With one of the least expected and most devastating game studio closures in recent memory, last week saw the end of the legacy created by Telltale Games who grew from humble point and click adventure beginnings with games like Sam and Max to what some dub ‘interactive movies’ like Telltale’s The Walking Dead. In a world where corporate greed gets the best of many design teams, Telltale Games was guilty of chasing a formula for printing money. Nearly 300 people have lost their jobs (estimates ranging from 225 – 280) after being given 30 minutes notice, no severance pay, and only enough health care to last them and their families until the end of the month (which is just a few days away at the time of this writing).
While many employees from the creative team had already jumped ship, and a round of layoffs previous had promised to fix the course of the company, it is safe to say that few realized just how dire the situation was. Even though a handful of demographics considered their products ‘not real games’, most appreciated Telltale’s story-driven titles as a break from other gameplay intensive projects in their library. Telltale’s well written plots and characters made it so that even though their decision making wasn’t crucially impactful, their games were still very much enjoyable experiences. And even with way too many licenses on their hands at once, the company seemed to be getting decent sales and staying afloat.
However, deep under the surface there were tensions brewing between the developers and the executive branch of the company. Somehow, money was also beginning to run dry. New ways to monetize and spread Telltale’s ‘interactive experiences’ to a larger audience were being explored. New partnerships were being sought out for funding. All the while, gamers were waiting longer and longer for every episode and began to notice that the game engine behind these titles never improved in any substantial way. Then finally, Telltale ran out of time to fix their problems boiling under the surface, and everything seems to have overflown at once.