Massive Layoffs at Telltale Games

Batou667

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Damn, bugger, crap. I don't really keep abreast of dev blogs or the like these days so this legitimately came out of the blue for me. I just started Season 3, raised an eyebrow about the fact Season 4 was being released already (wow, that's a quick turn around, Telltale are really on a roll here!) - and it's all gone to hell. Bugger.

The fact that I heard about Wolf Among Us 2 for the first time in the same sentence that confirms it being canned is a doubly painful fact.

Oh well, I'll take consolation in the fact that I still have several episodes of TWD to play, and also the second season of Minecraft Story Mode to start. It blows my mind that Telltale wasn't turning a profit despite its cheap and cheerful engine and digital first model, though. As Abomination mentioned, that sounds like gross negligence if not outright fraud.
 

Callate

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Dalisclock said:
Xsjadoblayde said:
This is quite sad to hear. Am going to miss Clem, wolfy pig dude and the borderlands bunch. But if the working conditions and bad management are what they are, perhaps it's for the best in the interests of the long-term health of those employees. They really should unionise within this industry, as should any work force being pushed beyond their limits. Though if they're US based, that wouldn't help matters.
I know this is a stupid question and at risk of derailing the thread: How it Unpaid Overtime(Crunch in particular) not in violation of labor laws? Do the game industry employees just sign shitty ass contracts that waives their right to getting paid extra for anything over 40 hours a week? Considering how prevlent this seems to be in the industry I can only imagine there's some kind of standardized dodge that allows this shit to continue across the industry without the DOL looking into it.
Often there's a distinction between "wage" employees (paid x/hour) and "salaried" employees (paid x/term, usually per year).

Sometimes "salaried" positions are white-collar and/or creative, expected to produce particular results rather than move a certain number of customers or units per hour, and their work is not well measured in terms of hourly productivity.

Sometimes salaried positions end up getting really brutally exploited, which is part of why people working in game development are murmuring about forming a union right now.

[link]https://www.accountingtools.com/articles/what-is-the-difference-between-salary-and-wages.html[/link]
[link]https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/12/11/whats-better-an-annual-salary-or-an-hourly-wage/#6b3119d768e0[/link]
 

The Lunatic

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A shitty company which openly practiced sexism, screwed people with shitty contracts, hired people not even a week before they closed the studio and so on is now a relic of the past?

I can't help but see this as a good thing overall.

Whilst it's unfortunate that they're taking down some good series whilst they're at it, it's more a case of good content in the hands of terrible people.
 

Saelune

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TheVampwizimp said:
Damn, I had just heard about season 2 of The Wolf Among Us and now it's gone. Big bummer there.
Saelune said:
Oh no! But they made... *looks up every game they made* ...Nevermind. Nothing of value was lost.
Right, just a couple hundred people's jobs, nothing that matters.
Maybe they should have done a better job? I don't outright want anyone to be out of a job, but I am not going to pretend people should keep jobs they are bad at.


Besides, Ubisoft is already headhunting them.


Hell, I lost my job at Gamestop basically cause Star Wars Battlefront did poorly. I don't blame the people not buying it though, I blame DICE, EA and Gamestop for betting too much on DICE and EA.
 

Hawki

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Saelune said:
Maybe they should have done a better job?
Define "better job." Because every Telltale game since Walking Dead has had mostly positive reviews.

The people who needed to do a better job are likely the ones who set the production schedules, not the ones who carried out development.
 

Sassafrass

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[tweet t=https://twitter.com/telltalegames/status/1044370808657915905]

Not sure if the embed worked, but some hopeful news coming out of Telltale.
 
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Saelune said:
TheVampwizimp said:
Damn, I had just heard about season 2 of The Wolf Among Us and now it's gone. Big bummer there.
Saelune said:
Oh no! But they made... *looks up every game they made* ...Nevermind. Nothing of value was lost.
Right, just a couple hundred people's jobs, nothing that matters.
Maybe they should have done a better job? I don't outright want anyone to be out of a job, but I am not going to pretend people should keep jobs they are bad at.
Who was bad? The devs, or the execs with their irresponsible spending, constant crunch times that some employees weren't even compensated for and hiring new people a day before the company went bankrupt?
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Callate said:
Dalisclock said:
Xsjadoblayde said:
This is quite sad to hear. Am going to miss Clem, wolfy pig dude and the borderlands bunch. But if the working conditions and bad management are what they are, perhaps it's for the best in the interests of the long-term health of those employees. They really should unionise within this industry, as should any work force being pushed beyond their limits. Though if they're US based, that wouldn't help matters.
I know this is a stupid question and at risk of derailing the thread: How it Unpaid Overtime(Crunch in particular) not in violation of labor laws? Do the game industry employees just sign shitty ass contracts that waives their right to getting paid extra for anything over 40 hours a week? Considering how prevlent this seems to be in the industry I can only imagine there's some kind of standardized dodge that allows this shit to continue across the industry without the DOL looking into it.
Often there's a distinction between "wage" employees (paid x/hour) and "salaried" employees (paid x/term, usually per year).

