Campo Santo (company)

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Campo Santo Productions LLC
IndustryVideo game industry
FoundedSeptember 18, 2013; 6 years ago (2013-09-18) in San Francisco, US
Key people
Number of employees
12[1] (2018)
ParentValve Corporation (2018–present)

Campo Santo Productions LLC is an American video game developer based in Bellevue, Washington. Founded on September 18, 2013, by Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin, Nels Anderson and Olly Moss, the studio is best known for its debut title, Firewatch (2016). By December 2016, the game had sold over one million copies.[2] In April 2018, the company was acquired by Valve. Campo Santo is developing In the Valley of Gods, set to be released in 2019.


Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin were both at Telltale Games as co-writers (and with Vanaman as co-leader) on The Walking Dead video game, released in 2012, which, for Telltale, was considered its first turn into a more narrative type of episodic adventure game. The Walking Dead was a critical success, and while other projects came along, Vanaman started to become too comfortable with his role at Telltale, and felt that he would be more motivated if there was more discomfort or risk in his duties.[3] After talking about the idea with Rodkin, the two left Telltale and co-founded Campo Santo, joined by Mark of the Ninja designer Nels Anderson and graphic artist Olly Moss in San Francisco on September 18, 2013.[4][5] Soon after, they announced Panic would back their debut video game.[6]

Environment artist Jane Ng and designer and composer Chris Remo (who had also worked with Vanaman and Rodkin on the Idle Thumbs podcast), both at Double Fine Productions at the time, soon joined the team as well.[7][8] After a painting by Moss,[9] Ng adapted the painting's aesthetic style into a 3D environment[9] with the color and inspiration drawn from both New Deal advertisements and icons from the National Park Service[10] as well as a camping trip in Yellowstone National Park in which the team visited a preserved fire lookout tower two miles (3.2 km) from the campsite.[10] Development eventually led to the announcement of Firewatch on March 2014, with release originally slated for 2015.[11]

On August 30, 2014, the game demo was released at PAX West, revealing the overall plotline and story of a fire lookout named Henry in the Shoshone National Forest in 1989.[12] The demo was released again on March 12, 2015 at GDC, which also had a separate booth hosted by Ng containing the art,[13] and at PAX West on September 2, 2016 again.[14] The game was released on February 6, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, OS X and Linux with an Xbox One version released September 21, which included an audio tour and free roam mode.[15][16] The game received positive reviews from critics, and has been nominatively known alongside other "walking simulators".[17] The original score to Firewatch by Chris Remo was released digitally alongside the game, and received a vinyl release later in 2016.[18]

On February 3, 2016, in an interview with Red Bull, Vanaman stated that, although they are in no rush at all, Campo Santo's next game will not be a sequel to Firewatch.[3] On September 26, both Campo Santo and Good Universe issued a partnership to produce a feature film adaptation of Firewatch and other content.[19] In November, the company stated that the game would begin a limited-run physical release towards the end of 2016.[20] Firewatch sold over one million copies, overall.[21]

On June 27, 2016, Ford Motor Company used an image that closely resembled promotional art from Firewatch, which caused controversy from both Panic, Vanaman and others.[22] Shortly thereafter, Quirk Auto Dealers issued an apology, stating that Ford was not involved within the advertisement planning.[23]

On September 10, 2017, Sean Vanaman tweeted that he would be issuing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown against the streamer PewDiePie in response to him using a racist insult while streaming PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.[24] As a result of that move, there was a backlash from the gaming community against the abuse of the DMCA and Firewatch was "review-bombed" on Steam.[25] Ars Technica noted that the company previously stated on their website that they gave open permission to stream and monetize videos made while playing the game.[26]

On April 21, 2018, Campo Santo announced that they had been acquired by Valve Corporation and would subsequently move to Valve's Bellevue, Washington headquarters and continuing In the Valley of Gods as a Valve game.[27] According to Vanaman and Rodkin, after the success of Firewatch, they started internal discussions of where they wanted to take their company. These discussions continued informally with third parties, including Valve's Robin Walker, Erik Johnson and Scott Lynch. These Valve employees suggested that Campo Santo could retain its own direction while being wholly within Valve, yet still draw from Valve's knowledge and expertise. Vanaman and Rodkin discussed this more formally with Valve, ultimately leading to the acquisition.[28][29]

