Telltale Announces "Majority Studio Closure;" Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, And Other Series' Fate Unknown

Following significant layoffs last November, Telltale has again dramatically reduced its staff.

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Now Playing: Walking Dead Dev Telltale Anounces "Majority Studio Closure;" Series' Fate Unknown - GS News Update

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Update: Telltale has issued a statement in which it confirms fears that the studio is at least partially shutting down. It does not address the specific fate of its games, only saying more details will be shared in the coming weeks. It reaffirms that 25 people remain with the studio for the time being, but it's unclear how long they will be employed. The full statement follows.

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.

In a tweet clarifying the statement, Hawley says the 25 people will continue for the "foreseeable" future; this isn't a complete shutdown, at least at this point. We'll report back as we learn more.

Original Story: Telltale Games, the studio behind several acclaimed episodic adventure games based on a range of popular licenses, including The Walking Dead and Batman, has been hit with another huge wave of layoffs. News of the layoffs emerged via social media as former developers announced they were no longer employed at the company.

It is currently unclear if Telltale has shut down completely or will remain operational with a reduced workforce, but it appears a significant number of developers have been let go from the company. Telltale itself has yet to publicly comment on the layoffs. GameSpot has reached out to the studio and will report back with a response.

According to a report by Gamasutra, Telltale has released all but 25 employees (out of about 250), who will remain at the company to finish the remaining episodes of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. The outlet also reports that all of the studio's other projects, such as the second season of The Wolf Among Us, have been canceled.

Kevin Bruner, a co-founder and former CEO of Telltale (who sued the company earlier this year after being forced out), has published a blog post commenting on the news. "Today, 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."

This isn't the first massive wave of layoffs to hit the company. In November 2017, Telltale laid off 25% of its workforce, which then amounted to 90 people. According to a press release the company shared following that news, this reduction was done in order to make the studio "more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences with an emphasis on high quality in the years ahead."

Telltale announced a number of projects in July 2017, including the aforementioned Wolf Among Us 2. That was originally planned for release in 2018 but was eventually delayed to 2019 following the November layoffs. The studio had also announced it was developing a game based on Stranger Things, but it appears those projects have now been shelved.

News of these layoffs comes shortly before the release of the second episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which is scheduled to launch for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on September 25. Two additional episodes are still planned for the series. We don't yet know what this news means for its previously announced release schedule; the same is true of the games it's responsible for publishing, such as Stranded Deep, which it just yesterday announced would launch for PS4 and Xbox One in October.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for Vodoo
Vodoo

I think a lot of people with XBL and PS+ saw that they would eventually get a whole season free as a monthly game. These were hardly must have games, so most people would just wait it out.

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Berrlett

MS not buying them ?

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darksparda4

This is incredibly sad. Tales from the borderlands and the walking dead are a couple of my favorite games. I just can't help but to think spending more time polishing the games and getting rid of the dead spots when moving around would've made them much more popular.

Unfortunately games like Life is Strange took this approach where even though it's basically the same type of game it's much more enjoyable since there's a point to exploration and you can count on the game remaining smooth and steady.

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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?

Avatar image for Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

Sad deal.

Avatar image for CeltaVigo
CeltaVigo

So its being reported that many of the released employees are stating that the remaining employees are only working on the Minecraft game that's being released in conjunction with Netflix. Apparently, none of those employees are working on the last 2 episodes of the Walking Dead. I wonder what that means for the people that bought the Season Pass. Also, the people who purchased the first two episodes, what does it mean for them seeing as they purchased something with the notion that there would be a conclusion to the season at some point...I foresee many lawsuits.

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godfather830

They kept ignoring feedback, so that's not surprising. I think their games misleadingly suggested that player choice matters, when it clearly didn't.

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breathnac

Let's all acknowledge though that there story and dialogue writers were genius....They should have no trouble getting a job

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Good_Coop89

I think in more recent times, the adventure game market has moved back to favoring more puzzle-focused games, rather than Telltale's more lightweight choose-your-own-adventure style.

I wish all the former staff well. Hopefully we'll see some smaller studios born out of this creating their own brand new IPs, rather than relying on licenses. Sad news anyway.

Listening to The Wolf Among Us intro music will now have an extra layer of sadness!

Avatar image for Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@good_coop89: That's because other devs know in a video game you need gameplay to go with your story. In adventure games, puzzles are that gameplay.

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James_xeno

"Telltale has released all but 25 employees (out of about 250)"

Yeah, sadly they are clearly done. That's likely all their dev staff..

