Is this the end of Matajuegos? Yes.

Exactly 8 years ago, on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016, Matajuegos was born as a blog for videogame criticism and analysis from a social and Latin American perspective. About 4 years later, in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, we started consolidating as a horizontal and cooperative game dev studio. Today, after another 4 years, and a long string of successes we’re very proud of, we have decided to close our doors.

There’s no single and totalizing reason for the closure. There are a number of realities that make us prefer this decision over others. If there was One Big Problem endangering the project, we’d just roll up our sleeves and look for the Secret Solution. Unfortunately, Matajuegos has always been a space where we question these simple readings and try to provide a more complex and realistic understanding of things.

The end of the blog

As a blog, we’ve always taken advantage of our lack of economic obligations to do whatever we feel like doing. For a long time, we felt like writing articles, translating other writers, giving talks, recording podcasts, and producing videos. For the past few years, however, we’ve been deprioritizing the blog to focus on other personal projects. To be sincere, the main reason why we won’t continue on with the blog, is that we really just don’t feel like it.

We treasure the deep and animated conversations that our articles and thoughts inspired in the local gamedev community (and beyond). Some of us even treasure the most repetitive and exasperating conversations. But we also recognize that there are different conversations happening today, that they take place in other spaces, and that we have become different people who want to participate in other ways.

The end of the studio

As a studio, we started with more ambitious expectations. The first was that an organic group of 8 friends could build a company without any kind of business plan and that, with some minimal networking effort (and sometimes not even that), we’d receive constant offers from clients who would hire us to develop games that were in sync with our social and artistic values and would finance their entire development just so that we could release them to the public for free. That utopian, naive, and quite frankly irresponsible expectation turned out to be 100% correct.

We released five games which made us proud and also kept us fed. Some of them ended up in the newspaper, others traveled around the world (sometimes we traveled with them), won awards, and enjoyed a much greater degree of success than we had dared to anticipate. Sometimes a project reaches a certain point, perhaps after being presented at the Cannes Festival or being declared of cultural interest by the Provincial Legislature of Mendoza, where it can no longer be seen as an up-and-coming venture waiting for a hit that might just be around the corner. We’re under the impression that we’ve already done several laps around the block and we can rest assured that we’ve secured a place in some version of history.

The truth is that, in these last 8 years, all of us at Matajuegos have grown a lot, each in their own direction and towards their personal interests. Some of us have traveled together, others met new partners along the way. The conversations that united us in the beginning and which sparked the blog and the studio still excite us today, but we each want to develop them in different ways, with our own peculiarities and perspective. We feel that the best way to do that and to empower each other is by giving ourselves the freedom, the time, and the space to be on our own. We’re sure we’ll keep collaborating occasionally, in pairs and in small groups, but it will be on specific projects, with their own identities and trajectories, outside of the umbrella of Matajuegos that sheltered us for all these years.

These are but a few of the 20 reasons why Matajuegos is coming to an end today. Would you like to know what the rest are? You’ll have to ask us in person (number 14 will surprise you). But beware! Each former member of Matajuegos has their own list that contradicts the others, and the True Motive can only be found by deciphering the following code: elcitra siht fo hpargarap driht eht morf sdrow neves tsal eht.

Cooperative clarification

In order to make Matajuegos into a development studio, we decided to establish legal personhood, and we did it under the form of a worker cooperative (which, in summary, is a horizontal company where all workers are also owners). We initially weren’t sure we could call it the first one, but the years have come and gone and everything indicates that we were in fact the first videogame co-op in Argentina.

We still believe in cooperativism. It was the option that allowed us to last this long with such relatively few headaches. In a more intimate conversation, we might advise you against establishing a company with your group of friends without a clear idea of what to use it for and the barest minimum business plan. We recognize, however, that our long history of success is perhaps not the best cautionary tale to dissuade you from making the same questionable choices we did.

The truth is, this is a volatile industry (something we’ve never been coy to point out) where keeping a studio afloat for a few years and releasing 5 games to a high degree of recognition is a lot more than most people get the chance to do, regardless of what type of organization they might have established.

