The critically acclaimed developers of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, The Chinese Room have effectively shut down, company co-founder Dan Pinchbeck revealed in a heartfelt blog post today. However, it is not necessarily the end of the studio, but more of a hiatus after the conclusion of their most recent game So Let Us Melt.
The catalyst seems to have been a health scare that Pinchbeck went through in June – thankfully nothing too serious – that combined with the pressures of keeping a studio running and its financial burden have meant that the studio has scaled down to practically nothing. The team have been laid off and the offices have been closed down.
In wide reaching an interview with Eurogamer – which is well worth a read – it sounds like they handled it about as well as possible, making sure that the team of twelve knew what would happen after the end of that development cycle, so that they could then try to look to the future, instead of simply telling people at the end of development, which seems to be the usual scenario. Additionally, they kept this news quiet for a couple of months after So Let Us Melt’s release, so as not to overshadow the game and the efforts put into it.
The Chinese Room still exists, though. Pinchbeck, Jessica Curry and Andrew Crawshaw will continue working on The 13th Interior, previously announced as Total Dark, until its ready for a larger team once more, and the same is true of their prototypes for Little Orpheus. It’s more a case that the studio, even at twelve people, would have had a number of idle hands during this time.
We look forward to seeing what they have in store next, and hope that all the team that have had to move on have found work elsewhere.