Ad­ven­ture stu­dio Tell­tale Games suf­fers sud­den ma­jor­ity clo­sure

PC GAMER (UK) - - MONITOR - Andy Kelly

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 crit­i­cised 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 pri­ori­tise pay­ing staff sev­er­ance over fin­ish­ing the se­ries.

This is one of the messi­est, most pub­li­cised 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.

A sec­ond se­ries of TheWolfA­mongUs has now been can­celled.

ABOVE, TOP: Big re­leases like Gameof Thrones brought in high-pro­file ac­tors.

ABOVE, BOT­TOM:The fate of the fi­nal sea­son of The Walk­ingDead is un­cer­tain.

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