The story of Telltale Games‘ fall from grace hasn’t finished unfolding. And thanks to research done by YouTuber George Weidman (also known as “SuperBunnyHop”), we have more of an idea of how such a prolific company tumbled into bankruptcy. According to his ex-employee sources, one of Telltale’s biggest financial drains in 2018 was Netflix’s fines resulting from widely reported leaks about their multiple projects.
As part of its contract with Netflix, Telltale Games supposedly agreed to an NDA regarding their Stranger Things game. The unnamed source claimed that this was “because of the valuable IPs we were working with.” When word got out earlier this year about this game as well as Minecraft: Story Mode coming to the service, Netflix acted. Enforcing the NDA, the company fined Telltale Games for reportedly over one million dollars.
As George states in his video, this could be worrying to anyone working in or reporting on video games because leaks are sometimes uncontrollable. George gives the example of the premature Harry Potter game reveal that came from a focus tester sneaking in a camera. Would a company get punished because a mischievous fan wanted to share what they saw? Footage of the Stranger Things game also came out after the studio had (mostly) folded.
George’s video also goes into the other, more widely known reasons for Telltale’s demise. There was a change in management that came too late to save Telltale Games. Kevin Bruner, who took over the company in 2015, reportedly required sticking to the Walking Dead formula. His team also allegedly turned down the initial pitch to work on Stranger Things according to earlier leaks. Calling it “just a bunch of kids on bikes,” it took a new CEO to start up the once-promising partnership.
There was also an overreliance on venture capital in the days after the successful launch of The Walking Dead‘s first season. Investors like Microsoft and Lionsgate pulled out after sales of newer games didn’t meet expectations. This includes one event that triggered last month’s mass layoffs.
As for Telltale’s final game, The Walking Dead: The Final Season‘s last two episodes are still plagued with mystery. Skybound Games, a company founded by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, have picked up their development rights. Work is continuing to bring some former Telltale employees back into the fold, but that will take time. As of now, the game is not currently being worked on.