So today, we ran a blind test, and I as much as I hate it, I must admit that the more expensive stuff actually tastes better. So for 2023, while serving you Brut Reserve at the Reception Dinner, we will pour Brut Rosé as the aperitif of the Formal Dinner – we just ordered 21 magnums of the stuff.
Summit's closing time: changes incoming
This year, as in 2022, we stopped serving the drinks at 21:30, and ask the staff to dismantle the tables. In 2019 and earlier, we haven’t been doing this – which often resulted in seeing a few more empty seats in the morning.
According to the feedback, quite a few people would have preferred to continue their conversations beyond 21:30, whether the drinks are free or paid. So in 2023, we’re making a change:
* the venue will remain available until midnight
* we will still stop serving the free drinks at 21:30
This should ensure that the conversations can continue beyond the closing time, while the effort of getting another round of beers (from the bar at PACAI) becomes a bit more difficult – so there’s more talk, and less drink, as we drift into the night.
The Summit's WiFi Issue
Full disclosure: I became such a hermit, that I forgot about the non-EU travel, and about the fact that not everyone has an unlimited data plan on their mobile phones while visiting Europe. Which is why we skipped renting any WiFi routers for the event in 2022.
At first, I felt bad: people from Chile, USA and Japan couldn’t really connect with their offices in a proper fashion without paying a fortune. But then a few attendees told me how great it felt, when – unlike at a typical legal conference – most attendees actually listened, and took notes, instead of diving into their notebooks to work on more emails.
So that’s an issue that is now open to debate: do we want the free WiFi next year at the Summit (and the Unpacked), or do we want to be more of an “offsite”, where people are discouraged from trying to multitask? Obviously, I’m the wrong person to ask, I’m just going to listen to the distributed cognition here.
Summit's loot box next year
This year’s box was the biggest that we ever produced, with a total value of nearly €180. At the same time, quite a few people felt sorry that they couldn’t take the whole thing back – given the constraints of their hand luggage.
For 2023, we’re exploring a completely different approach that would decrease the size – while simultaneously increasing the impact. Whether this happens, depends entirely on our luck in finding a fitting manufacturer in Belgium or in France. For the moment, we have a vision… but not the actionable plan (yet). Fingers crossed, we succeed in surprising you one more time!
3/3: REGISTERING FOR 2023 EVENTS
The applications for the Summit and the Unpacked events are open: here. The Summit makes sense if you’re a speaker, an expert, an in-house counsel who works with law firms and other studios, or someone who’s actively engaged with the industry – but hasn’t attended before. Otherwise, we’d like to invite you to the Unpacked, so that we can balance both events, and expand the community while keeping it manageable.
Once you submit the application form, you will hear from us within a week with one of the three possible answers:
* if the board approves the application, Alma will send you the link to the billing form.
* if the board approves in general, but we are already in a tight spot for your region / your company / overall number of seats, we will suggest to place you on the waitlist.
* if the board thinks you’re a better fit for the other event, we will suggest that you register there.
Our aim is to increase the representation (i.e. more studios and firms next year), which means that we will be very cautious about accepting more than one person from the same company. If you’re in-house, we’re open to seeing 2-4 people who engage with the industry. If you’re at a law firm, the number is proportionate to your engagement with the industry matters. And as always, the experts and the speakers are outside of any limits.
–––
Phew… That was one long issue, huh?
Next on: the full gallery from the Summit (almost ready!), and then, finally, the industry news.
Have a great week, everyone!
PS
Sorry for being late with the emails; we’ll respond as soon as we can.
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Sergei Klimov

A newsletter about games industry's legal side, written for the benefit and entertainment of the folks attending (or considering to attend) the annual Games Industry Law Summit in Vilnius.

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