The video game industry is contemplating its future and striving for sobriety

Weird place for such a meeting? Not necessarily. While opera was at the top of the cultural scene when the building was erected, video games are at the top today: a world market of 200 billion dollars in 2022. Far ahead of cinema (120 billion) or music (60 billion). He therefore deserves that the organizers of the event…

Weird place for such a meeting? Not necessarily. While opera was at the top of the cultural scene when the building was erected, video games are at the top today: a world market of 200 billion dollars in 2022. Far ahead of cinema (120 billion) or music (60 billion). So he deserved that the organizers of the event (the region, the metropolis, the SO Games association and the Sud Ouest group) rolled out the red carpet for him.

Place de la Comédie, no spectators. The forum is reserved for industry players. It’s “a sort of Davos of video games,” according to Stéphane Bonazza, President of SO Games and Vice President of Bordeaux-based independent studio Shiro. No game demos. For the 200 participants, the program is more about recruiting or observing the markets.

Example of the issues addressed here: digital sobriety. Video games are an industry in constant revolution. And like all industries, it has an impact on the environment. The Bordelais Pierre Forest took the stage to sweep away the sometimes unexpected forms these outward appearances take.

Not so elusive

The man is wearing two hats. President and co-founder of Gamesplanet.com (Metaboli), he is also a board member of SO Games. On both counts, he questioned the footprint of his operations and the actions that should be taken to reduce it. “According to the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Ademe), digital technology emits 4% of greenhouse gases (GHG). We could say “it is little”. Only this stock is trending strongly up. It will double by 2030. »

Controller in hand, we don’t necessarily see that we’re warming the planet or depleting its resources. Especially since games are no longer sold as DVDs wrapped in plastic by truck. “One would think that digitization has minimized the impact on the industry. In fact, things even out. »

“85% of emissions are associated with simply downloading games – gigabytes of data convert to grams of CO2”

“At Metaboli,” continues the Managing Director, “we have looked at where these GHG emissions come from: within our own operations, but also upstream and downstream. And we found that even when we tried to reduce our travel – all of our staff have been working from home since 2014, well before Covid – it was like ‘wet in the shower’. A small gesture with no global reach. Because everything is played downstream: 85% of emissions are associated with simply downloading games. » The gigabytes of transmitted and stored data operate infrastructures and are therefore convertible to grams of CO2.

Video games have another effect on the planet: “It affects the manufacture of hardware (PCs, consoles, smartphones), which accounts for 80% of CO2 emissions and also presents a resource challenge. A very simple example: water. “Phenomenal quantities are required to manufacture microprocessors. In 2021, the drought in Taiwan exacerbated the shortage. And then there are the metals and rare earths that are essential for our consoles and our smartphones,” the Gamesplanet boss lists.

Like washing machines

How to meet these challenges? As a game distributor, Pierre Forest primarily relies on player information. “When you buy a washing machine, the first thing you look at is the power consumption, rated from A+++ to F. That doesn’t currently exist for PCs or consoles,” says Bordeaux. And yet, depending on the configuration of the computers (poorly adjusted power supply, etc.), the consumption can vary between 1 and 10 with the same use.

What a platform like Gamesplanet can do first is scan customers’ computers and tell them if their performance can support a particular game, depending on their greed for graphics resources. “This answers questions that many gamers are asking, while also making them aware of the power consumption and footprint of their activity,” hopes Pierre Forest.

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