THE TOP STORY
Telltale shuts its doors.
Telltale Games, the studio behind popular adventure games such as The Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, and Minecraft: Story Mode, has suffered a “majority studio closure”, with all but 25 of its staff members losing their jobs. 225 people are out of work and all games have been cancelled. “Today we made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” said Telltale Games CEO Pete Hawley in a Twitter statement. “It’s been an incredibly difficult year for us as we worked to set the company on a new course. Unfortunately, we ran out of time trying to get there.
“With a heavy heart we watch our friends leave today to spread our brand of storytelling across the games industry.”
Telltale has struggled in recent years. In late 2017 it laid off nearly a quarter of its staff and was sued by former CEO Kevin Bruner in June this year. According to a Verge report, Bruner’s tenure at the company was described as toxic, chaotic, and creatively stagnant.
Further to these problems, journalist Joe Parlock also claims, based on unverified information from a “trusted source”, that every Telltale game except for the first season of The Walking Dead was loss-making for the company, Batman in particular was singled out as selling poorly, despite being one of the studio’s best games in recent years.
staff received no severance pay, leaving them in dire straits
When the bad news was announced on September 21, employees were told to leave the building just 30 minutes later. On September 24, according to tweets by former Telltale writer Emily Grace Buck, employees were given three hours to return to the studio and collect their personal belongings. But worst of all, staff received no severance pay, leaving them in dire straits: a decision that was widely criticized by the development community.
The story ends
On September 25, Telltale announced on Twitter that “multiple potential partners” were interested in finishing the final season of The Walking Dead, of which only two episodes were released. The statement received criticism, with some suggesting Telltale should prioritize paying staff severance over finishing the series.
This is one of the messiest, most publicized closures in recent memory, and an example of how precarious working in game development can be. Ultimately, it’s people who make games, and as frustrating as it can be to see a series you’re invested in suddenly stop for whatever reason, you have to remember that there’s real human misery at the core of it. Here’s hoping all the Telltale staff who lost their jobs find work elsewhere in the industry. Andy Kelly
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