Telltale Games Lays Off Majority of Its Staff Following a Difficult Year
This past weekend was a bumpy road for Telltale Games. Reports began surfacing that the studio was shutting down for good, and while that isn't quite the case, the company's present state is now looking pretty dire. Following the reports, Telltale put out an official statement that announced they laid off a majority of their entire staff, leaving a skeleton crew of 25 employees to "[stay] on to fulfill the company's obligations to its board and partners." This is a stark change compared to their previous numbers of 250 employees. Many are now looking for work, and according to a report from the Verge gathered from insider sources, these employees were laid off without any severance pay. It's rough news, and a topic many on social media have taken to speaking out about following the layoffs.
Telltale CEO Pete Hawley issues a statement alongside the announcement: "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," the statement reads. "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." Taking his statement and the above one about the obligation to partners in mind, this kind of talk seems to imply the studio doesn't have much longer left to go. Telltale hasn't confirmed this though, and their recent partnership with Netflix further muddies the waters. Despite the immense cult success of certain titles like Tales From the Borderlands and The Wolf Among Us, sales have been less than impressive for Telltale.
You may be wondering, what does all of this mean for Telltale's ongoing and upcoming projects? Currently, the company is in the midst of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which sees the closure of Clementine's story. The first episode released last month, with the second episode only a day away now. Telltale also had many future projects planned, like The Wolf Among Us: Season Two, Game of Thrones: Season 2, and a Stranger Things game. They haven't issued an official statement regarding these games' fates, but unnamed sources speaking to Game Informer and USGamer have stated that TWD will be canceled and unfinished, with the remaining staff of 25 set to work on the Minecraft: Story Mode adaptation for Netflix. Another hint that this is the case comes from Clementine's voice actress, Melissa Hutchison, who took to Twitter following the bad news to speak to fans of the game. "I, unfortunately, like most of you, do not have the details on how this all came to be and I also do not know the fate of the final season of TWD," she stated. "To my knowledge, they will release Episode 2 and then that will be it. It hurts me that you, the fans, will not get to see Clem's journey through to the end." Further comments from her and other employees imply projects like The Wolf Among Us won't be continued.
Telltale has confirmed that they will provide further information regarding their product portfolio in the coming weeks, which likely includes what will happen to all of the above-mentioned games. Some may not take this news as too big a surprise, considering recent reports over the past few months about Telltale Games' toxic work environment. A lot of Telltale's work now appears to be dependent on the contract with Netflix, so we'll just have to see where that goes. The Walking Dead: The Final Season is available on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. The second episode, Suffer the Children, is due for release tomorrow on September 25th. In light of all this news, some players may be hesitant to play if the story doesn't see an ending. If you're unsure, make sure to wait on an official statement from Telltale themselves.