These years of cooperativism put us in touch with a lot of other co-ops and organizations that dare to think about the economy in a different way. A collective, democratic, and humane economy that puts people and workers first, that prioritizes stability and sustainability over unlimited and exploitative profit, that is concerned with building culture, education, and society. A different economy to the one established by the industry, and very different to the one being proposed by the libertarianism that looms over Argentina today (and which we repudiate, in case there was any doubt). Hard times are coming for new ventures and even just for survival, but at times like these we like to remember that Matajuegos was born at the start of another government, one that looks more and more similar to the current one with each passing day, and we managed to outlast it.

On a more optimistic note, we’ve also been getting to know new videogame co-ops and studios in the process of cooperativizing: Bicho Raro, El Faro, FundAV, Libromancy Studios, and Cooperativa Tucumán Videojuegos to name but nearly all of them. We’re very happy to see more developers join this organizational model. If anybody wants to misconstrue history and paint us as the instigators of a revolutionary wave of Latin American videogame cooperativism, we’d be very grateful.

Life after Matajuegos

Now, you must be thinking, “Finally! I won’t have to see any more of these woke SJWs who want to force politics into my video games and who can’t even stand one another.” Well, actually no. Unfortunately, all of us at Matajuegos still like one another a bunch, and we have tons and tons of parallel projects that we’ll proceed to enumerate. Do us a favor and follow anything that looks even remotely interesting to you so we’ll stay in contact. In other words: don’t be a stranger.

On the one hand, there’s the people:

  • David releases his games on Itch.io and has been uploading songs about the economy and videos about linguistics to TikTok. His personal homepage is proof that he is on every social media site known to science, and that there’s no amount of public exposure he deems excessive.
  • Fede continues on the path of music. His compositions, made with dedication and love, can be listened to on his Bandcamp or his SoundCloud. You can also play the games he’s participated in by going to his Itch.io page. For other random things you can follow him on Instagram, where inevitably, he also uploads music-related things.
  • Leno is trying to be more active on their social media (it doesn’t matter when you read this), but you’ll most likely find them on Instagram or Twitch, where they draw live or pause games every 5 minutes to perform dissertations on narrative and design.
  • Mer is always everywhere at the same time, and she’d be super glad if you’d follow her on social media. Besides freelancing on a bunch of projects, she makes her own games, you can buy T-shirts with her illustrations, and read her work (or listen to it!) in Press Over and Loop (from year 3 on).
  • Pablo continues to do administration work for Matajuegos, because even dying requires a lot of paperwork and there’s emails to respond to from beyond the grave. They also continue to work on Atuel, which will launch an update soon, and to give talks about it. (They should be presenting one at GDC in a few days.) They are also teaching at a few universities and wish dearly that they were sleeping, but that’s still a few months away.
  • Rumpel is making games at DOMINO CLUB.
  • Other members of Matajuegos are very happy with the public exposure they already have, and they wouldn’t even begrudge losing a few followers, so they’re not sharing links just because.

On the other hand, there’s the projects:

  • Cuatro Assets is Mer, Fede and David’s development team, nearly as old as Matajuegos (and for a time a part of it), and now newly independent. Last year they launched a game about pigs that fly and they’re currently developing a dystopian tango western called 23rd Century Cambalache.
  • Criptiñol is the new YouTube channel where David continues to solve Spanish-language cryptic crosswords, as he previously did on the Matajuegos channel.
  • Mi madre juega (My mom plays) is in the exact same situation as Criptiñol, so subscribe to that new channel also if you want to continue watching David’s mom face the disconcerting world of videogames.

One last thing…

Thank you so much for reading our work, playing our games, and supporting us all these years!

We’re very happy to have met so many warm, smart, and amazing people thanks to Matajuegos—people who approached us and our project with a lot of kindness in spite of all of our efforts to make the entire gaming world hate us.

To those of you who feel Matajuegos added something to your lives over the years, we ask but one thing: share this article, or any of our work which you remember fondly, and tell us what Matajuegos meant to you. We promise that it will help brighten these uncertain days for us.

Best regards and so long!

Image: L’assassinio di Giulio Cesare by Tancredi Scarpelli