This paper tries to assess the factors governing the tribological behaviour of different nanocomposites films composed by metallic carbides (MeC) mixed with amorphous carbon (a-C). Different series of MeC/a-C coatings (with Me: Ti(B) and W) were prepared by magnetron sputtering technique varying the power applied to the graphite target in order to tailor the carbon content into the films. A deep investigation of the chemical and structural features at the nano-scale is carried out by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) and Raman spectroscopy techniques in order to establish correlations with the tribological properties measured by a pin-on-disk tribometer in ambient air. The analysis of the counterfaces by Raman confocal microscopy after the friction tests is used to follow the chemical phenomena occurring at the contact area responsible of the observed friction behaviour. The importance of determining the fraction of C atoms in the amorphous phase (xa-C) is highlighted as a key-parameter to control the tribological properties. A comparative analysis of the mechanical and tribological performance of the three systems (TiC/a-C, WC/a-C, TiBC/a-C) is done and conclusions are obtained concerning the friction and wear mechanism involved.