Why Video Games Are A Cure For Pervasive Conservatism

Julien Villedieu, general delegate of the Syndicat National du Jeu Vidéo, takes stock of the key lessons and major trends in the business sector, which can be found in the third annual video game barometer in France, produced in partnership with the Idate.

Grand raout at Amplitude Studios Thursday, November 24. The small Parisian video game studio (creator of Endless Space 2 in particular) which is going up, had put the small dishes in the big ones to receive the Secretary of State in charge of digital and innovation, Axelle Lemaire, for the presentation of the third Annual video game barometer in France, produced by the National Video Game Syndicate (SNJV) and Idate Digiworld. The opportunity to take the pulse of an industry undergoing a revolution with the dematerialization of its content, the rise of virtual reality, the expansion of the e-sport phenomenon and the evolution of uses via multi games -screens. Julien Villedieu, general delegate of SNJV, takes stock of key lessons and major trends in the business sector.

Is the French video game industry doing better in 2016?

We are seeing a very strong entrepreneurial vitality in video games, which has around 1,000 companies and two-thirds of which are less than five years old. If we compare with Quebec for example, there is not this vitality in Canada. We also estimate that in 2016 nearly 730 games were created in France, including 550 new intellectual properties. It’s better than in 2015 [respectivement 650 et 530, ndlr]. We are also witnessing the development of publishing activity, which has never been so important, especially given the saturation of the market on tablets and smartphones in particular.

And when it comes to jobs, what is the trend?

This is the other lesson to be learned. The video game sector is recruiting. It is expected to create more than 750 jobs this year, up 15% from the previous year. And the good news is, it’s structural growth, not cyclical growth. We need more skills, and production budgets are increasing. And this should not stop since the optimism of the sector is growing [80% des entreprises ont confiance dans l’avenir du secteur, contre 65% en 2015 et 45,5% en 2014, ndlr].

Suddenly, is France becoming attractive again?

Yes, thanks to the various reforms and measures put in place (Video game tax credit – CIJV, Participatory advance fund, etc.). These measures have made it possible to strengthen our competitiveness. France is in the top three behind Canada and the United States. More and more foreign companies are watching developments in the CIJV with interest. It is a very international sector [37,8% du chiffre d’affaires des studios étaient réalisés à l’international en 2015, ndlr]. But there is still a lot to be done politically and in terms of communication. We will have to initiate a real communication strategy in France, as the competitors are doing. There are interesting things to do in a context of Brexit which will slow down initiatives in the United Kingdom, or the election of Trump in the United States. France has a good card to play.

You have had a rather attentive ear within the government, with Fleur Pellerin and Axelle Lemaire in particular. Are you worried about a possible work-study program in 2017?

I will not say that there are concerns. We are more concerned with attempts at conservatism and withdrawal. France has every interest in betting on video games and innovation. It is the best remedy for the prevailing conservatism. It is an industry resolutely turned towards the future. But we are not fooled. We can clearly see the interest that a sector which interests young people can have for policies. Talking to young people is talking about the future. We will be vigilant in taking political positions to avoid any recovery.