Celebrated studio Telltale Games shuts down in the messiest way possible

Celebrated studio Telltale Games shuts down in the messiest way possible
Credit: Telltale Games

Over the past 14 years, California-based game development studio Telltale Incorporated made a name for itself with its range of well crafted adventure- and story-driven titles. That includes hits like The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and adaptations of popular franchises including Batman, The Walking Dead, Minecraft, and Game of Thrones.

Sadly, Telltale’s journey came to an end last week, when it abruptly pulled the plug on the majority of its operations and left between 225 and 250 employees without a job. CEO Pete Hawley explained that it all came down to poor sales.

In addition, it’s canceled the highly anticipated second season of The Wolf Among Us. Only 25 members of Telltale’s staff will remain to complete existing obligations, like the final season of The Walking Dead.

It’s becoming clear just how poorly this move was handled by management at Telltale. Some former employees reported that they didn’t even receive severance pay; some employees were hired roughly just a week before the abrupt majority closure; some will see their healthcare expire in just a few short days.

As if it isn’t hard enough to have the rug pulled out from under your feet at your job like this, it’s worth remembering that Telltale was is based in the Bay Area, where the costs of housing and living are among the highest in the country.

It isn’t easy to grow and thrive in the game industry, and it’s especially difficult when you’re targeting a niche the way Telltale did. But that doesn’t get the company’s management off the hook for its sudden move, and the way it has treated its employees.

What’s worse, some former fans of the studio thought this would be the best time to let their sexist and misogynist flags fly high:

Telltale has also angered some customers who spent money on games that still had content on the way. Sadly, some of them can only put their needs ahead of the situation facing Telltale’s employees:

The company should have handled this a lot better, and it certainly could have. At the end of last year, it laid off 25 percent of its staff. It’s known for a while that sales have been flagging and that it’s been using aging technology that wouldn’t serve it well for future titles.

The only silver lining on this dark cloud is that #TelltaleJobs – which is currently being used by former employees, fans, and other game studios to help the company’s laid-off staff find new gigs – is picking up steam on Twitter. Hopefully, the team will find new homes in short order.

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