Telltale Games is Closing its Doors, Studio's On-Going Projects Cancelled
The video game developer has announced a majority studio closure and laid off most of its staff.
By Chris Morse
Well, this is some rough news for fans of Telltale Games and their episodic adventures, especially those who have been looking forward to witnessing the end of Clementine's journey in The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The Verge reported earlier today, via several sources close to the company, that the majority of the studio's staff was laid off and the company will be shutting down.
According to these reports, a small staff has been left behind to wrap up some of the studio's obligations, which was later confirmed in the company's official statement on the closing. It does not seem like The Walking Dead series or the previously announced Stranger Things video game adaptation are among the projects that will be completed to the end.
Some rumors around the web have indicated (through anonymous sources) that the skeleton crew being left behind will be working on Minecraft: Story Mode for Netflix. This makes sense because there may be a broader licensing deal in play for that intellectual property, but it's disappointing that we will not see the final episodes of The Walking Dead beyond the next one, which arrives next week.
Although Telltale has not officially announced the cancellation of the above projects, it's only a matter of time before those announcements are made given the state of the mass layoffs within the company. The press release, which you can read below, says as much as well in that fans can expect further comments on their product portfolio in the coming weeks.
That's the only official word at the moment and it does not sound good. With the second episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season receiving an official trailer earlier this week, this closure has come seemingly out of nowhere, especially considering the other big-name licenses they had games currently in development for, such as the previously-mentioned Stranger Things adaptation.
The Walking Dead was already set to wrap up before the end of 2018 but according to former Telltale narrative designer Emily Grace Buck, who is by no means a company representative (especially now), episode 2 of The Walking Dead: The Final Season will still release next week. The remaining episodes will not be finished. She also revealed a few other tidbits about the layoffs, including the cancellation of other projects, which you can read below.
To clarify some questions people have been asking (and keep in mind I am NOT a company rep)— Emily Grace Buck plz hire TTG devs! #Telltalejobs (@emilybuckshot) September 22, 2018
- Around 250 people are jobless, not 225
- We did not get any kind of severance
- Our healthcare only lasts for one more week
- Many former employees were contract & can't get unemployment
I know you're wondering about what's going on with the previously announced games...— Emily Grace Buck plz hire TTG devs! #Telltalejobs (@emilybuckshot) September 22, 2018
- Seems like Walking Dead: The Final Season Ep 2 is still dropping Tuesday
- Wolf S2 & Stranger Things are canceled
- Not sure what else I can say
- Don't ask former devs about it right now
In addition, former lead writer Jessica Krause took to Twitter and expressed her own disappointment that fans will not be able to see all of The Wolf Among Us, illustrating fairly clearly that the studio's similar in-development projects will not see the light of day either. You can read her comments below.
I’m so sad we won’t be able to show you all Wolf. It was the first game I played from TTG, it was the reason I applied and got a job there. It was going to be absolutely magnificent. And I’m sorry we won’t be able to share it with you.— Jessica Krause (@kessjrause) September 21, 2018
All in all, this very likely comes down to sales falling short of expectations despite the addition of many new licenses, including Batman and Guardians of the Galaxy, with the choose-your-own-adventure style apparently not taking off despite the more widespread successes that were the first seasons of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.
As part of the company's response to a lawsuit filed by the former CEO and co-founder of Telltale Games, Kevin Bruner, back in June, it was mentioned that the studio was "under financial strain," which certainly ties into the decision to cease operations now.
Although they truly hit it out of the park with a few of their releases, that never translated to enough staying power with the average gamer for the company to achieve great financial success. However, nobody can deny that Telltale had an impact on the industry as a whole by making games in a way that nobody else was doing at the time.
If there are any new developments on the company's projects that we have covered here on Dead Entertainment, we will be sure to keep you posted. Otherwise, this is sadly the last we'll be hearing from Telltale and we wish the best to those who have lost their jobs and will be moving on to new endeavors.
Thanks for all the memories and may Clementine continue to live on like the survivor we watched (and helped) her grow up to become.