Sumo Digital (opens in new tab) has acquired Brighton-based developer TheChineseRoom (opens in new tab), creator of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
Sumo, currently working on Crackdown 3, made the announcement earlier today. This was followed by a blog post (opens in new tab) from TheChineseRoom’s co-founder, Dan Pinchbeck, in which he explained the move.
“Following the studio’s closure in summer 2017, we were faced with a decision,” Pinchbeck wrote. “We knew we didn’t want to just start over, trying to recapture a time in our history where a we could push out arthouse titles and survive the process. It was an amazing few years, but it came at a cost, one that I knew I wasn’t about to take on again. And it was time for a change—to make different games, explore new ideas and, if TCR was going to reboot, to evolve into something that opened up new opportunities.”
TheChineseRoom laid off its entire staff (opens in new tab) in July last year, moving out of its Brighton office and entering a state of hibernation, while Pinchbeck worked to prevent it shuttering completely. Two years earlier, the studio’s other founder Jessica Curry left her job co-running TheChinessRoom to purse her career as a composer, although she still retained some presence, providing soundtracks for the studio’s games.
Now that the future is more secure, Pinchbeck went on to explain his plans for future games, stating that a bunch of existing concepts which never went into production “are still very much on the table.”
“Before leaving us to pursue his own games, the uber-talented Andrew Crawshaw and I worked up a new prototype of The 13th Interior, with the fantastic support of the UK Games Fund,” Pinchbeck wrote. “The game still needs a little bit of work to nail down some core mechanics, but then it’s finding the right opportunity to roll out the rest of development. It’s very much still in the plan to finish it up at some point. There were also two other concepts we were playing around with—very different types of games for us—and they will remain gently percolating in the background.”
In addition, Pinchbeck plans to revisit their Google Daydream project So Let Us Melt. “Injecting more mechanics, building on the gorgeous art and audio the old team created and getting it out to a wider audience," which suggests the studio will be bringing the title to new platforms. Finally, Pinchbeck is working with Sumo Digital on a new title that will be “something bigger” than those aforementioned games.
“It’s exciting times. A fresh start,” Pinchbeck concluded. “If this was a game script, a gravelly-voiced man would probably say something about a ‘new dawn’.”