UPDATE: Telltale has issued the following statement to press regarding the recent layoffs.
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.
UPDATE 2: USgamer is now reporting that the skeleton crew of 25 workers will be finishing a Minecraft: Story Mode project with Netflix. The second episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be the last.
New update on Telltale, and possibly the last for today. In light of the statement from Telltale and Pete Hawley The Walking Dead Final Season has also been cancelled. The skeleton crew remaining at Telltale is working on Minecraft Story Mode for Netflix. https://t.co/dgEGaUwyhE
— Matt Kim (@LawofTD) September 21, 2018
Our original article continues below
Rumors and reports have suggested that Telltale Games, the development team behind adventure games such as The Walking Dead, Batman: A Telltale Game Series, The Wolf Among Us and more, may be shutting down.
A short report by website Gamasutra has suggested that Telltale Games will be shutting down based on monitoring social media pages of several developers from the studio. Many developers from the studio have begun posting on social media today about losing their jobs.
Further clarification has been given by several journalists, most notably Joe Parlock, a past contributor to Forbes, who went to Twitter to all but confirm that the studio is shutting down. According to Parlock, the studio will be suffering a total closure due to bankruptcy, and that a skeleton crew will stay in place to finish off the fourth and final season of The Walking Dead. Every other game being planned by Telltale, from The Wolf Among Us 2 to their previously announced plans to bring Netflix’s Stranger Things to the video game world, have been canceled.
Okay, what I'm hearing from sources I trust is it's a total closure due to bankruptcy.
Skeleton crew is finishing off The Walking Dead, and then the whole thing will shut.
— Joe Parlock (@joeparlock) September 21, 2018
Per Parlock’s sources, the Netflix deal for Stranger Things fell apart earlier this year, and Telltale barely had enough capital to make it through the Spring of 2018. The bankruptcy plans will also shut down Telltale Games publishing arm, which was responsible for 7 Days to Die and announced today plans to publish Stranded Deep for consoles next month. It is currently unknown what the fate of Stranded Deep or 7 Days to Die will be. Parlock notes that neither title will be canceled, just no longer published by Telltale. This may also explain the recent pulling of Telltale’s Poker Night at the Inventory 2 from digital distribution.
Telltale has been suffering numerous problems for the past few years, many of which have come to head in recent months. Back in June, former Telltale CEO and co-founder Kevin Bruner sued the company while seeking recovery of financial damages. Bruner was a controversial figure at Telltale, fired and directly blamed for poor leadership until his expulsion.
Thanks to everyone for the kind words. Of course… if you know any social/marketing/PR jobs… send them my way. ?
— Caroline Liddick (@carolineliddick) September 21, 2018
Issues of leadership and a toxic work environment have plagued Telltale for some time now. Many of the problems were attributed to over-work, creative stagnation, and toxic management team, specifically pointing to Bruner, along with other higher-ups, as a source of the problems. A full investigative piece by The Verge discussed these issues with several anonymous and former developers at Telltale earlier this year.
Some of these stories collaborate the information revealed by Parlock’s sources. Per Parlock, All the games between the first The Walking Dead and Minecraft: Story Edition failed to make money, with only Minecraft and 7 Days to Die generating a profit for the studio. This includes several smash hits from Telltale; including The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands and the 2nd season of The Walking Dead. To recoup the losses, the studio went through a restructure last year and laid off 25% of its workforce.
I can confirm that I have been laid off at my cool video game job, along with everybody else. This was a dream job and I will miss my friends terribly. Going dark for a bit, but I am available for freelance and contracted work.
— Josh Trujillo! ?️? (@losthiskeysman) September 21, 2018
As an added effect, if the studio is going through a bankruptcy, those laid off from Telltale today will receive no severance pay. We should note that the bankruptcy claims are unconfirmed at this time. That being said, current reports of several sources to other journalists make this all look like the truth
A primary source has confirmed the layoff/retention numbers. That same source also says that no severance was offered. I was unable to find a bankruptcy filing in PACER (bankruptcy has been reported elsewhere).
This story is developing. https://t.co/RMDmkPAg14
— Mike Futter (@Futterish) September 21, 2018
We reached out to Telltale and their publishing partners for a comment on the situation. We will update if any response comes our way.
The final episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season is on the schedule currently for December 10th. After that, it’s likely Telltale Games will close down for good.
What are your thoughts on Telltale’s massive round of layoffs? Leave your comments below. We at TechRaptor wish everyone out of work today the best in landing on their feet