On July 28, Goodwin Procter teamed with the Israel Economic Mission to host the Israel Gaming Technology 2014 conference, an event which drew an audience of game developers, content publishers, ad agencies, and tech companies that create social, mobile, and casual gaming as well as “edutainment” (content intended to educate and entertain) and user acquisition programs. The event was held in Goodwin’s New York office and included one-on-one meetings between Israeli gaming companies and potential business partners, a panel discussion, and presentations from several gaming companies.
Nili Shalev, the Israeli Economic Minister to North America, gave welcoming remarks. Goodwin’s Stephen M. Davis, a partner in the Technology Companies group and Life Sciences, Capital Markets, and Clean Tech practices spoke about recent trends in private equity and venture capital in the U.S., Israel, and worldwide, highlighting the health of the industry as a whole and the recent surge in angel investing and crowd funding.
NYU Associate Professor of Digital Media Liel Leibovitz moderated a panel discussion, which featured Joost van Dreunen, CEO and founder of Superdata Research; Goldy Gold, the Studio Manager of Playful Shark, and a board member of GameIS, the Digital Games Industry Association in Israel; and Maxwell Foxman, a Columbia University Ph.D. candidate in communications. The panel addressed probing questions on the future of gaming as a whole, and digital gaming in particular; the oft-reviled term “gamification,” and the most promising ways to monetize games.
The audience also heard from four Israeli gaming companies: Captain Up, which offers game mechanics and social tools to maximize user engagements and retention, virality, and monetization for web-based and mobile applications; Upopa, a one-year-old game development company that has already released three high-ranking games; Playful Shark, a game developer that specializes in turn-key solutions for mobile and web platforms; and Kido’z, an application that creates a safe environment for kids to play games and learn on digital devices and allows parents to select age-appropriate content.
David J. Apfel, a partner in Goodwin’s Securities Litigation & White Collar Defense department and co-chair of the firm’s Gaming, Gambling, and Sweepstakes practice, gave closing remarks highlighting the highly lucrative missed opportunities for pay-to-play skill-based games with cash prizes in the U.S. Apfel noted that the legality of such games requires a game-specific, state-by-state analysis, but the games were likely legal in about 40 states.
Over 50 people attended the conference, including representatives of Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Invest in Israel, the New York Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, the Queens Borough President’s Economic Development office, and several venture capital firms. Goodwin Procter attorneys Robert M. Crawford, Jr., co-chair of the firm’s Gaming, Gambling, and Sweepstakes practice, Frederick H. Rein, E. Abim Thomas, Ce Li, and Michal Y. Herzfeld also attended.