Unfortunate news from The Chinese Room has reached media outlets today. According to a blog post from founder Dan Pinchbeck, the studio laid off most of its staff and has plans to go dark. The independent games creator is most famously known for works like Dear Esther, the Amnesia series, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Now the company is facing an uncertain future but there is still hope for this small studio.
Pinchbeck detailed in his post that he had suffered from a non-life-threatening health condition back in June, which gave him and his team time to reflect on the condition of the company. This was following the development of their latest game, So Let Us Melt, and negotiation meetings for the next project the team was planning.
“To cut a long story short, the situation–between financial pressures, trying to keep the lights on for the employed team, the stress of end-of-development, health issues–just wasn’t a tenable thing anymore. It was time to take a break, recharge, recover, and have a good think about the future,” Pinchbeck said in the blog post.
Ultimately, this led to the decision to lay off the development team. “So we let our team go,” Pinchbeck continues “Layoffs are never pleasant, particularly when you’re all trying to wrap a game. We did our best to try and help the team secure new positions, and then we all–the whole team–threw everything we had at wrapping the game. It didn’t feel fair to anyone, least of all people who had spent a year working on a project, to have its completion and release overshadowed by news about the studio closing, so we’ve held off on the announcement until we felt we were clear of all of that.” (http://bit.ly/2ftvjFo)
The developer also detailed that he was not the end of The Chinese Room, merely a small break to recollect their thoughts and goals. As of now the games currently released will stay on sale as well as merch and the fantastic soundtracks that accompany their projects. Currently, the studio has been downsized to just three people, they are working on a game known as the 13th Interior and will bring on a bigger team when the time is right. As for the future, Pinchbeck said the studio has secured funding for a follow-up game called Little Orpheus and is expected for prototyping by the end of 2017.
Pinchbeck finished the post with “Is it the end of The Chinese Room? No, I don’t think so. But it’s the end of a chapter, and we hope you can all be patient with us whilst we figure out what happens next.” Hopefully, this statement rings true because this studio is one of the most talented and has created some of the most beautiful stories in gaming. It is never easy for a studio to downsize like this but unfortunately that is the nature of the industry. An official media meeting is expected to take place later this week so keep your eyes peeled for more information.
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