Sumo Digital buys The Chinese Room

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Crackdown 3 developer Sumo Digital has bought The Chinese Room, the studio behind Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther.

Sumo Digital said: “We are pleased to announce that our parent company, Sumo Group, has acquired The Chinese Room from founders Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry. Dan will take the role of Creative Director of The Chinese Room, while Jessica will continue her career independently as a composer.”

Sumo Group CEO Carl Cavers added: “I am really pleased that Dan has chosen to join Sumo Group. We believe Dan’s renowned creative abilities will add real value to Sumo Group. The Chinese Room has an outstanding reputation and its acquisition will enhance and extend Sumo Digital’s capabilities. Having a studio in the south of England opens new doors for the Group and we are confident that it will create exciting opportunities.”

The Chinese Room’s Creative Director Dan Pinchbeck said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Sumo Digital, a network of studios I’ve a huge amount of respect for. Sumo will provide the support and experience I’m looking for to take The Chinese Room to the next level. Our aim is to build on the reputation I’m proud to have earned, to create a truly world-class studio delivering bold, imaginative new games. We’re already working on some really fantastic new concepts, alongside discussions with partners about some of the games we already have in the pipeline.” 

The acquisition marks a stunning comeback for The Chinese Room: in July 2017, Pinchbeck and Curry laid off the company’s eight staff, closed its Brighton studio and started working from home. Pinchbeck alluded to that in a blog post: “Following the studio’s closure in summer 2017, we were faced with a decision. We knew we didn’t want to just start over, trying to recapture a time in our history where we could push out arthouse titles and survive the process. 

“Firstly, those existing concepts that didn’t get made. They 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. 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.”

Undoubtedly, more details will emerge in the near future, so you might want to keep an eye on The Chinese Room’s website.