France comes second only to the United States in the video games industry. The advent of connected objects, virtual reality and cloud gaming are all helping to drive the surge in the sector.
France is a real hotspot for creativity and innovation in the field of video games and is home to some 300 companies specialising in this field. The video games production sector is the top segment of the entertainment industry worldwide, with a total turnover of €60 billion in 2012. The Syndicat National du Jeu Vidéo – the body representing video games industry providers in France – forecasts that next year this figure should reach €75 billion. In France, the association of recreational software publishers (SELL) lists 31 million regular video games players in France, with close to eight out of ten French people having played a video game at least once in the last twelve months, placing the country top of the list in Europe. The French video games industry also has great international reach, 80% of its output being for export. Firms the size of Ubisoft, publisher of the famous Assassin’s Creed game, are a good example of French potential and international reach. Of its €1.25 billion turnover, 40% comes from Europe but over half from North America. In one of its overseas studios, in Quebec, the company has 3,500 employees.
A robust, vibrant sector
The sector has received a fresh boost with the recent arrival of a new generation of games consoles and high expectations of new platforms such as mobile with ‘casual gaming’. As evidence of the vibrancy of this sector, new players are constantly coming into the market and a third of all video games companies are less than two years old. These newcomers are able to draw on the experience of the existing creative studios, 27% of which were set up over ten years ago and still continue to prove their credentials. Much of the new dynamism in this industry is coming from investment being made in new areas such as connected objects, virtual reality and ‘cloud gaming’ – aka ‘gaming on demand’ – where you can play a game which is streamed from a remote server across a range of devices. However, France still has some way to go before it reaches the output of the video games industry in the United States. The US is far and away the world leader, with turnover seven times greater than that of France.
To help the French video games industry meet the challenge of foreign competitors who – notably in Canada, the UK and Australia – enjoy sizeable tax advantages, France’s fiscal system provides tax credits for businesses in this sector. Late last year the French Parliament voted an update to the legal provisions passed in 2008, still however retaining the tax credits available to video games production companies. By helping to improve the competitiveness of French companies these tax breaks will also serve to support job creation and employee retention in the sector. Although the video games industry provides 28 different types of job and there are 150 new job vacancies in the sector every month, attracting and retaining talent remains a major issue for this sector. It goes without saying however that companies must listen to their player-customers. Mélanie Christin, CEO of video games production company Atelier 801, believes that developers ought to be focusing on multi-player real-time games, which “have great appeal to gamers, who tend always to be looking for social interaction,” she underlines. Meanwhile Cédric Lagarrigue, Managing Partner at video games publisher Focus Home Interactive, is quoted on the French Video Games Agency (AFJV) website as saying that tomorrow’s big opportunity will be cloud gaming.