News 13.12.2023

2023 Wrapped: A Year at Sumo Group

Amidst industry challenges, Sumo continues to move forward. We’ve worked with exceptional partners, continued to progress our ESG goals, attended industry events and meet up, and continued to create great games… all while celebrating our 20th anniversary.

Sumo turns 10

When Sumo started out in 2003, the games industry was just about to begin its meteoric rise to become a titan of the entertainment industry. The increasingly wide-spread ownership of home consoles and the creation of bigger and better games featuring stronger gameplay, breathtaking graphics and intricate design marked the beginning of an industry on the rise. Since then, the games industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs, consumer habits have shifted, and it even grew despite all odds during a global pandemic. A lot has changed in 20 years, but one thing remains the same: the games industry is full of passionate, creative and innovative people who want to make great games.

For Sumo, our 20th year has been something special: we’ve not only released some impressive games and had the opportunity to contribute to some of the biggest titles in the world but have announced some incredibly exciting projects in the pipeline. To mark 20 years of innovation, we celebrated our vicennial anniversary in style and brought our people from all over the world together with events like our internal conference, SDC (Sumo Developer Conference), and our big birthday bash, SumoFest. We also took the time to sit down with our founders and reflect on 20 years and the history of Sumo, in an original four part content series: The moments that shaped Sumo.

Welcome to the family

In September, we welcomed Midoki to Sumo Digital’s family of studios. This Leamington-based studio. which has released titles including Knighthood and Plunder Pirates, bring their extensive expertise in live service and mobile game development as we continue to strengthen our capability in original, free-to-play and games-as-service development.

Great games

Of course, it wouldn’t be a year at Sumo if we didn’t have some new games on our roster… and 2023 was a busy one!

From Sumo Digital, our team at Sumo Nottingham released the asymmetrical horror game The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in partnership with publisher Gun Interactive, which has seen almost 5 million players test their mettle since launch. Sumo Digital studios also announced titles coming next year, including Stampede: Racing Royale for Sumo Leamington, and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 and Still Wakes the Deep for Brighton-based The Chinese Room. Finally, the Sumo Digital Academy 2022/2023 cohort released its project, Zool: Redimensioned on PlayStation 4.

Auroch Digital’s tabletop-loving team released 90s-inspired retro shooter Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun in partnership with Focus Interactive which has received critical and player acclaim. The Studio also took part in a myriad of Steam festivals to bring fans together, including Digital Tabletop Fest: Blood & Dice and SimFest, and announced Mars Horizon 2: The Search for Life will be launching to life on Steam.

From our publishing division, the Secret Mode team have been busy in the bunker working on some major releases and announcements. New releases for this year included aquatic adventure title Loddlenaut from developer Moon Lagoon and madcap motoring multiplayer game, Make Way, from developer Ice BEAM. Also announced by Secret Mode is traversal traveling title, Parcel Corps, coming soon from Billy Goat Entertainment.

Sumo studios all over the world have also been working with a range of incredible parts on some of the biggest games of the year, including WB Games, Rare, NetherRealm Studios, Microsoft, Turn10, 343 Industries, INGAME Studios and more!

Going for gold

We’ve been humbled to receive some incredible accolades this year. Most recently, we received 3 stars from Best Companies for a fourth consecutive year, and end 2023 as the #10 Best Company to Work For in the UK.

Sumo Group collected a duo of awards for its commitment to talent development and was named Talent Development Star at the Develop:Star Awards and received the Talent Development Award at the TIGA Awards. At the Game Republic Awards, Sumo Group picked up the Inclusivity Award for its commitment to making the games industry a home for everyone.

