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France Game Industry Sees Bright Future

| 18 May 2007 20:55

BusinessWeek discusses the future of France's lagging game industry and the potential for a countrywide comeback.

BusinessWeek has posted a piece explaining France's hibernating game industry and the potential growth the country has to look forward to. The country is currently faced with some sobering statistics; only 12 percent of the games available on European shelves are made in the continent. Among the country's problems listed within the article are the loss of half its workforce in five years and the closure of major development studios.

Sébastien Genvo, a former game designer, also noted that a small collection of large studios and an overabundance of independent companies have left the local workforce unbalanced. "With the advent of on-line gaming and with the gaming industry becoming more global in its approach, there was less room for local players. In France, you now find mostly smaller independent development studios and only seven of these have more than 35 people working for them. ... The three main studios, Infogrames, Ubisoft and VUG, seem to eclipse the rest. And few of the country's studios that are developing projects are doing so with the main Japanese or US players."

Guillaume de Fondaumière, president of trade organisation l'Association des Producteurs d'Oeuvres Multimédia (APOM) feels that the government can help revive business with subsidies. "If you look at the countries with thriving video games industries, you'll notice that they have governments subsidising those industries, one way or another. This is because their governments have realised that there is a lot at stake economically, technologically and culturally with this industry. ... On a more positive note, French developers are now more mature and more organised than they were five years ago. There's an increasing number of studios working together, creating projects together or sharing resources and technological developments."

Genvo believes that France has maintained its creativity and innovation throughout its financial slump. "In the future, we will have to be attentive to these modes of alternative creation we are starting to see. Recently, there have been several games that may at first glance seem banal, but whose creators are actually trying out new concepts, thus renewing with the kind of development you'd see in the eighties, when a handful of people would create a game with the intention of having it widely broadcast, but would create it with a minimum of editorial constraints. Or with constraints decided on by these self-same developers."

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