Nine Months Ago, Telltale CEO Was Confident The Company Was In Good Shape

Telltale CEO Pete Hawley believed the studio was in "really good shape."

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Now Playing: Telltale Had "No Choice" In Layoffs, Might Still Finish The Walking Dead - GS News Update

In December 2017, Telltale Games CEO Pete Hawley said he believed the company was in "really good shape," rejecting the idea that the company was "in trouble." He also said he was eager to announce new things for 2019 including original IP and "new gameplay." Less than a year after making those statements, all of that it is now in question, it seems, as Telltale Games recently announced a "majority studio closure."

A December 2017 interview that Hawley, a former Zynga executive, gave to GamesBeat now reads in a different way in the wake of the sad and shocking news about Telltale

Here's what Hawley had to say about Telltale's 2019 plans in that older interview:

"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."

Hawley joined Telltale as its new CEO in September 2017. He came to Telltale from Zynga, where he was senior vice president and general manager since 2014. Before that, he worked at Lionhead on the Fable franchise with Peter Molyneux; he also worked at Sony and EA.

One of the first major decisions Hawley over at Telltale was a staff reduction. In November 2017, Telltale cut 25 percent of its workforce, which at the time was around 90 people. In the December 2017 interview, Hawley said the move was necessary to help prepare Telltale for the future.

"People may be looking at us and thinking we're in trouble, but in the end, we're looking to the future," he said at the time. "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."

Telltale has not completely closed down, as a group of around 25 people are staying on for the foreseeable future. However, the studio's other 225 people are out of work. On Monday, September 24, former employees will be allowed back into the building to collect their things.

Hawley said Telltale will be making further announcements about the future of the company, including updates on its in-development games, in the coming weeks. Given the significant staffing reduction, it seems extremely unlikely that all of the projects will come out. As for why Telltale is scaling back, Hawley said the studio's games failed to find a big enough audience.

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Avatar image for srfilk86
srfilk86

Tbh, I never liked their games. I found Season 1 of Walking Dead to be cheesy, boring, clunky, and buggy as hell.

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idakooz

It's too bad their games did not sale to expectations. They were fun, good. I just recently finished Batman: The Enemy Within and thought it as great. Just think this particular genre is too niche to be successful. In the beginning it was something kinda new so it did well but as time went on, if nothing is innovated, expect a decline. Even if you bring it new property licenses, it's still the same old formula from years ago.

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raizen3

Pretty damn sad about the Wolf Among Us season 2, to be honest, Season 1 was amazing, and I was expecting Batman season 3. Guess we will see what happens.

Avatar image for dujubear
dujubear

They made too many games, their fans/buyers are cannibalized. Most probably wont buy 2 Telltale games same time.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

and yet he still proceeded to have his studio work on 5 projects at once... yea, makes sense.

Avatar image for nurnberg
nurnberg

Struggling companies always spin things to make it look as positive as possible in their public relation communications. Also they always paint a very positive future for themselves. This is how corporate public relations is.

Avatar image for csward
csward

This article is almost all old information. So employees are allowed to get their things today. In my high school journalism classes this would be considered "not newsworthy" because who cares? It's really hard to tell in the last paragraph if they're quoting Hawley still from the 2017 interview or if this is the new info. I assume the first sentence is referring to right now, but it reads poorly.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

Life comes at you fast. I hate to hear that so many are losing their jobs. I hope they can get picked up at other studios.

Avatar image for Uncle_Rell
Uncle_Rell

Well if you think only in one direction(game developing wise) and focus in one format, your audience will lose interest soon or later.

TTG made two-game format, one that was a succus(what we know as TTG today point and drag). Sadly they overused it and it became boring for the audience (you and I the gamers).

Avatar image for heqteur
Heqteur

corporate language is corporate. A CEO will never say things are going bad and a company's closure isn't decided over night. It was mostly coming almost a year before closure and everything said in-between was pure corporate speech to not cannibalize sales and not lead employees to leave the company prematurely.

