Developer behind the Walking Dead games suddenly shutters
Telltale Games, an American video game developer, released a statement on their Twitter account on Friday, Sept. 21, saying that they had let go a majority of their staff after a difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure.
A small group of 25 employees — out of approximately 250 that were employed, according to Forbes — will be staying on to fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners, reads the statement.
Last year, the company laid off 90 employees, which was 25 percent of the staff. This month’s firing has left about 90 percent of the staff without jobs, and none of them were giving a severance, according to sources that spoke to The Verge. According to one of those sources, employees were given roughly 30 minutes to get out of the building.
Brandon Cebenka, a character artist for Telltale Games, went to Twitter to voice his displeasure.
“None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today,” Cebenka tweeted. “Don’t work overtime unless you’re paid for it, y’all. Protect your health. Companies don’t care about you.”
The company has been allegedly mired with many issues for some time now. An in-depth report released in March by The Verge cites the company as having mismanagement problems, unsustainable growth and a culture that had employees working 14- to 18-hour days.
“Although many employees were sympathetic to the pressure to hit financial goals and meet the strict requirements ... the rapid pace of development caused many employees to feel significant burnout. Eventually, the emails from higher-ups encouraging the staff to push through a particularly rough patch began to feel redundant,” the report reads.
In March of 2017, Kevin Bruner, CEO and co-founder of Telltale Games, left the company after a clash with the board of directors. The replacement CEO, Pete Hawley, came in and began the 90-person layoff, denying question that Telltale Games could be a company in deeply troubling waters, according to video game news website Gamespot.
Following the announcement of the closing of Telltale Games, Bruner wrote a blog on his personal website speaking about his personal experience with the company.
“I left Telltale a year and a half ago after an extended period where the Board of Directors and I had very different visions of Telltale’s future and how we might get there,” Bruner wrote. “That was one of the hardest times of my professional life, but in the end the company is controlled by its Board of Directors and I respected their decision throughout.”
Bruner goes on to say how saddened he is for the employees losing their jobs and for a closing studio that embraced creative risks that no one else would consider.
Telltale’s closure came with questions about what would happen to the company’s popular award-winning Walking Dead series. The final season was released last month, but not all chapters release at once.
The second chapter of the game came out on Sept. 25, and it will likely be the game’s last.
Telltale Games released an update saying that they were looking for solutions to finishing The Walking Dead: The Final Season, but the game’s status is currently undecided.
“Multiple potential partners have stepped forward to express interest in helping to see The Final Season through to completion. While we can’t make any promises today, we are actively working towards a solution that will allow episodes 3 and 4 to be completed and release in some form.”
The Walking Dead isn’t the only game whose status is currently unknown; all of Telltale’s other titles are currently on hold, including the second season of the popular 2013 title The Wolf Among Us.