This month, Sumo Digital celebrates its 15th Anniversary and as part of our celebrations, we’ve been collating some of the team’s favourite memories to share with you all. In 2016 we opened our second UK studio, the third in the Sumo family. Now 2 years on, Nottingham studio director Karl Hilton tells us the story of how the studio was founded and what it’s been like since he joined the Sumo family!
That sentence started a journey that has been interesting, challenging, rewarding and also great fun.
For years Sumo, working diligently up in Sheffield, keeping their heads down, had been successfully making games for companies like Sega and Microsoft. Building up their reputation and business for being, at heart, gamers who knew how to make fun games and were keen to jump in to franchises like Sonic The Hedgehog and Little Big Planet and develop new adventures for the players who love those games.
The Sheffield studio had grown to bursting point and it seemed the time was ripe for an apple to fall from the tree, but as always, not too far. Nottingham, while just a short hop down the M1 from Sheffield is also, in many ways, a very different world. Somewhere between Junctions 27 and 31 ‘The Midlands’ ends and ‘The North’ begins and, more importantly, you enter Yorkshire, one of the most iconic counties of England. Could a company born and bred under the White Rose extend its DNA into a new location and maintain its core culture and essence.
The Nottingham studio started on 14th March 2016. A pristine, freshly renovated studio. It bristled with potential. There was even a McDonald’s next door – Perfect. It was though, at this stage, almost entirely devoid of the talented people it would need to start Sumo’s game making activities away from home. Shiny white desks and jet black chairs sat waiting for new people to come in and start programming, modelling, designing, texturing, animating and all manner of the creative things that need to happen to realise a videogame.
The important quality about a strong, open and creative company culture, of the type Sumo had been cultivating in Sheffield for years, is that it is dynamic and flexible. As the Nottingham studio interviewed people and made job offers, the studio built its culture on the foundations laid down in Sheffield. Sheffield is Sheffield and Nottingham is a different place but the goal to have fun, making games that are fun to play, working in a open, honest and friendly relationships with committed publishers, will work wherever you put it. Sumo recognises that games development is fundamentally a people orientated business, reliant on a commitment to finding and looking after the very best people. Sumo has followed this principle in Sheffield, Pune, Nottingham and Newcastle.
Making games in Nottingham, featuring blue hedgehogs racing cars or future warriors battling on the surface of star-ships is a great way to make a living. Sumo Nottingham has been offering that opportunity and has many more to come in the future. Sumo Nottingham will soon be 100 people strong and it can’t wait to deliver more fun to more gamers…
Happy Birthday, Sumo. Here’s to many more!
– Karl Hilton
Nottingham Studio Director