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Professor_Megaman

You've got to have very deep pockets if you want to continue to exist in today's mainstream "graphics-over-gameplay" gaming market.

Things have gotten so bad that in twenty years practically all the third-party developers will either fold or be absorbed by other companies. Either way, the sharp decline of quality and diversity continues.

Avatar image for breathnac
breathnac

@professor_megaman: Telltale games were never about gameplay and hardly about graphics....they were story games very niche market

Avatar image for professor_megaman
Professor_Megaman

@breathnac: In an industry where you either go big or go under. Says a lot, doesn't it? That things have gotten so bloated that niche markets can't survive despite the luxury of licensed game marquee value and comparably lower production costs.

Avatar image for mi_hung_lo
Mi_Hung_Lo

Bad business 101: 250 ppl working at an indie studio, paying a lot of money for licenses while selling games at $20, fighting a lawsuit against a founder of the company, episodic releases, same concept for every game, and no direction for future titles. Those developers should have left when the writing was on the wall.

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timothySS10

@mi_hung_lo: there was also a issue with the engine they had used for many of their games, it was a VERY simple engine, and old even for 360 standards. i don't even think it had a proper physics engine for it mostly. they tryed to move to a another engine but it proved very costly after their rapid expiation because of the lack experience with a real engine, and some bad hires they kept to long apparently. they failed to move forward and grow as a company for new hardware, sad, but with each console gen, (def the n64/ps1 gen) we see many studio not be able to make the change and stay relevant in the industry as things keep moving forward. it that way with allot of stuff not just games. im personally still surprised that rare is still breathing =/

Avatar image for USDevilDog
USDevilDog

There were warning signs in their rapid expansion a few years back; they at one point had 4 projects concurrently in the pipeline. Nevertheless, it's still terrible to hear. And, it's easy to shoot them down now, but Telltale made some memorable games like A Wolf Among Us, Tales From the Borderlands, and the first season of The Walking Dead. I will remember them.

Avatar image for icelandichossi
IcelandicHossi

good, never liked their fake games. it was all a gimmick

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@icelandichossi: So: since you didn't like their games, they deserve to be left unemployed.
Either you are a small and sad person, or you have serious attention seeking issues. In either case: you get a report and will be forgotten withing the next minute.
So yeah... congratulations on the achievement.

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blindbsnake

@icelandichossi: The only thing fake in here is your intelligence...

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IcelandicHossi

@blindbsnake: lol Telltale is dead so I win snake, now go get old from clone aids

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blindbsnake

@icelandichossi: Telltale will never die (at least their games). So you did not win, but I agree that some of us lose. But... If you didn't like their games, if you called them "fake games", then you don´t have the ability to fully understand what was lost.

I´ll just admit that in the last years their quality has decreased.

Avatar image for simonspearman86
simonspearman86

I believe part of the problem was the episodic content. A lot of people don't want to wait months between chapters of a game and by the time the game is complete, it was already long forgotten.

This has not stopped me purchasing every Telltale game available on the Xbox store as I am usually more than happy to wait. The one time I jump in early it looks like i'm getting burned. I hope they complete the Walking Dead but I cant see it. I would even take the final 2 episodes shrunk down into a comic book style with selections just to see the ending at this point.

I did however manage to get a refund from Microsoft. If they finish the game, i'll buy it again.

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ccgod

@simonspearman86: I agree most of their sales are probably once the whole thing is out.

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Thanatos2k

>Telltale is closing

"We'll remember that...."

Making the same game over and over (which is barely a game) and just slapping different IP curtains over the top hoping no one will notice is going to catch up to you.

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SyntaxKT

@Thanatos2k: agreed. People weren't really missing out on a ton watching the games on youtube. I feel like I could get way more satisfaction playing a good visual novel game over anything TT has made because they were so IMO well written, like the nonary games and danganronpa.

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PETERAKO

They spread themselves too thin and did not evolve. Also, I wonder what people who bought the season pass will do now.

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Tamarisk_green

Here's an update with proven facts quoted.

https://youtu.be/laPhvAZ_2m4

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OrgeLambart

It's a shame, I loved Telltale games, tremendous story driven games, although it was pretty obvious, they had some tremendous story driven games, but those license fee's combined with a 20 dollar price point,, was likely not sustainable long term.. Especially when the style of game never changed and they never caught magic a second time after Season 1 of the Walking Dead..

