Web3 gaming is the latest evolutionary phase in the gaming world.
Until circa 2005, video games were predominantly played on individual consoles. But as broadband networks became more available and Web 2.0 emerged, there was a significant shift towards online gaming. The higher bandwidth allowed gamers around the world to compete against each other and to create virtual communities around their favorite games.
With Web3, emphasis has shifted to ownership of the content being created. Web3 games leverage blockchain technology to offer a more democratic and collaborative approach to gaming. Contrary to Web 2’s centralized model where pay-to-play games are published, monetized and controlled in their entirety by gaming publishers, Web3 players are given full ownership of the in-game assets (NFTs or cryptocurrencies) they acquire through purchases, victories or trades. Players can also actively participate in game development.
Although still fairly new (the first successful NFT/crypto play-to-earn game, CryptoKitties, launched just 6 years ago), the global blockchain gaming market is booming and is projected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2022 to $65.7 billion by the end of 2027.
In terms of markets, Asia – including Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – leads the pack as the top Web3 gaming markets. India and Brazil closely follow. On the production front, the US, Japan, and the UK are the leading creators of Web3 games.
France hasn’t cracked that top tier yet, but it does have serious potential thanks to some important historic assets. The country is home to major video game producers such as Ubisoft, Gameloft, DontNod Entertainment and Quantic Dream.
Here’s a breakdown of France’s web3 gaming economy:
Top 5 French web3 gaming companies to know:
- Sorare is a fantasy sports platform (football, basketball and baseball) powered by NFTs. Founded in 2018 by Nicolas Julia and Adrian Montfort, it has raised a record breaking €680M to date and captured major deals with the NBA, MLB, and the English Premier football league.
- The Sandbox metaverse is a virtual world where players can build, own and monetise gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain. Founded as a mobile game in 2012 by COO Sébastien Bourget and CEO Arthur Madrid, it was bought by Animoca Brands in 2018 and relaunched as a metaverse platform in 2021. It has secured $95 million in funding to date.
- Unagi is a Web3 gaming editor and producer of Ultimate Champions, a Web3 fantasy sports platform (football, basketball) launched in 2021 by CEOs Charlie Guillemot and Rémi Pellerin. Unagi has raised over $11 million to date and signed Ultimate Champions partnership deals with over 90 leading European football clubs and the European basketball association Euroleague.
- Dogami is the developer of a Web3 virtual reality game, a pet simulator with NFT tokens that allow players to adopt virtual canines. At the end of last year, its dog loving community counted over 200 000 canine collectors. The company completed a Seed round of €7 million in January 2022 with a further €7 million raised in an extended Seed round in December 2022. Investors included Bpifrance, XAnge, Amonica Brands’ the Sandbox, and Ubisoft.
- Cometh is a Web3 gaming studio that creates blockchain games running end-to-end on smart contracts that easily integrate with DeFi protocols. It is a strategy and exploration game where players can earn valuable tokens and craft items. Founded by Jerome de Tychey in 2020, the company has raised $10 m to date.
Despite a slowdown in blockchain investments this year, investors remain optimistic about the ever-evolving blockchain gaming industry. DappRadar’s Q2 2023 report which examines the levels of daily Unique Active Wallets (dUAWs) engaging with decentralised apps (Dapps) on chain, shows the gaming category continuing to lead as the most dominant sector commanding 37% of the market ahead of DeFi, NFTs and social.
The top 3 funds investing in European @Web3 games :
- Amonica Brands, one of Europe's most active Web3 investors, it focuses on sub sectors including blockchain gaming, DeFi, crypto wallets and the metaverse.
- Yolo Investments, a VC firm focused on Seed and Series A stage has a €150-200 million fund dedicated to gaming.
- Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based VC launched Cherry Crypto last year, a vehicle of $34 million to be invested specifically in Web3 companies.
- Fabric Ventures, a London based investor specialised in Web 3 investments, currently counts over 20 investments in Web3 games and games producers.
Other key French actors in the Web3 gaming space to know:
French Games publishers
- Voodoo, a leading global publisher and developer of mobile games and apps since 2013 with over 300 million monthly active users across over 200 games. In 2022, Voodoo invested $200 million in blockchain gaming studios to lead the transformation of the Web3 space.
- Homa Games, a gaming technology platform that publishes and creates mobile games for studios and developers. It develops games internally and in partnership with over 200 studios worldwide. The company has published more than 30 games with titles such as NERF Epic Pranks!, Sky Roller, and Idle World.
Accelerators and incubators
- Web3 accelerator PyratzLabs opened its 1000m2 offices in Levallois Perret in June last year. Dedicated to Web3 entrepreneurs, the accelerator and blockchain business school enables start-ups to meet and receive coaching and support from entrepreneurship and technology experts on their technical roadmaps and finding funding.
- NFT factory is an incubator and community educational centre created by 51 entrepreneurs, artists, corporates and investors. A unique space in Paris to discover NFTs, connect with the ecosystem, and build projects on the Web3.
Good to know:
The French government has proposed a wide-ranging bill to “secure and regulate digital spaces” which includes new regulations against online porn, internet scams, and disinformation.
However, some provisions target Web3 gaming's monetizable digital assets such as NFTs. Representatives of France’s Web3 gaming community – including Sorare, Homa, The Sandbox, Dogami and Unagi – published an open letter in Les Echos this summer calling on legislators to take a more moderate approach to regulating the sector. They warned the current proposals linked the industry too much with digital gambling and strict rules would quash the sector, allowing US and Asian players to dominate.
France is a leader in the western gaming world and one of the most popular European countries for gaming development studios. Back in the 1980s, France was a pioneer of video game development. The motorbike racing classic 500cc Grand Prix, created by Microïds in 1987, for example, was an early success. Design wise, France also has a rich history of cartoon and comic book production which has helped make it a center for graphic arts and design.