THE BIG STORY: TELL­TALE GAMES

Tell­tale Games’ re­leases are in doubt fol­low­ing the shock news that it is shed­ding most of its staff with im­me­di­ate ef­fect

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Over the past few years we’ve wit­nessed a fair share of de­vel­oper tragedies, with ma­jor stu­dios clos­ing their doors and mass lay-offs putting hun­dreds of ta­lented peo­ple out of work. How­ever, it seems like these in­ci­dents are be­com­ing more fre­quent and bru­tal in their im­pact.

One of the lat­est ca­su­al­ties of the in­dus­try is Tell­tale Games, which on 21 Septem­ber an­nounced via a state­ment on its of­fi­cial Twit­ter feed that it would “be­gin a ma­jor­ity stu­dio clo­sure fol­low­ing a year marked by in­sur­mount­able chal­lenges”. This sent a wave of shock that re­ver­ber­ated through­out the gam­ing com­mu­nity and raised many ques­tions, once again, about the state of the in­dus­try and its abil­ity, or lack thereof, to pro­tect the peo­ple that help make these games pos­si­ble.

The state­ment went on to say, “A ma­jor­ity of the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees were dis­missed ear­lier this morn­ing, with a small group of 25 em­ploy­ees stay­ing on to ful­fil the com­pany’s obli­ga­tion to its board and part­ners.” It con­tin­ued to in­clude a state­ment di­rectly from Tell­tale Games CEO Pete Haw­ley. “It’s been an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult year for Tell­tale as we worked to set the com­pany on a new course. Un­for­tu­nately, we ran out of time try­ing to get there. We re­leased some of our best con­tent this year and re­ceived a tremen­dous amount of pos­i­tive feed­back, but ul­ti­mately, that did not trans­late to sales. With a heavy heart, we watch our friends leave to­day to spread our brand of sto­ry­telling across the games in­dus­try.”

This news came as a com­plete sur­prise to many, in­clud­ing Tell­tale’s staff who, ear­lier that same morn­ing, were happy to share new gifs of the game on their Twit­ter feed.

The stu­dio has been de­vel­op­ing games since 2005 but it was the re­lease of their adap­ta­tion of Robert Kirk­man’s The Walk­ing Dead in 2012 that won them crit­i­cal ac­claim and a mul­ti­tude of awards. This put Tell­tale on the map as pi­o­neers of episodic nar­ra­tive games.

The com­pany then ac­quired li­cences for huge fran­chises such as Border­lands, Game Of Thrones, Bat­man and Minecraft, to name a few. There were pre­vi­ous signs of worry in Novem­ber of last year when the stu­dio laid off 90 mem­bers of staff and re­ports started to sur­face of over­worked staff. But from an out­side per­spec­tive it was busi­ness as usual, with sev­eral games very much in the works in­clud­ing the fi­nal sea­son of

TheWalk­ingDead and re­port­edly a StrangerThings game.

Tales told

Fol­low­ing the lay-offs sev­eral Tell­tale staff turned to Twit­ter to shed light on the sit­u­a­tion. Nar­ra­tive de­signer Emily Grace Buck ex­plained that “around

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