SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (Heartland Newsfeed) — Telltale Games, the studio behind several highly-acclaimed episodic adventure games under a range of popular licenses, such as The Walking Dead and Batman, has been plagued with another wave of layoffs which took place over the weekend.
A report from Gamasutra reveals that Telltale laid off all but 25 employees of their 250-member staff, who will remain with the company to finish the remaining episodes of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. It was also noted of the cancellations of several other projects, including the second season of The Wolf Among Us. Employees were told to leave the building for 30 minutes following the announcement, while former employees had a three-hour window Monday to collect their belongings not picked up Friday
Co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner, who sued the company earlier this year after his ousting, wrote a statement commenting on the news.
“I’m mostly saddened for the people who are losing their jobs at a studio they love,” he wrote. “And I’m also saddened at the loss of a studio that green-lit crazy ideas that no one else would consider. I’m comforted a bit knowing there are now so many new talented people and studios creating games in the evolving narrative genre. While I look forward to those games and new developments, and continuing to contribute, I will always find ‘A Telltale Game’ to have been a unique offering.”
Bruner cited his departure as a result of his clash with the Telletale board of directors regarding the company’s future, with not much in details shared.
Financial uncertainty (and potential deception?)
CEO Pete Hawley noted that 2018 was an “incredibly difficult year” for Telltale, citing that despite their price in their releases, the games did not sell well enough to their expectations.
Hawley stated the company was in “really good shape” last December, rejecting any notion that it was in trouble. One month prior, Telltale laid off 25% of their workforce, or 90 employees. A press release on the layoffs in November 2017 stated that the reduction in labor would make the studio “more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences.”
This no longer seems to be the case, as delays and terrible sales have resulted in financial uncertainty and turmoil.
While the first season of The Walking Dead and the Minecraft games were successful, future releases were found to lose money. Batman: Enemy Within was reported as one of the worst performing games released by the publisher.
Several game series in limbo — or cancelled
The second season of The Wolf Among Us was set for release earlier this year, but was pushed back to 2019 as a result of the November 2017 layoffs. According to the studio, the project has been indefinitely halted.
A game series was also planned based on the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, but with their current situation, the project has been scrapped.
The second episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season launches on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC today, with two more episodes still being planned for the series.
Not much is determined regarding their previously announced release schedule, such as Stranded Deep, which the company is publishing for Australian game studio Beam Team Games, which is set for release for Playstation 4 and Xbox One in October. Following the announcement, Beam Team stated that they would do everything they can to release the game as scheduled.
Hawley stated that Telltale would announce specific details on its upcoming roadmap in the upcoming weeks.
So much for promises
Hawley pinpointed plans in a press conference when he first took over as CEO. From his statement:
Getting into 2019 we’ll have some new IP to talk about, some original IP, and new gameplay too. The next couple of years, we’ll be locking in the road map soon and we’re really excited about it. Just took a couple of months to dig into the business and fix a few problems based on the last five years, but I think we’re in really good shape.
People may be looking at us and thinking we’re in trouble, but in the end, we’re looking to the future. We’re super excited. I just think we had to take this time and opportunity to pause the production line, take some time out, re-establish who we are and what we’re great at, and take some more time and investment to get back to our best. I’ve spent some time collecting some pretty negative inbound, so I wanted an opportunity to talk about the position we’re in and how good we feel about the future.
Given the current situation and major layoffs in consecutive years, it appears not much will come from Telltale Games until they reveal their plans for the imminent future.
The future of Telltale
While not much in details was provided, Telltale confirmed the partial shutdown of the company, but did not explicitly address the fate of their games, citing more will come in the upcoming weeks. The 25 remaining staff members will remain employed, but it is not specified for how long.
We will try to keep you updated on this story.