Sumo Digital celebrated success this year as it was awarded Best Creative/Co-Development Partner at the MCV/Develop Awards and Best Large Studio at the TIGA Awards. Within Sumo Digital, Atomhawk collected Best Creative Provider at the Develop:Star Awards and the Sumo Digital Academy ends the year with two nominations under its belt – with course leader (and Director of Education Partnerships) Dr Jacob Habgood receiving a nomination for Inspiring Course Leader at the Game Republic Awards, and the Academy being named runner up at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

Our people were also recognised for their hard work, commitment to inclusivity and diversity in the games industry and more. We’re proud to have seen them bring home awards from ceremonies including GI.Biz GameChangers, 30 Under 30, Game Dev Heroes, the Game Republic Awards, and to have been nominated at many more including Develop:Star, MCV/Develop Women in Games, the TIGA Awards, Women in Tech Excellence, GI.Biz Best Places to Work and Midlands Women in Tech.

Giving back

Supporting charities has always been a core value of Sumo, and we’ve loved seeing all our studios and people level up their fundraising this year for a range of incredible charities, including our trio of partner charities: SpecialEffect, GamesAid and Solving Kids’ Cancer UK.

We were proud to support the inaugural British Racing Greats event in aid of SpecialEffect and Solving Kids’ Cancer UK which brought the games industry together for a day of cars, cash and caring. The event raised over £100,000 for the two charities and saw hundreds of people excited for the chance to check out some of their favourite racing games and even get a lap with The Stig!

We also saw the return of the One Button Game Jam in aid of SpecialEffect’s One Special Day – where teams from across Sumo volunteered their time to develop games around the theme of ‘one button’ and spend time thinking about accessibility in games.

All of Sumo’s studios are proud to support charities within their local communities and have gotten together to raise funds and awareness for them through volunteering days, fundraising activities and donations. Plus, our people have been lacing up their football boots, giving Mary Berry a run for her money with their bakes, running, go-karting and swimming for charity this year.

Green in games

2023 has seen us continue to make progress and positive impact with our ESG goals, and we’re happy to have been able to make further improvements across the business for a greener games industry.

Just some of our key actions this year include assessments of energy consumption for remote working, the addition of Green Perk to our business travel booking platform, the recycling of hardware and ensuring all UK electricity contracts that we control are with renewable sources. In addition, we’ve been working to offset our travel wherever possible, including for flagship events such as SDC, SumoFest and GDC, for which we offset 100% of emissions through Make It Wild.

You can find more information on Sumo Group’s ESG progress in our October 2023 ESG Report.

An industry for all

Creating a diverse, welcoming and inclusive industry for everyone to thrive is incredibly important to us, and we’re delighted to have continued this mission throughout 2023.

First, the Sumo Digital Academy – a talent development programme creating new pathways into the games industry – had its biggest ever year. The 2022/2023 cohort released Zool: Redimensioned on PlayStation 4 in partnership with Secret Mode and were the first in the country to graduate on a programming apprenticeship recognised by the UK Government. The graduating cohort have all secured permanent roles within a Sumo Digital studio, and the Academy has since welcomed its 2023/2024 Apprentices, and its 2023 Diversity Interns.

Elsewhere, our internal Inclusion & Belonging community, PRISM, celebrated its second anniversary. What started as small group of people passionate about diversity in games, has blossomed into a safe and strong community of over 350+ members dedicated to creating meaningful, lasting change. This year, PRISM launched its revamped streams, with new executive sponsors and has begun to roll out its regular events, including monthly Kaleidoscopic Topics and quarterly Refractions & Reflections.

In addition to PRISM, we’ve had the chance to work with some fantastic partners to support and encourage underrepresented groups to get into the games industry. From sponsoring mentoring and education initiatives like Limit Break and Code Coven, to delivering a comprehensive series of talks and panels for Women in Games or education sessions with local schools via the Ahead Partnership, to seeing our people go through the Mission Gender Equity cross-company mentoring programme – 2023 has been full of positive change, meaningful partnerships and new opportunities.

It’s been a year packed with great games, powerful partnerships, amazing awards and important initiatives. We’d like to say thank you our people for their continued hard work, support and passion for the industry.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.