Telltale Games, the developer behind numerous adventure video games, including an episodic series based on The Walking Dead, will lay off the majority of its staff, effectively closing the studio. Only 25 employees will remain, while 225 more will lose their jobs.
While the studio enjoyed plenty of success and critical acclaim after The Walking Dead and other titles like The Wolf Among Us, Telltale still underwent through turbulent times. Just last November, Telltale laid off 25 percent of their workforce, a total of 90 people, as the company attempted to restructure. Even after the unfortunate news, the studio pressed on, promising to release their final season of The Walking Dead, along with a second season of The Wolf Among Us and a new game based on Stranger Things.
Many of these plans will never come to fruition, with Telltale essentially shutting down. The Verge reports that multiple sources within the studio confirmed the massive layoffs, while USGamer reported that The Wolf Among Us and the Stranger Things game were both canceled - The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which still has three episodes left planned for release, will be completed by the leftover skeleton crew. Later, Telltale co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner, who is suing the company over breach of contract, confirmed the news on a blog post. As the final nail in the coffin, the "majority studio closure" was made official with a statement from Telltale CEO Pete Hawley via the company's Twitter account.
The closure of this studio is shocking to the gaming community - after the success of season 1 of The Walking Dead in 2012, the longevity of the studio was unquestioned. But the company, originally famous for the Sam & Max series, took on an unprecedented number of projects, arguably spreading the company too thin. These projects included games based on Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Batman - most of these titles receiving mixed reactions from players compared to the positive reviews of The Walking Dead. The previous layoffs may have been an attempt to control the studio's workload, but this apparently was not enough.
It certainly doesn't help that the studio's later games suffered technical issues, with their game engine the Telltale Tool being infamous for its buggy nature. Despite this criticism, Telltale stuck with the engine, only pledging to move on from it after The Walking Dead's final season. Additionally, the company's employees were reportedly subjected to mismanagement, and overall work overload. With poor and unhealthy business practices and a dated graphics engine, the closure of Telltale Games may not be too much a surprise for those following the company. Studio layoffs are always unfortunate - Capcom Vancouver just suffered from its own closure. Hopefully, these laid-off employees will find their footing with new jobs, and perhaps if the final episodes of The Walking Dead are well received, it will be a proper send-off for the company after this unfortunate and tumultuous behind-the-scenes experience.