Telltale Games is laying off a significant portion of its staff, as it moves to release fewer, but better, games. The leading developer in narrative-driven adventure games has grown exponentially since the success of Telltale's The Walking Dead season 1. They’ve slowly added new staff, and split up into several teams to release multiple games a year, including a whopping four games this year. Those would be The Walking Dead season 3, Guardians of the Galaxy, Minecraft Story Mode season 2, and Batman: The Enemy Within.
That would be a lot for any developer, and of late their games have been met with lower and lower review scores per new installment. As further confirmation that something is wrong at Telltale, the company has announced that it will be laying off 25% of its staff, 90 employees in total, in a restricting move.
In a statement, Telltale CEO Pete Hawley explained the reasoning for the move - the company wanted to field smaller teams, and release fewer games (see his statement below). Hawley also added that the move isn’t expected to impact any of the games they currently have in development:
“Our industry has shifted in tremendous ways over the past few years. The realities of the environment we face moving forward demand we evolve, as well, reorienting our organization with a focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.”
As sad as it is to hear that 90 people are now out of a job, it’s not very surprising. Game studios lay off their employees constantly, usually when they finish a game, but this kind of downsizing isn’t unusual either. Over the last few years, Telltale has grown to exponential proportions, releasing multiple games a year, signing a deal with Lionsgate Studios to produce a multi-media series, and even becoming a publisher themselves.
Even less shocking is the timing of the move, which comes just two months after Telltale’s board hired former Hawley as CEO, a former executive at Zynga. Current Unity CEO John Riccitiello joined their Board of Directors in 2015, a man once hated by the gaming community as the former CEO of Electronic Arts. Perhaps the biggest change for the studio was the loss of Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin to Campo Santo, the creative minds behind The Walking Dead season 1 that made the studio a household name to begin with.
Telltale Games has grown and evolved over the years, as many studios have, from a plucky little indie developer, to a massive corporation. It’s hard not to look at the studio these days and wonder about what it’s become, or where it’s going. As routine as it is for this business, the sudden layoff of 90 employees is still a significant move. With fan favorite The Wolf Among Us season 2, The Walking Dead season 4, and Game of Thrones season 2 somewhere on the horizon, as well as the still unannounced Lionsgate project, it’s hard to imagine how this won’t affect future games.
Source: Telltale Games