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Sumo acquires The Chinese Room

by Rhys ap Gwyn

Finding a new home for the Dear Esther studio.

EGTTR

Sumo Group, the parent company behind Sumo Digital (the guys developing Crackdown 3 and Team Sonic Racing) have acquired The Chinese Room, the developer behind the critically acclaimed Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

In a tweet earlier today, Sumo Digital said it’s excited to welcome its fifth studio, adding to its UK-based studios of Sheffield, Nottingham, Newcastle and its India-based Pune studio.

The Chinese Room is known for its Half-Life 2 mod, Dear Esther: a first-person exploration game where you wander around a series of islands while listening to the story of a man and the death of his wife unfold. They also developed the very popular  Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, where you explore a small English town as the story surrounding the disappearance of its inhabitants unravels.

Back in 2017, the studio announced via a blog post that it was laying off its staff just at the tail-end of work on its VR title So Let Us Melt, citing unfortunate health issues, financial pressures and development stress. So Let Us Melt was completed and released for Google’s Daydream VR later that year.

The only members of the team joining Sumo are the director and composer from Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Jessica Curry and its writer, Dan Pinchbeck. Hopefully Sumo will allow the two to do what they do best, this time, without the pressures of running an entire studio and the bonus of some significant resources and experience at their disposal. Indeed Pinchbeck mentions in a new post this morning that the way Sumo works with partner studios made the deal seem like a “no brainer.” He goes on to say that work for some of the their games, such as The 13th Interior, is still going ahead and teases a new title, something even bigger, something that “joining Sumo enables us to pursue.”

It’s unknown whether this will take the form of another walking-simulator, a genre which has become quite popular, or if the duo will perhaps return to something a bit darker, like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, their collaboration with Frictional Games,

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However The Chinese Room’s story unfolds we can be glad their talents are not lost and excited by the potential they wield at a company like Sumo, who have years of experience creating great games and huge titles.

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