Massive Layoffs at Telltale Games

Burnouts3s3

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https://nichegamer.com/2018/09/21/report-telltale-games-hit-with-big-layoffs-possibly-shutting-down/

We have learned that Telltale Games have bit hit with large layoffs, and that this may be the end of the developer.

The company issued the following statement:

Today, Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges. A majority of the company?s employees were dismissed earlier this morning, with a small group of 25 employees staying on to fulfill the company?s obligations to its board and partners. CEO Pete Hawley issued the following statement:

?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.?

Telltale will issue further comments regarding its product portfolio in the coming weeks.

The company woes all of this and last year. Firstly they had laid off nearly 25% of their workforce in 2017? affecting 90 employees. In March of this year the company was then hit by accusations of ?years of a culture that promoted constant overwork, toxic management, and creative stagnation.?

Telltale Games would go on to be sued by its co-founder Kevin Bruner in June. While he was on the board of directors, the company were ?contractually obligated to provide him informational support as he prepared to sell his holdings in common and preferred stock,? and allegedly failed to do so. He then claims he was voted out of the board by members who would should not have had enough stock do so.

The claim now is that the company has hit bankruptcy. Freelance journalist Joe Parlock claims that sources told him Telltale ?almost didn?t get through Spring 2018. The Netflix deal fell apart, which was supposed to save it.? He goes on to say ?only Minecraft: Story Mode and 7 Days to Die were making a profit. The rest was investor money and the netflix deal, which dried up.?

Basically, only the first season of The Walking Dead made money. Everything between that and Minecraft was a financial failure ? Wolf, everything post-Season 1 of TWD, Borderlands, Game of Thrones. All failures.
~ @joeparlock, September 21st 2018

The Batman Telltale games are alleged to have been ?the worst commercial failures? for the company.

Staff were allegedly only told ?today?, and were not offered severance pay. With allegedly only a few members left, the claim made by Parlock and other outlets is that The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series ? The Final Season will still be finished. All other projects, such as The Wolf Among Us: Season 2, Game of Thrones: Season 2, and an unnamed Stranger Things game are all cancelled.

Games published under Telltale Games Publishing are said to also be affected, with console versions of Stranded Deep effectively without a publisher.

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series ? The Final Season will drop Episode 2 on September 25th, Episode 3 on November 6th, and Episode 4 on December 4th, on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One. Episode 1 is currently out.
This news makes me sad, but I was half expecting this.

I will admit a bias as I have purchased and enjoyed games from Telltale in the past such as the 1st Season of the Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands.

HOWEVER,

I also saw reports of a hostile and cruel work environment that left many of its employees succumb to crunch and forced to churn out product after product.

http://archive.is/modCn

Everything after TWD Season 1 (Save Minecraft: Story Mode) was a financial loss.

https://twitter.com/joeparlock/status/1043227346692726784

I hope the employees of Telltale find different work and I wish them the best. They have put their lives and their lifestyles on the line to put out products and in the end, they were not rewarded.
 

tippy2k2

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That sucks :(

While some of have more miss than hit (Looking at you Game of Thrones...), I have enjoyed every Telltale game I have played and is a series I always look forward to seeing new stuff out of. Enemy Within is an absolutely wonderful game, Walking Dead in general are pretty solid (granted, Season 1 is still the best but it would be virtually impossible for that to be matched), and Tales from the Borderlands was hilarious.

I really hope Season 4 gets the finish it deserves because I'd hate for the series to go down on a sour note.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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What did they expect? Glorified FanFiction only gets you so far in the gaming industry. The only series ever worth playing was Strong Bad's Cool Game 4 Attractive People, and they just stopped making them.
 

