Showing its strong commitment to esports in France, multiple branches of the French government presented a national esports strategy, with hopes to attract more major events and support players at both the professional and amateur level over the next three years.
At the Maison de l’Esport (a LAN gaming center in Paris), French Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, Minister Delegate of Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot, and Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak, announced their commitment to creating a national esports ecosystem and building out a major events associated with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With the input from stakeholders in attendance (unnamed professional players and teams, game makers, tournament organizers, media companies, members of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, and others) the three ministries have been working together to identify the key points of a national esports strategy and how to implement it. Those key discussions included structuring a national esports ecosystem, better support for an amateur scene and related associations, make it easier to practice and participate in events being held in France, and find a way to remove any government obstacles to hosting major international esports events in the country. One additional item of discussion was using whatever esports ecosystem that is created to host and support an “Olympic Esports Week” in France to coincide with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games sometime at the end of 2024.
From those weeks of consultation, stakeholders and government officials decided the following:
- To create a plan for a national esports structure that has legitimacy with both public and private stakeholders that will include provisions for oversight.
- Find ways for both public and private actors to fund economic development, and create structures for supporting teams and players both professional and amateur (due this summer for review).
- Begin mapping out territory structures that promote synergy between esports and sports clubs as well as associations with four pilot regions. This will be put together through a collaboration between France Esports, government ministries, and regional stakeholders and leaders. (France Esports is an association that includes tournament organizers, game publishers (including Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Ubisoft), and the trade group representing the video games industry in France—the Syndicat des Éditeurs de Logiciels de Loisirs, “SELL.”)
- Promotion of esports as a sports discipline that supports physical and mental benefits (creativity, physical benefits, accomplishment, team work) while avoiding activities that could lead to negatives (game addiction, physical inactivity, exposure to violence, or isolation).
- The publication of an inter-ministerial instruction that will allow the use of the “internally renowned” talent passport, usually reserved for high level sportspeople.
- The creation of a bid committee overseen by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee, the Interministerial Delegation for Major Sporting Events, and the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee that will be responsible for developing and presenting a proposal for an Esports Week in conjunction with Olympic Games in 2024. This is due in the spring, after which it will be further refined by a committee led by Matthieu Péché, an Olympic medalist and current CS:GO team manager for Team Vitality.
This new commitment follows comments from French President Emmanuel Marcom in September praising esports and announcing that the TrackMania Games would be hosted in France in 2024, and that BLAST Paris 2023 Major would be held in the Accor Arena. With the upcoming Olympic Games in 2024, and major esports events on the horizon, France is building on its commitment to legitimize esports that began when the government passed the French Digital Republic Act in 2016. That bill included provisions to recognize and regulate professional esports players and competitive video games—France was the first country in the European Union to pass esports-specific legislation in consultation with industry stakeholders.
One of the things that will be interesting to watch will be what games will be included during “esports week” in connection to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Will organizers play it safe with games such as Rocket League and FIFA (likely), or could games with “violent content” such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Valorant be included?