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Simulator_Shock

@OrgeLambart: Walking Dead season 2 was so rushed and half-assed both in terms of plot and gameplay compared to season 1, and season 3 just felt like a filler game, to which it pretty much was just filler.

Avatar image for OrgeLambart
OrgeLambart

@Simulator_Shock: The Walking dead saw a tremendous drop off from the first game, but the other games Telltale were putting out there were still pretty good.. Borderlands was exceptional, Game of Thrones was great and felt like it fit right in with the television show. Batman was another bright spot..

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sakaiXx

Microsoft game pass or PS Now would be a great fit for the studio

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bouchart

They must've spent a small fortune buying licensing rights, and only a couple of their games were critically acclaimed. Many of those games felt the same after a while.

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Daian

I feel bad for those people that lost their jobs, they made some great story heavy games.

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DARREN636

been coming for 3 years

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Chizaqui

I mean, the writing was on the wall... but this still sucks. I hope they'll still get The Wolf Among Us 2 out....

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hussin005

@Chizaqui:

They won't, they won't even get the rest of the final season of the walking dead out. i'm reading they cancelled the last two episodes.

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Chizaqui

@hussin005: I guess we can hope for the next best thing, anyone but EA acquires the IP.

Avatar image for OrgeLambart
OrgeLambart

@hussin005: they never officially announced the last two episodes won't release,, they kept 25 employees to finish up their commitments,, of which the remaining 2 episodes of The Walking Dead would fall into the Commitments they have left..

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ZmanBarzel

@OrgeLambart: But a deal with Netflix to bring “Minecraft Story Mode” to the service would take precedence since it’s much, much more lucrative.

Avatar image for ValedictorianXD
ValedictorianXD

There is no reason why they should have so many people at that studio right now. Should have 30-50 tops. This is how you destroy a company from within. Same shit happened with Rome. Expand too quickly and you will lose out in the end. Maybe some wise indie devs will learn from this in the future.

Avatar image for sakaixx
sakaiXx

@ValedictorianXD: they do so many franchise. Make sense to have 30-50 for each team.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@sakaixx: that's the problem. they never should have had 5+ projects going on at the same time! perhaps 2 to 3 at most with 25 people per project. what killed the company was the assembly line mentality to making games -- everything felt rushed and unpolished. the team never had time to breath and improve the mechanics of the games, nor the graphics engine. they were paying a fortune for all the lisenses they acquired and couldn't keep up with the workload they setup for themselves. it was clear people were fatigued with telltale's output years ago and yet they still continued to crank them out hoping for the best.

Avatar image for CyberEarth
CyberEarth

The question is... what's going to happen when they go *poof* since they are a digital distribution platform? Can you still purchase them? Will they be yanked from stores? Will licenses expire?

Avatar image for gargar
gargar

They should have stayed small. 250 workers for an indie developer?

They started with small point and click games like Bone and Sam and Max, why not stay there? You could have take Monkey Island all the classics and make some new stuff for a genre that strive for more quality titles.

Avatar image for qx0d
qx0d

That sucks. I really liked The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. They are great games. Telltale is a great brand and they make great games. I honestly can't believe some people here are bashing their gameplay and engine. I played their games and I never noticed a problem. The games were good and that's all that mattered to me.

I wanted to see The Wolf Among Us 2. Sad news. I honestly don't know the true reason for the lack of sales, because they are great games.

Avatar image for Zorlac
Zorlac

@qx0d:

I COMPLETELY love the games, but to say the engine didn't have issues is simply a lie. There is some sort of stuttering or incredible fps drop in almost every game they put out.

Avatar image for Blk_Mage_Ctype
Blk_Mage_Ctype

That's what happens when you do nothing to solve a problem you were already aware of and just hope that it somehow fixes itself. Tell Tale has known for over a year now that the licenses they were buying to make games for popular series were costing them more than they were earning them, yet they just kept on buying licenses. Tell Tale should have taken a step back and attempted to revive one of their own classic series like Sam & Max (albeit spiritually if necessary) maybe even rolling the dice with a new IP, but instead they just kept on trying to make money off of other people's creations in hopes that the popularity of said series would be enough to overcome their own mediocre, cliche-riddled, recycled ad-nauseam, melodramatic storytelling.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

@Blk_Mage_Ctype: The Ex Telltale Staff Will Remember That...

Avatar image for WarGreymon77
WarGreymon77

Damn it. I was hoping for a season 3 of the Batman series soon.