So Let Us Melt and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture developer, The Chinese Room, is to temporarily shut its doors, according to a blog post from The Chinese Room’s Dan Pinchbeck.
The temporary closure, or ‘going dark’ as Pinchbeck refers to it, has seen jobs go at the studio (reportedly as far back as June according to an interview Pinchbeck had with Eurogamer today), with Andrew Crawshaw and Jessica Curry become the only remaining staff in addition to Pinchbeck. "Lay-offs are never pleasant, particularly when you’re all trying to wrap a game," said Pinchbeck on the blog.
"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."
The closure has come about due to financial pressures and due to a change in personal circumstances and health issues. The studio’s most recent release, So Let Us Melt was released on Google’s Daydream VR platform on September 21st, and the studio has been unable to secure funding for a follow-up project.
Existing projects like The 13th Interior, merchandise sales and the upcoming tour of Dear Esther live will still continue. There will also be a prototype period for a project called Little Orpheus at the end of the year but there will be no full development team working on the project. According to an interview with Eurogamer on the closure, funding has been granted by Creative Europe to make the title but the funds are yet to come through.
"Jess and I, who made a hit game without realising it, and became a studio faster than we planned for," continued Pinchbeck. "And it’s been an amazing few years where we’ve made and released games we’re very proud of, and we’ve worked with great people and made great friends.
"But we’re makers, fundamentally, and our roles were increasingly making it very difficult to be practically involved in doing the things we love and we started the company to be able to do. We’re taking time to figure that out; how we get to be creatives, not managing directors. That’s a whole other job and skill set and lots of people do it really well and love doing it. But it’s not for us – it just led to stress and burn-out and a desperate need to actually make stuff again- whether that’s art, music, games, writing. So this break is a chance to reconnect with all of that, and we figure we’ve earned that time."