Sassafrass

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tippy2k2 said:
I really hope Season 4 gets the finish it deserves because I'd hate for the series to go down on a sour note.
#

It's not, from what I'm hearing. They've shelved it so they can make Minecraft SM work on Netflix, which was a part of the deal they made with Netflix to also make a Stranger Things game. Clem's story is just going to be left unfinished and unfulfilled. :(

But yeah, this blows major chunks. But it feels like this was a long time coming, between the workplace stories and the major company restructure before TWD:FS was announced, as well as the metric fuckton of shit they took on. I really hope that they can somehow, someway, find someone to finish of Clem's story and maybe give us a follow up to TWaU but for now, I hope everyone at Telltale lands safely in new jobs soon.
 

tippy2k2

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Sassafrass said:
tippy2k2 said:
I really hope Season 4 gets the finish it deserves because I'd hate for the series to go down on a sour note.
#

It's not, from what I'm hearing. They've shelved it so they can make Minecraft SM work on Netflix, which was a part of the deal they made with Netflix to also make a Stranger Things game. Clem's story is just going to be left unfinished and unfulfilled. :(

But yeah, this blows major chunks. But it feels like this was a long time coming, between the workplace stories and the major company restructure before TWD:FS was announced, as well as the metric fuckton of shit they took on. I really hope that they can somehow, someway, find someone to finish of Clem's story and maybe give us a follow up to TWaU but for now, I hope everyone at Telltale lands safely in new jobs soon.

I really really really really really really hope you're wrong...

While Season 3 stumbled a bit, I don't think it's nearly as bad as people seem to make it out to be. Clem deserves an ending damn it! :,(
 

Specter Von Baren

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Hhm... On the one hand I have this selfish feeling of being glad that people won't glorify all the "choices" you get in their games when they actually did diddly squat, but that's a lot of people losing their jobs, so it's not something I can be happy about.
 

Sassafrass

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tippy2k2 said:

I really really really really really really hope you're wrong...

While Season 3 stumbled a bit, I don't think it's nearly as bad as people seem to make it out to be. Clem deserves an ending damn it! :,(
Well since posting that, I've also heard that episode 2 might be coming out but 3 and 4 are cancelled as of now. It's just gonna be a 'wait and see' situation and see if the remaining people at Telltale want to shed more light on the entire situation.
 

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If they lost money on every game they made, why did they keep pumping out games for popular franchises that no one wanted in the first place? Like, did anyone really want a telltale game about Game of Thrones and Guardians of the galaxy? Or MINECRAFT?
 

Aiddon_v1legacy

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Well, that sucks. I was never big into them, but I always appreciated them making narrative-focused titles and keep the adventure genre alive. Though as the article above says, it might have been due to them expanding too rapidly and engaging in toxic practices. Such a shame
 

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Unfortunate that their best games seem to also be the biggest commercial failures.

Tales from the Borderlands, Wolf Among Us, and Batman were way better than Minecraft Story Mode, which is frankly one of the worst cash-ins I've ever seen (and I actually used to play and enjoy minecraft back in the day).

Maybe people would have gotten less sick of the Telltale formula if Telltale hadn't started releasing multiple games per year all with the same exact structure and glaring flaws. Not every franchise needed a telltale tie in, but Telltale sure seemed to be trying to shoehorn their story approach into as many products as they possibly could.
 

Steve the Pocket

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It's going to be interesting to see what happens to the distribution rights to their games now. We might be looking at a THQ scenario, except it might end up more like Malcolm in the Middle given that every single one is a licensed tie-in. The best possible outcome might be for each series to get bought out by whoever owns the IP in the first place.
 

sXeth

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Sad news of course, but not entirely surprising.

They always kind of struck me as the modern day Guitar Hero, back when they were trying to pump out Guitar Hero for every band they could manage to license. Just kind of constantly trying to struggle to keep a niche product relevant by grabbing onto other popular IPs.

Although I'm surprised 7 Days to Die is profitable. Then again last I heard 7 Days to Die was down to being updated by one guy as his not actual regular job at this point, so not a big budget drain
 

RaikuFA

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It seems Blizzard and Ubisoft sre gonna try and pick up as much talent as possible. Also I hope we get more Sam and Max. I just loved those games. You think dontnod should finish up the final season?
 

Dalisclock

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I was reading that earlier tonight. Yeah, that sucks. On one hand, I haven't played a TellTale game since Tales From the Borderlands(which I enjoyed a lot more then I really should have), but I was kind of looking forward to the final season of Walking Dead(even though I skipped over New Frontier). Now it looks like Clems story is just gonna be left hanging. She'll be okay....right? RIGHT?

