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