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Genre(s) Publisher(s) Platform(s)
2016 Firewatch Adventure Panic, Campo Santo Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
TBA In the Valley of Gods Valve Corporation Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux


  1. ^ "Campo Santo News". Campo Santo. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  2. ^ Skrebels, Joe (January 4, 2017). "Firewatch Passes 1 Million Sales". IGN. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Dreyer, Pete (February 3, 2016). "Firewatch interview with Campo Santo". Red Bull. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  4. ^ Webster, Andrew (September 24, 2018). "Remembering Telltale Games". The Verge. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  5. ^ Seszek, Mike (September 19, 2013). "Campo Santo studio formed by former Telltale Games, Klei developers". Engadget. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  6. ^ Sasser, Cabel (March 18, 2016). "Panic Blog » Firewatch: One Month Later". Panic. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Kubba, Sinan (February 7, 2014). "Chris Remo leaves Double Fine to join startup Campo Santo". Engadget. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  8. ^ Ng, Jane (February 5, 2015). "Jane Ng". Uses This. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Tach, Dave (March 12, 2015). "Before Firewatch was a 3D world, it was a painting". Polygon. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Ng, Jane (October 22, 2014). "Jane Ng Q&A Part 2". Campo Santo. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  11. ^ Tach, Dave (March 13, 2014). "Firewatch is Campo Santo's first game". Polygon. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  12. ^ Birnbaum, Ian (August 30, 2013). "First-person mystery story Firewatch revealed by Campo Santo at PAX". PC Gamer. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  13. ^ "The Art of Firewatch (GDC 2015)". YouTube. March 12, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  14. ^ Dornbush, Jonathon (September 2, 2016). "PAX 2016: Firewatch for Xbox One Release Date Announced". IGN. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Sherif, Saed (September 5, 2016). "Indie hit Firewatch is coming to Xbox One this month". VG247. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  16. ^ Hossam, Mostafa (September 6, 2016). "Want more Firewatch? It's getting two new modes soon". Kill Screen. Archived from the original on September 8, 2016. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  17. ^ Sims, David (February 11, 2016). "Review: Campo Santo's Hit Indie Video Game Firewatch Channels The Simplicity Of Minecraft, Dear Esther, and Gone Home". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Firewatch Score is Getting Released On Vinyl". Blip Blop. November 23, 2016. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Muncy, Jake (September 26, 2016). "Campo Santo, Good Universe Team for Firewatch Film and More". Wired. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  20. ^ Sarkar, Samit (November 16, 2016). "Firewatch getting limited-edition physical release this year". Polygon. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  21. ^ Leack, Jonathan (January 3, 2017). "Firewatch Burns Down One Million Sales Milestone". Game Revolution.
  22. ^ Daniel, Perez (June 27, 2016). "Ford copies Firewatch official art for Freedom Sales Event promotion". Shacknews. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  23. ^ Ramos, Jeff (June 28, 2016). "Ford uses Firewatch visuals for sales event". Polygon. Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  24. ^ Vanaman, Sean (September 10, 2017). "Twitter".
  25. ^ "Firewatch is getting review-bombed on Steam". September 13, 2017.
  26. ^ Lee, Timothy B. (September 12, 2017). "Here's what the law says about PewDiePie's fight with Campo Santo". Ars Technica. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  27. ^ Alexander, Julia (April 21, 2018). "Valve acquires Firewatch developer, Campo Santo". Polygon. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  28. ^ Dornbush, Jonathon (May 4, 2018). "How Campo Santo's Move to Valve Does, and Doesn't, Affect In the Valley of Gods". IGN. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  29. ^ Walker, John (May 9, 2018). "Exclusive: Campo Santo talk to us about moving to Valve". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved May 9, 2018.

External links[edit]