Sometimes "salaried" positions are white-collar and/or creative, expected to produce particular results rather than move a certain number of customers or units per hour, and their work is not well measured in terms of hourly productivity.

Sometimes salaried positions end up getting really brutally exploited, which is part of why people working in game development are murmuring about forming a union right now.

[link]https://www.accountingtools.com/articles/what-is-the-difference-between-salary-and-wages.html[/link]
[link]https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2017/12/11/whats-better-an-annual-salary-or-an-hourly-wage/#6b3119d768e0[/link]
And then there's straight up wage theft, which now has to be prosecuted individually instead of with class action arbitration, and that a bankrupt company isn't obligated to pay out regardless.

After all, these folks lost their already lost their severance.
 

tippy2k2

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Sassafrass said:
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.
https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/skybound-telltale-the-walking-dead-1202971245/

YAY!!!!!!
 

Burnhardt

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Abomination said:
What kind of mismanagement was going on if they were not able to make any money?

The game engine was bare bones and used multiple times across almost all of their products. Sure they weren't selling for AAA prices but the cost of production was no where near as high as AAA.

Something is fucky, and I get the feeling the balance sheets are worth looking at.
Game of Thrones. Batman. Guardians of the Galaxy. Those are some AAA licenses and can't have been cheap to acquire.

It also doesn't really help that, because of their game engine, if you've played one Telltale game you've essentially played them all.
 

Mcgeezaks

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Hawki said:
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.
Are you sure? Because GoTG and GoT didn't seem to do that hot considering how huge those franchises are.
 

Hawki

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BabyfartsMcgeezaks said:
Are you sure? Because GoTG and GoT didn't seem to do that hot considering how huge those franchises are.
Sure that people wanted them, or sure that they're ripe for story-based games?

If the latter, I stand by it. If the former, perhaps not, though I'm surprised. As you yourself point out, both those franchises are 'hot,' so it should stand to reason that there's an in-built audience for them.
 

Pyrian

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"Ooo, a Guardians of the Galaxy game? Sweet! Wait... By Tell Tale? Nevermind."

- Actual thought process at the time
 

Abomination

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Burnhardt said:
Abomination said:
What kind of mismanagement was going on if they were not able to make any money?

The game engine was bare bones and used multiple times across almost all of their products. Sure they weren't selling for AAA prices but the cost of production was no where near as high as AAA.

Something is fucky, and I get the feeling the balance sheets are worth looking at.
Game of Thrones. Batman. Guardians of the Galaxy. Those are some AAA licenses and can't have been cheap to acquire.

It also doesn't really help that, because of their game engine, if you've played one Telltale game you've essentially played them all.
I do not know the particulars of the licencing. Some could have been royalty based, others potentially lump sums. Given the crazy success of the first Walking Dead game one would think Telltale would have negotiation clout.

What's more, that is - again - a decision by the producers, and it falls decidedly under fund management.

The game engine was not a point in their favour for sales, but it was for low cost of production.
 

jademunky

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Marik2 said:
erttheking said:
No Wolf Among Us season 2?

Fuck.
Just read the comics.
The comics are kinda weird and have the author going off on jarring tangents on his own political views. Best just play the first game and assume the story is closed.
 

Marik2

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jademunky said:
Marik2 said:
erttheking said:
No Wolf Among Us season 2?

Fuck.
Just read the comics.
The comics are kinda weird and have the author going off on jarring tangents on his own political views. Best just play the first game and assume the story is closed.
I know the guy has a hard on for Israel and WWII Murica, but it's still decent. It somewhat jumped the shark after the battle with the empire, but it was still a fun ride for me.
 

jademunky

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Marik2 said:
jademunky said:
Marik2 said:
erttheking said:
No Wolf Among Us season 2?

Fuck.
Just read the comics.
The comics are kinda weird and have the author going off on jarring tangents on his own political views. Best just play the first game and assume the story is closed.
I know the guy has a hard on for Israel and WWII Murica, but it's still decent. It somewhat jumped the shark after the battle with the empire, but it was still a fun ride for me.
I just found so many of the characters I grew attached to in the game came to bad ends or became enormous dickwads. Maybe if I had read the comics first.