Inside Game Conferences With Antonio Pasalic From WN Events

Learn all about planning game conferences from Antonio Pasalic, Program Director at WN Events.

Whether you’re a regular at game industry conferences or a newcomer, it’s great to learn more about these events from the people who organize them. 

In this interview, we talked with Antonio Pasalic, Program Director at WN Media Group, a renowned B2B event organizer in the gaming industry. With over 12 years of experience, WN Media Group has successfully hosted events in Europe, MENA, Asia, CIS, and NORAM. 

We asked Antonio to share his insights and experience from previous conferences, as well as the plans for the upcoming ones. 

P.S. At the end of the interview, we have an exciting surprise for those who want to visit the next big WN event!

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Antonio Pasalic, Program Director at WN Media Group

Antonio, can you tell us about yourself and your role in WN events?

Certainly. I began my journey in the gaming industry about a decade ago, primarily focusing on video games. My career kicked off in China where I organized conferences catering to B2B interactions, hosting approximately 20,000 attendees along with satellite events in Southeast Asia. 

Later on, I stepped into the world of Esports, managing operations for ESL in Asia. This involved collaborations with major telecom companies and brands such as Mercedes. Additionally, I played a key role as a consultant for the inaugural Esports B2B conference in Japan. 

Joining WN was a natural progression for me – I was drawn to the dynamic team and the exciting opportunities it offered. Since then, we’ve been organizing events worldwide, significantly expanding our reach and hosting an impressive array of events each year.

Why does WN focus exclusively on organizing events for the gaming industry?

Compared to other cultural industries, the gaming industry is massive. With the huge interest and ongoing growth in gaming and the number of gamers, it just made sense to focus on organizing events for this industry. My goal was to create a space where gaming industry professionals could learn, grow, and most importantly – make connections and partnerships.

With a decade of experience in hosting industry events, how have you seen the landscape of gaming/industry conferences evolve over the years?

Over the years, we’ve witnessed significant changes in the field of gaming and industry conferences. While COVID-19 had a major impact, let’s set that aside since it’s been talked about extensively.

One notable evolution is the shift towards hybrid conferences, accommodating both in-person and online attendees. 

This is important because many business professionals can’t attend every event physically due to travel constraints or simply not having enough time. For this reason, we also record most of our lectures and make them accessible through our archive, ensuring those unable to attend can still benefit from the conference content. 

While the core formula of conferences hasn’t changed drastically, it has become critical to continuously strive to improve the attendee experience. This includes tailoring the speaker lineup and the content in line with the latest trends and insights in the fast-evolving gaming industry. 

With WN organizing events all over the world, do you see differences between the wishes of attendees and the way you need to organize these events?

wn genai for business
GenAI for Business conference in San Francisco

Absolutely, there are noticeable differences based on the location of our events, but also their type. For instance, in the United States, we’ve organized two “GenAI for business” events already, and they have a slightly different vibe than our standard events. These events are usually squeezed into a single day, often hosted in settings like art galleries, followed by a reception for socializing. 

Interestingly, compared to events held in Europe, we noticed that US attendees don’t tend to stay at networking parties for too long.

On the other hand, in Asia, each region has its customs and norms. A fun example of where you can clearly see the cultural differences between countries is by the number of questions people ask during Q&A sessions or after panel talks. 

All in all, adapting to cultural differences is a must. By doing thorough research and respecting local cultures, we are able to organize successful events in every location. 

What are the main benefits of joining industry events? 

Gaming industry events have a lot to offer. First of all, they expand your horizons by providing access to cutting-edge content, allowing you to stay updated on industry developments

You get to listen to the heartbeat of the industry, staying in tune with what’s happening. 

At WN, for example, we take great pride in positioning our events as matchmaking conferences. This helps you connect with potential partners and discuss new business growth opportunities. 

What are some criteria or factors that individuals or companies should consider when deciding which industry events to attend?

First and foremost, it’s important to think about your geographical focus. To do this, consider the location of your target market or audience and focus your efforts there. It’s not wise to spread yourself too thin by attending events all over the world. 

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WN Connect conference in Vietnam

Larger companies typically have a clear understanding of the regions they’re targeting and which events are relevant to their objectives.

Additionally, while it’s exciting to see new conferences emerge, there’s value in attending well-established conferences with a track record of quality. These events have built a reputation over time, signifying credibility and reliability. When deciding whether to attend a conference or not, I tend to assess factors like familiarity with the organizers, the success of their past events, and whether they lived up to their promises. 

Ultimately, attending a conference should guarantee a certain level of quality and relevance to your interests. Whether it’s in Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, or Hanoi, it’s important to know what to expect and have confidence in the event’s ability to deliver on its promises.

Networking plays a major role in industry events. What can conference organizers do to encourage networking opportunities during events? 

Networking plays a crucial role in industry events. What can conference organizers do to encourage networking opportunities during events? 

How can conferences contribute to these networking opportunities during the event?

At WN, we actively promote networking through various means. One significant development is the evolution of conferences into hybrid events, blending physical and online participation. 

To encourage networking, we’ve created a dedicated platform that allows attendees to schedule meetings with each other. This platform starts to operate two weeks before the main conference and continues for two weeks afterward, allowing participants ample time to connect with others they may have missed during the event. 

Our meeting system is an important tool for encouraging connections among attendees, ensuring that networking remains a central focus of the WN experience.

wn abu dhabi
WN Conference in Abu Dhabi

Finally, we also organize casual gatherings specifically designed for networking opportunities. This is an opportunity for people to interact and hang out in a more relaxed setting compared to the main event.

How does WN approach diversity and inclusion in its event programming to ensure representation from different backgrounds, industries, and perspectives?

Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of our event programming. We strive to be as inclusive and diverse as possible by bringing together individuals from various backgrounds and parts of the industry.

This includes both local and foreign attendees, as they offer unique perspectives on local and global issues. We achieve this by incorporating diverse voices onto panels, creating a rich exchange of ideas and opinions. While talks always have their place, we prioritize formats like Fireside Chats and panels because they encourage a more dynamic and free-flowing dialogue.

conference speaker abu dhabi
Speaker session at the WN Conference in Abu Dhabi

Finally, can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming events or initiatives that WN Media Group has in store for the gaming community?

We’re really excited about the WN Istanbul this June! On June 11-12, we will host the 3rd edition of the WN Conference in Istanbul. It’s a cornerstone event for us, bringing together the best of the local gaming scene with international perspectives. 

We’ll have fantastic speakers covering various aspects of the industry. We anticipate around 2,000 attendees, primarily on the B2B side. Our topics will span from investment and marketing to art and AI, with an emphasis on making our business talks more insightful and inclusive.

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WN Conference in Istanbul

While we’re still in the planning stages, we’ve already confirmed speakers like Rami Ismail, a legend in our industry. Additionally, we’re introducing workshops as part of our content, offering registration-only sessions for more in-depth learning experiences. 

All in all, it’s shaping up to be an event where attendees can expect to build valuable connections and gain valuable insights in a short amount of time.

Go, go! WN Istanbul Ticket Raffle 

If you’re interested in joining WN Istanbul this June, we’ve got a treat for you. 

We’re offering you a unique opportunity to win tickets for this thrilling event. Enter the ticket raffle by putting your name in the hat here. Good luck! 

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