Hi! I am Gabriel Jiménez and this is my first post here in ADBAD! I am a game programmer, and I’m studying a Masters Degree in Computer Science at ITESM CCM.
DISCLAIMER: These opinions are my own.
I want this post to state some facts about game development in my country Mexico, and serve as a little introduction for future posts that will dwelve deeper into more specific topics on how the local industry rises little by little. Every sub-topic in this post will have its own post in the near future!
Mexico has a great background as a videogame consumer country; despite some negative issues (like piracy) we continue to be a great market. Here’s a footprint of the Mexican gamer:
- Estimated gamer population is about 75 million.
- Average age is 35 years.
- 40% are woman.
- 59% are willing to spend between $160 and $320 USD for a videogame system.
- 20% play everyday.
- 13% play online games.
So there are lots of gamers, but the developer world is very little (even though some bigger companies have stablished studios around the country e.g. Gameloft). And as of today, the mayor industry event is focused on comercialization rather than development.
One little piece of knowledge that I have aquired through observation is that most of the Mexican gamers think local productions and games have no quality (using kind words), even that if you ask them why they don’t really know or they only know one title or two.
As the industry grows, gamedev specialized education is also starting to make presence. There are more than 20 programs now with some percentage of specialization, from going to a couple of optional courses, to full programming or art degrees (production and game design are practically inexistent at the time), which is great, but I see two main issues with education at the moment:
- Students are enthusiast about gamedev but they don’t really know what’s about, and in the first semesters, many of them get dissapointed and lose focus (from the excellent posts by Jon Moore I can infer that this happens a lot even in other countries).
- And the other is that teachers in these programs tend to have little or none real gamedev experience.
Of course there are some other issues (from administrative to governmental) that we need to solve, but efforts are already being done.
The world of AAA is currently a path only known by a handful of local studios and was made possible by the birth of Slang, the first Latin American publisher for console games:
- Slang Studios, fomerly known as Sabarasa Mexico is a Mexico City based studio that realeased two Wii titles under the publishing of Slang.
- Larva Game Studios in Guadalajara, formerly a part of the Colombian company Immersion Games that released a couple of titles in XBLA published by Ubisoft, and Lucha Libre AAA for Xbox360 and PS3 published by Slang.
- Kaxan Games also in Guadalajara is currently developing a Wii title that is going to be published by Slang.
- Xibalba Studios in Monterrey, released on April the PC title Icebreakers.
Some older companies that are forerunners in the local industry, like Snake & Eagle and Radical Studios (now dead) also developed Retail games though not through the conventional means of distribution.
Finally, there are other foreign companies that have stablished studios in the country like Gameloft, Digital Chocolate, and Playsoft.
The indie mission
The other (and most of) Mexcian studios are almos the same as the indie developers all over the world, aiming to other kinds of platforms (PC, mobile, web), distribution and business models, making projects of smaller scope and trying to experiment a little while striving to survive as game makers. Most of them have to make other kind of stuff not strictly related to gamedev (like simulators, advertising media, etc) to keep the dream alive.
Personally find this kind of efforts to be the most interesting because between their fair shares of failures, I think they will drive greater momentum to the local industry in terms of jobs generated, games developed and public exposure.
In the indie post, I will make a list of Mexican indie studios trying to find all of them (with the help of many people of course :)).
So this is the end of my little introductory post, I hope some of you get interested and share your thoughts. There are a lot of points to be covered in upcoming posts and I am still thinking in the best way to organize and present them, so if you have any advice on that I will be very grateful!
Most of the data written here was gathered last year into an online report that can be found HERE (PDF) by the hard work of colleagues and insdustry enthusiasts who are pushing the growth of gamedev in Mexico.