Independent video game star digital plug-in takes it to the next level

Plug in’s digital adventure began in January 2012. “Not in my garage, but in the room I occupied, in the Paris region,” smiles Francis Ingrand, its founder. At the time, the entrepreneur, who worked for the development of e-commerce in the late 1990s and early 2000s, was “completely alone.” Today, this start-up, one of the stars of independent video game distribution and publishing, which has moved to Montpellier (Hérault), employs 45 people.

During the last five years, Plug In Digital has experienced an annual growth of more than 50%. Opened offices in China. And it has just completed a raising of 70 million euros, with the British investment company Bridgepoint Development Capital and the French group Eurazeo. If the rise of digital Plug-in is so dazzling, it is because Francis Ingrand opted, ten years ago, for the dematerialization of video games, when this market was just in its infancy. At the time, the Steam platform, which allows you to play online, didn’t have the punching power that it has today, and we continue to buy boxed video games in droves.

“We arrived at the right time”

“The market was going digital,” continues Francis Ingrand. It was still rare and relatively complex. Companies needed to help publishers and developers to sell better in this sector. I told myself that there was something to do. We got to the moment. By making, in recent years, “the right decisions”, continues the entrepreneur: bet on the Switch, Nintendo, while few believed in its launch, or ignore augmented reality and virtual reality.

With its labels Dear Villagers and PID Games, Plug in digital has published some sixty games and distributed more than 3,000 games on PCs, consoles or smartphones, developed by small studios, but also experts in the sector: The forgotten city, A normal lost phone. , Edge of eternity, Splasher, Lost in harmony … All dematerialized. Only a small part of the company’s turnover is based on game boxes. Because Francis Ingrand is convinced: the physical environment will gradually disappear in video games. “This is the meaning of the story,” he says. We can see it with the new generation of consoles, the development of games in the cloud … There will always be collector’s versions, but retail [la vente dans les magasins] it is called to diminish. “

The Naheulbeuk game, brought by Plug in digital – Naheulbeuk / Plug in digital

If today Plug in digital only publishes and distributes games, it is not excluded with this 70 million euro acquisition that it is beginning to develop. “It is likely that in the acquisitions that we are going to make, there will be game development studios,” says Francis Ingrand, who recalls that originally, Ubisoft, today one of the most popular developers. More prolific, he was a video game distributor. .

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