[Update 3: Telltale Statement] Telltale Games PR Manager Scott Buttersworth issued the following statement to Game Revolution:
“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.“
[Original Story] Video game developer Telltale Games laid off the majority of its staff today. The studio is currently in the midst of releasing The Walking Dead: The Final Season, and have several games announced for the future including The Wolf Among Us 2 and Stranger Things, both of which have been seemingly canceled.
GamesIndustry.biz reported mass layoffs at the studio. Several hundred employees have reportedly been let go from Telltale Games. The company is retaining a small team to finish The Walking Dead.
Emily Grace Buck is one such developer affected by this round of layoffs. She tweeted today, “hey, is anyone looking for an empathetic, kind Narrative Designer/Game Designer/ Writer for full tome or cont[r]act work? Asking for me. I don’t have a job any more.” Those laid off seem to have been given no warning, as many took to Twitter in disbelief.
While not officially confirmed, USGamer reported that The Wolf Among Us 2 and Stranger Things have been canceled as a result. As news of the layoffs have made their rounds, employees at other developers including Arkane Studios, Sony Santa Monica, and Bethesda have offered condolences to those affected.
Telltale Games has experienced layoffs in the past, although nothing at the scale suggested by these reports. In August of 2017 the studio laid off roughly 25 percent of it’s workforce, which equated to 90 employees. The developer announced a restructuring at the time, largely away from in-house technology to other game development technology.
Telltale Games has developed a myriad of adventure games based on popular IP. Their The Walking Dead series was met with critical acclaim and set them on the track to mass popularity in 2012. The developers have worked on Batman, Game of Thrones, Borderlands, and Guardians of the Galaxy games. The studio was founded in 2004, and reached major success in last few years with their string of IP-based adventure games.
[Update] Joe Parlock posted a thread with details from sources within the company. According to Parlock’s sources, Telltale will be closing down due to bankruptcy. The Telltale Games publishing arm, which brought 7 Days to Die to consoles and announced Stranded Deep this week, is “done for“. Parlock’s sources also said that most of Telltale’s games were commercial failures, and the studio was surviving on “investor money and the Netflix deal, which dried up.” That Netflix deal was going to be a two-way street — Netflix was developing plans to turn Minecraft: Story Mode into a TV show, and Telltale was to develop a Stranger Things game. Parlock’s sources also said that unlike last year’s round of layoffs, this time there will be no severance pay.
[Update 2] Telltale Games’ former CEO Kevin Bruner issued a statement about the news on his personal site. He referred to the news as a “closure” of the studio, although it is still unclear if the studio will continue after these layoffs. Bruner said, “I’m mostly saddened for the people who are losing their jobs at a studio they love. And I’m also saddened at the loss of a studio that green-lit crazy ideas that no one else would consider. (…) I will always find “A Telltale Game” to have been a unique offering.” Bruner issued a suit against the developer in June of this year. The lawsuit saw him seeking to recover financial damages, and was referred to by Telltale as “meritless”.