Telltale Games, a breath of fresh air in the gaming world that rose to prominence with its Walking Dead games, is shutting down.
Several Telltale employees announced on social media that they were let go and would not receive severance pay. Kevin Bruner, co-founder and former CEO of Telltale, confirmed the closing of the studio in a blog post on September 21, “Today, I’m mostly saddened for the people who are losing their jobs at a studio they love,” he said. “And I’m also saddened at the loss of a studio that green-lit crazy ideas that no one else would consider. I’m comforted a bit knowing there are now so many new talented people and studios creating games in the evolving narrative genre.”
Bruner left a year and a half ago following gridlock with Telltale’s board of directors. In 2017, the studio laid off 90 employees, who later told US Gamer about a “culture of crunch” and how they were pushed to create excellent content as quickly as possible. The time restriction, workload and late-in-development rewrites from superiors in the company was severely detrimental to the employees. Telltale’s closure speaks to corporate mismanagement, which had run rife through the studio for years.
The studio produced well-loved series including Batman, Tales from the Borderlands, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Wolf Among Us, which was finally getting a season two after demand from fans. The second season, along with an upcoming Stranger Things game, is now effectively canceled, while a handful of employees will stay on to work on The Walking Dead: Final Season.
It’s sad to say goodbye to a studio that, despite working with so many well-recognized IPs, managed to bring original ideas to its gameplay and surprise players at every turn. The Wolf Among Us, a story-driven fantasy noir based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comics, remains one of my favorite games since I first played it in 2013. Kudos should be awarded to the hardworking employees of Telltale who, despite the rough working conditions, turned out excellent games.