You might not think it, but France is one of the western world’s market leaders in the video gaming industry. It’s third only to Germany and the UK as the most popular European nation for gaming development studios. Its gaming expertise extends beyond console-based gaming, too. It’s now home to some of the most innovative iGaming studios and operators in mainland Europe. French culture has long since inspired the iGaming scene.
A quick glance at 888casino’s game library suggests a significant influence, with slots inspired by the French Revolution and historic table games initially enjoyed in the exclusive surroundings of Monte Carlo’s casinos. This operator is one of three highly recommended sites by oddschecker based on the strength of their promotions, so it’s a sound starting point for anyone wanting to uncover French heritage from behind the reels and card decks. Let’s find out more about the French gaming industry.
France’s gaming industry and Ubisoft
There has been an abundance of French flair permeating through some of the most successful gaming franchises of all time. One of the finest examples of a French gaming pioneer is Yves Guillemot. The 62-year-old founded the game development studio Ubisoft in 1986 with a clear vision to design and build video games with depth and immersive at their core.
Guillemot established Ubisoft with his four brothers, Michel, Gerard, Claude and Christian. 36 years later, it’s still headquartered in Saint-Mandé within the eastern suburbs of Paris. That’s despite its unprecedented success with a string of household names in gaming, including:
Assassin’s Creed is one of the most popular gaming franchises in the 21st century. Fusing elements of stealth, action-adventure and open-world gaming in one immersive bundle, Assassin’s Creed delves deep into ancient history and the battle between the Order of Assassins, who battle for free will and order. It continues to be one of Ubisoft’s most commercially successful releases. As of September 2022, the Assassin’s Creed series has sold more than 200 million units, comfortably positioning it as the studio’s best-selling franchise.
First-person shooter Far Cry launched for the first time in March 2004, making it the first of six instalments of this engaging franchise. The original wasn’t strictly developed by Ubisoft, although it acquired rights to the Far Cry franchise from Crytek shortly after the success of the original title. It was initially developed with PC gaming in mind, but it translated seamlessly over to game consoles. As of September 2019, the Far Cry series had shifted over 50 million units.
Ubisoft was permitted to use American author Tom Clancy’s branding to underpin its series of the tactical shooter and action-thriller video games. A string of Tom Clancy titles had been released on the PC under Clancy’s own development house, Red Storm Entertainment. This was before Ubisoft acquired rights to the franchise in 2008. Since then, Ubisoft has presided over successful war game-style releases. These include the EndWar series, the combat flight-inspired H.A.W.X. series and The Division, set within an unrecognisable, dystopian New York City. Ubisoft claimed The Division was its best-selling individual release of all time, with unit sales generating $330m during the first week alone.
French developers and the birth of turn-based MMOs
One of the niche subsectors of video gaming that French developers have heavily inspired is turn-based, tactical gaming. Developers Ankama Games, based in Roubaix, specialised in massively multiplayer online (MMO) games when online games at such a scale were somewhat unheard of.
Dofus was designed exclusively in Adobe Flash. Players were assigned their in-game avatar before entering a medieval fantasy known as ‘World of Twelve’. Players were tasked with completing quests and conquering monsters to build their in-game expertise. The game was one of the first to feature turn-based game mechanics. It was also one of the original pioneers of ‘freemium’ gaming. Dofus was a free-to-play title, but seasoned players had the option to pay an additional subscription to unlock further in-game features.
Two years after the release of the original Dofus game, Ankama Games also launched Dofus Arena. This ‘tournament’ version helped foster the sense of competitive gaming in turn-based titles from the outset. In total, Dofus has enjoyed an active player base of more than 40 million gamers and is still revered and enjoyed by many gamers in its homeland of France.
French-inspired video game environments
French culture has also had a major influence on the setting and environment of many successful video game titles through the years. In fact, some of the best video games have been set within the ‘City of Love’, Paris.
Velvet Assassin is a dark video game that sees you assume control of a secret agent with a one-way mission to assassinate a Nazi officer. The Parisian cityscape is heavily featured in this release, as is the Notre Dame-esque cathedral, which further adds drama and tension to this particular mission.
The Saboteur is another epic game set within the heart of Paris – Eiffel Tower included – that offers genuine freedom to explore the city on foot. You control the game’s protagonist, Sean Devlin, a racing car fanatic that becomes a resistance fighter against the Nazi occupation of the French capital. It’s on you (Devlin) to bring the colour and vibrancy back to the streets of Paris.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Rogue takes you back to the French Revolution in a time machine. You take control of assassin Shay Patrick Cormac, stalking the streets of late 18th-century Paris in search of peace and freedom. Rogue was the final iteration of the Assassin’s Creed series built for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Last but by no means least, Remember Me takes a forward-looking approach to Parisian life. This third-person title investigates what a ‘cyberpunk’-esque Paris would look like. You’re in control of protagonist Nillin through the streets of Neo-Paris, as she battles issues relating to identity and oppression.
In summary, the French gaming industry has left a lasting impression on the global gaming scene. Whether it’s the console, smartphone or casino-based titles, French gaming software has flair and depth that few other regions have successfully replicated through the years.