I'm also a bit sad that the Wolf Among Us won't be getting a season 2 now but there's like 20 something volumes of Fables graphic novels to help fill that loss, and Season 2 would have to walk that line between presenting new stories while not retconning the story from the comics(which it would be a prequel to).

Somehow I missed the news about all the layoffs, people leaving and massive mismanagement(and perpetual Crunch time) until I was directed to it tonight. Man....It did explain why I kind of started losing interest in the games after a certain point. Some of the early founders went to found Campo Santo which made Firewatch and another went to help make OxenFree, both games I really liked and now I have a better idea why those games resonated with me.

I am sad that the studio that gave Sam and Max the sendoff it deserved(after Lucasarts decided Adventure Games were stupid games for losers since they didn't print money like Star Wars did), as well as essentially resurrected Adventure games in general, is on it's deathbed. It looks like mistakes were made, poor decisions in the wake of fame and it's finally caught up with them. The talented people were driven out or left, too much was spent licensing properties instead of improving the games they were working on, apparently the CEO Bruner was a bit of a Jackass Prima Donna who wanted to micromanage things all the time, etc. And now Telltale is joining Lucasarts in the game studio graveyard.

RIP Telltale.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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I really like The Wolf Among Us and I was looking forward to Season 2, but I am not really surprised by this. Think about it. These guys are essentially making interactive comic books at the cost of making a video game. Kind of obvious that such a business model would be unsustainable in the long run. Hopefully the news of this will turn other developers away from episodic model. I have a feeling that most gamers don't appreciate it.
 

Hawki

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BabyfartsMcgeezaks said:
Like, did anyone really want a telltale game about Game of Thrones and Guardians of the galaxy? Or MINECRAFT?
Um, yes?

Minecraft, sure, but GoT and GotG are ripe settings for story-based games.

RaikuFA said:
It seems Blizzard and Ubisoft sre gonna try and pick up as much talent as possible.
Source?

Adam Jensen said:
These guys are essentially making interactive comic books at the cost of making a video game.
And that's wrong because...?

Kind of obvious that such a business model would be unsustainable in the long run.
Um, not really.

Comics survive on episodic releases. So does TV. Why shouldn't games.

Hopefully the news of this will turn other developers away from episodic model. I have a feeling that most gamers don't appreciate it.
Don't see anything wrong with the model inherently so...
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Hawki said:
And that's wrong because...?
Because it's more expensive and more risky. It makes people less likely to buy the next episode. People forget or they lose interest or they have other things to do so they postpone purchasing the next episode of the game. And even just postponing it long enough can have devastating consequences for developers. There are many reasons why episodic business model isn't a good one in the gaming industry.

Hawki said:
Comics survive on episodic releases. So does TV. Why shouldn't games.
I'm not saying that they shouldn't. I'm saying that I doubt that they can. And this latest development kinda proves that point. Especially considering the fact that it's the most famous developer of episodic games.
 

Specter Von Baren

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Hawki said:
And that's wrong because...?
Cost. It most likely cost more to make these games than they could reasonably charge for the actual content you got out of them. You can't charge 40$-60$ for what are kinetic visual novels but the voice acting, modeling etc. required to make so many of these is too high and apparently in order to pump so many of these out they went really hard on the people putting these games together.
 

laggyteabag

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I literally just bought the TWD The Final Season yesterday

The thing that is bugging me when looking at all the info is the complete lack of clarity, when it comes to what is happening to the rest of the series.

Half of the reports are saying that the 25 staff members are then to finish it off, up to Episode 4, and the other half of the reports are saying that Episode 2 will be the last one, the series wont get finished, and the staff are there for the Netflix Minecraft deal.

I get that it is all anonymous sources and speculation, but I would really like some sort of clarity about what is going on with the thing that I just paid for.

Ultimately though, this sucks. I've enjoyed all of Telltales games for one reason or another - mostly TWD Season 1 and 2, and Tales from the Borderlands, but all have been good in their own right. You could start to tell where your choices mattered, and where they didnt, but I had fun with them all, nonetheless.

Sucks to see 250 people get dropped without warning or compensation. Hopefully they land on their feet, soon.