Walking Dead Creator's Company Knew Telltale Was Struggling But Was Still Surprised When It All Fell Apart
"We knew some of the challenges Telltale was facing, but when the news hits so suddenly everyone was taken off guard."
Skybound Entertainment, the media company founded by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman that oversees the franchise, knew that Telltale Games was in trouble before it suffered massive layoffs. But, according to Skybound Interactive president Dan Murray, Telltale's announcement of its "majority studio closure" still took Skybound by surprise.
He told Variety that while Skybound was obviously in business with Telltale, the gaming company operated with a degree of independence that apparently meant that Skybound didn't know precisely how dire the situation was.
"We are plugged in with our partners, but these are businesses being run and we try not to control their business," Murray said. "We knew some of the challenges Telltale was facing, but when the news hits so suddenly everyone was taken off guard."
Skybound recently struck a deal with Telltale to help finish Episodes 3 and 4 of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Skybound intends to hire some of the developers who worked on the franchise to see it through to completion, but not everyone may come back given they had to quickly to try find other work. Game development is difficult, Murray said.
"It's hard making games," Murray said. "Whenever something like this comes up, our intention is to try and do the right thing, not just by the brand, but by the fans. This was our chance to do both. It's also our intention to make sure to do right by the people we were working with. This is a business that is made by people, and when things like this happen there is a human cost. We are trying to do what we can to work with the original staff and provide a soft landing."
Murray cautioned that there are "a lot of moving parts" in its deal with Telltale to finish The Walking Dead. He declined to share specifics, but stressed that Skybound intends to "do right" by the developers.
The specifics of how and where the The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be finished remain unclear. But Murray said Skybound is unlikely to create an internal development team, though this has been discussed, he acknowledged.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season premiered in August, with the second episode arriving just days after the massive layoffs at Telltale. Skybound will now apparently help finish Episodes 3 and 4, but it remains to be seen when they will be released. Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.
For more on the Telltale Games situation, check out GameSpot's timeline of the key events.
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