More than 200,000 revellers this week attended the Parisian expo centre to try out the latest titles across the video game industry, a business that's worth more in France than both the music and film industries combined.
The second largest games expo in Europe ended on Sunday in the French capital with the Paris Games Week opening its doors to what's thought to be a record number of visitors.
Over its five days run, an estimated 200,000 visitors walked through the doors of the exhibition to see the latest releases and technology in the games industry.
In the massive expo hall, PGW played host to all the major stakeholders in the sector. The three console manufacturers (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) took part, as well as many of the most significant game development companies. Front and centre was domestic company Ubisoft, which had stalls demonstrating its latest products alongside competitors Bandai Namco, Capcom and Square Enix.
Of the many interactive stands littering PGW, gamers could test exciting new titles like ‘Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’, set for a February 2024 release. Other tantalising 2024 releases on show include fighting game ‘Tekken 8’ and ‘Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown’.
While not all the titles on show are still in development, there’s been a glut of blockbuster releases in the video games world this autumn which visitors can have a go at. From the latest chapter in popular series such as Ubisoft’s ‘Assassin’s Creed Mirage’; Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Wonder’; Activision’s ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ to the highly anticipated ‘Spider-Man 2’ from Sony.
‘Spider-Man 2’ gives players another chance to embody the popular web slinger as he navigates around the dynamic and interactive New York City. It has already sold more than 2.5 million copies, becoming the fastest-selling video game in the history of the PlayStation 5 console over the first 24 hours after its release at the end of October.
“I love the game to death!”, Dan Mazarin, 13, tells AFP, who came to take a photo wearing the Spider-Man t-shirt in the company of statues bearing the effigy of the two costumed heroes from the Marvel series, Peter Parker and Miles Morales.
State of play
This is the first proper year back post-pandemic after a smaller event in 2022 for PGW. Since the pandemic, the industry has somewhat shifted away from these big trade events.
Many publishers have gotten into the habit of increasingly revealing their next games during their own online events. Partly as a result, the biggest annual video game event, E3 in Los Angeles, bowed out this year after failing to recover from Covid-linked problems.
While E3 has fallen by the wayside, there are still popular games expos around the world including the Tokyo Game Show and Germany’s Gamescom, now boasting the title of Europe's, if not the world's, biggest expo with some 300,000 people at its last event in Cologne.
The result of the pandemic has been a slight shift in focus for these expos though. Instead of being the exclusive places for new title announcements, the priority has turned instead to presenting gamers with examples of new titles and technology in person.
“Our ambition is not necessarily all-out gigantism. Video game publishers and manufacturers no longer set quantitative objectives for events but rather a successful experience,” insists Nicolas Vignolles, general delegate of the expo’s organisers.
The popularity of the expo with the public is clear from the jubilant faces of gamers arriving in their droves at the Porte de Versailles. But it’s not just the public that is behind the event. The French government has also been at pains to stress its support.
The government said it was “in favour” on Wednesday of the “examination of the effectiveness” of the video game tax credit, the main public financing tool for this industry in France, being extended until 2026.
French parliamentarians decided to carry out an “examination of the effectiveness” of the tax credit in 2025 “so that we see if it works well and if it gives the expected results”, recalled the French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, at the opening of PGW.
“If some propose 2026, I am in favour of giving more time and more visibility” to all video game players in France, he added.
Since its implementation in 2008, companies in the sector have benefited from a tax credit, subject to conditions, the rate of which amounts to 30% of eligible expenses for the production of a new game.
The main video game unions regularly plead for France, third in Europe in terms of turnover, to become European "leader" in the sector within five years, asking public authorities to make it an “industrial priority”.
To “support” the economic development of esports, Mr. Le Maire also announced last Thursday that VAT on tickets for video game competitions would be “aligned with that of concerts and sporting events” from January 1, 2024 .