Avatar image for everson_rm
everson_rm

Tried Walking Dead and Game of thrones. Couldn't get into them. To me, it makes no difference.

But, this is sad, really. All thoose ppl losing their jobs. Hope other companies pick them up (clearly Telltale had talent in there).

Sorry for my bad english.

Avatar image for speed45823
speed45823

They've mentioned that they had internal conflict between their board of director. Looking at it, this douchebag joined them, the infamous John Riccitiello, formerly EA's CEO who encouraged and devised microtransactions and forcefully bought up several smaller game studios then promptly shutting them down while taking their IP. I'm guessing he has something to do with Telltale's failures.

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@speed45823: What the heck are you talking about? John Riccitiello NEVER joined Telltale Games nor had a thing to do with their demise. He went to work for Unity after he left EA and has been there ever since. You really need to work on your conspiracy theories as this one doesn't even have a shred of proof or relevance.

Avatar image for speed45823
speed45823

@dlCHIEF58: What about this then ?

https://www.ign.com/articles/2015/02/24/john-riccitiello-joins-telltale-games-board-of-directors

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58
dlCHIEF58

@speed45823: I stand corrected, the information I looked at previously made no mention of him joining the board. I was mistaken and man enough to admit when I am wrong.

Avatar image for speed45823
speed45823

@dlCHIEF58: Its cool. Although now we know that the main reason why Telltale went under is because some of the investors pulled out of their deals at the last second. Still, Telltale should've managed their resources better than to spend all their money on making too many games too fast. They went quantity over quality using the same outdated engine with little to no variation in gameplay or actual choice driven story as well as overworking their staffs till 3 AM almost everyday. In part, they're to blame for this. They set themselves up for failure.

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NSA_Protocol44

@speed45823: That Hawley dude came from Zynga, that must tell someting too.

Avatar image for zhangliao1
zhangliao1

@nsa_protocol44: and with Peter Molyneux

Avatar image for nsa_protocol44
NSA_Protocol44

@zhangliao1: Hahahha the poor guy.

Avatar image for manicm
manicm

The rot started for me ten years ago already when they changed their control scheme from point and click to point and drag - which was a true drag to excuse the pun. I never bought games from them ever since. Bioware made the same mistake for me with Dragon Age 3. When will game makers learn not to break what works well?

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Thanatos2k

He was clearly lying.

Avatar image for PETERAKO
PETERAKO

As if he was going to admit that things are dire

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DragonAtma

"We're in good shape! Sure, things are so dire that we had to fire fully one quarter of our employees, but things are in good shape! Also, we were always at war with Eastasia!"

Avatar image for seriousdave
SeriousDave

Geez, why are they in such a bad spot, weren't their games praised without end as the best thing ever or something along those lines?

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nurnberg

@seriousdave: These games all got poor reviews, poor sales and almost no hype at all. A developer needs hits to survive.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@seriousdave: From reviewers, perhaps. They're perfect games to review though - very short, little gameplay, no fail states, reviewer can get them done in a day with time for dinner. Even then, the facade has been crumbling:

https://www.metacritic.com/search/all/minecraft%20story%20mode/results

https://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/marvels-guardians-of-the-galaxy-the-telltale-series

https://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/game-of-thrones-a-telltale-games-series

Their recent stuff isn't being praised, because even reviewers got tired of the same formula.

Avatar image for Sevenizz
Sevenizz

@seriousdave: If you’ve played one, you’ve played them all.

Avatar image for spectral
spectral

@Sevenizz: Not really. That's pretty much saying if you've seen one movie, you've seen them all.

Avatar image for Sevenizz
Sevenizz

@spectral: I’m looking at it from a gameplay standpoint. In that regard, Telltale games are kinda similar.

Avatar image for spectral
spectral

@Sevenizz: But their games have never been about gameplay. Noone has ever gone to a telltale game for the gameplay, the draw is the story. Which evidently was not enough to sustain them.

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sakaiXx

@seriousdave: oversaturation

Online
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JackNief

@sakaixx: The Youtube Generation probably didn't help.