My guest today is Mitch Lasky. Mitch is a partner at Benchmark and one of the leading figures in the video game industry. Over the last 30 years, he has built, led, and invested in a number of the best gaming companies in the world, including Activision, EA, Riot, Snapchat, and Discord. I couldn’t think of a better person to break down the anatomy of great gaming businesses and Mitch does not disappoint. His insights are remarkable. Please enjoy this excellent conversation with Mitch Lasky.
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[00:02:31] - [First question] - Why there aren’t more famous gaming investors
[00:05:08] - The most important features of the modern gaming business model
[00:07:11] - Developing his aesthetic taste and investing decision skill
[00:08:03] - What makes a game fun
[00:09:26] - How delivering a pleasurable active user experience differs from passive content and media
[00:11:09] - The developers of Doom being the first real modern video game company
[00:13:09] - Half-Life’s important role in the development of the gaming industry
[00:14:50] - The powerful notion of the platform-based publisher model
[00:17:54] - How some of the big game aggregators get started in the first place
[00:19:58] - What Riot can teach non-gaming businesses about business writ large
[00:21:10] - Ways that the change from physical games to downloads changed monetization
[00:25:19] - How to quantify an economic model in the new paradigm of superfan monetization
[00:28:27] - What the shift in gaming platforms has done to the business model
[00:31:47] - The impact of Apple’s privacy changes on gaming revenue
[00:34:11] - How the access to professional game engines and a lower friction environment will change the industry
[00:37:04] - Whether or not there is a step beyond mobile
[00:39:42] - Ways platforms like Twitch and Discord have influenced gaming
[00:42:26] - What he’s learned about games that allow them to seemingly exist forever
[00:45:17] - Signs of a healthy gaming community
[00:46:21] - The role of celebrities and influencers and generating retained audiences
[00:47:45] - Whether or not crypto will unlock new opportunities for in-game monetization
[00:52:50] - Key categories of motivators that could replace a ponzi-style in-game inflation
[00:54:36] - Contrasting League of Legends versus a Ready Player One style world
[00:58:22] - Emerging technologies and trends that may revolutionize the industry
[01:00:29] - A future with further consolidation on distribution and power