Dear Esther: Landmark Edition The Chinese Room

The Chinese Room (TCR), famous for narrative-driven adventures such as Dear Esther, has been acquired by Sumo Group, the parent company of Crackdown 3 developer Sumo Digital.

Sumo Group has purchased TCR from co-founders Dan Pinchbeck and Jessica Curry. Pinchbeck will stay with the company as creative director, whereas Curry will continue her career independently as a composer.

The studio has recently encountered difficulties under Pinchbeck’s and Curry’s tenure, with both laying off all staff in July of last year. After moving studios from Brighton to home, the developer was considering a re-think in philosophy. At that time, TCR was still working on The 13th Interior, which appears now to be cancelled.

Referencing this period of financial difficulty, Pinchbeck said in a statement following news of the acquisition:

“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 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.”

In terms of the future, TCR is now looking to create “something that takes a more traditional game genre […] and lets [it] spin [its own] worlds and stories on top of that.” Despite moving on from walking simulators, Pinchbeck certainly has not lost his thirst for pushing boundaries.

Sumo Group has been on a studio spending spree as of late, purchasing CCP Newcastle in 2016. The company’s primary studio, Sumo Digital, has encountered a multitude of difficulties during the development of Crackdown 3.

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Ben Newman

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