Concept art for Mictlan video game

Concept art for Mictlan video game

Mexico is the biggest video game consumer in Latin America with an estimated $8 billion in video console games alone. So, Mexico’s move towards becoming a regional power in this industry shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“Mexico is in the process of creating a video games industry precisely because of the huge market it has. At this very moment there is no other country in Latin America immersed in this process, or developing a project like Mictlan,” said Guillermo Alarcón, founder and creative director of Meta Studios, the company developing the first Latin American AAA video game.

The term “AAA Game” is a classification used within the video gaming industry to signify high-budget, high-profile games.

Even though the game has some indie genes, Alarcón considers Mictlan to be in a new category: “independent AAA.”

According to Alarcón, it takes between 70 and 200 people to produce an AAA-rated game in an indie studio; in a commercial studio that number can reach 400. For this AAA project one of the challenges is the lack of trained professionals because there is no a formal video game industry in Mexico.

“What we are doing at Meta Studios is planning some four years ahead. For the last two years we’ve been providing workshops, training, technical advice to our artists, programmers and technicians so they learn how to use the technological tools available, so that, by the time the project is launched (2025), they are sufficiently proficient in the use of those tools and be able to go to work on other projects or develop their own businesses,” Alarcón said.

Another challenge is financing. “This kind of development requires between $10 and $20 million, and there are no investors in Latin America willing to pony-up money in multimillion dollar projects,” said Meta’s founder.

Nevertheless, in Mictlan’s case suitors came knocking at Meta’s door.

Alarcón mentioned two mayor industry players were initially interested in Mictlan: Microsoft and Sony. After evaluating both offers, Alarcón declined Microsoft’s first-party partnership proposal and signed-up with Sony Playstation Studios.

“The deal with Sony is, basically, to create a Playstation Studio in Latin America so they can position themselves as leaders on the regional market. That is to say, we become one of their studios, but we keep the copyright of Mictlan,” explained Alarcón. “For us, it is very important to keep IP (intellectual property).”

Meta Studios is now in the last phase of the negotiations with Sony, while working on different pipeline tests of the project. “If the proposed budget ($15 million) is approved we could be initiating the second and third phases of the project soon,” said the creative director.

The Game

Mictlan is an action-adventure, third-person video game set in 15th century Mexico, during the Spanish conquest. The game is set in a fantasy world heavily inspired by Mesoamerican cultures, customs, and myths.

“For whatever reasons, there is a generalized notion that national historical elements of our culture are not appreciated. Well, this video game offers the opportunity for some sort of reunion with that cultural heritage that has allegedly been forgotten,” Alarcón argued.

The first challenge Alarcón had to face was how to capture that heritage in a video game without offending the country’s native peoples and their cultures, which are very much alive in modern-day Mexico.

“The idea is to create a video game that entertains, educates and doesn’t disrespect the culture by fueling-up the stereotypes surrounding Mesoamerican peoples,” said Alarcón.

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