After 14 years, adventure game developer Telltale Games is undergoing major lay-offs and preparing to close its doors. They are currently left with a remaining skeleton crew of 25 staff members to “fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners”. Among their remaining obligations is their work on Netflix’s Minecraft: Story Mode. The upcoming projects the studio had in development have been cancelled, including the Stranger Things project and The Wolf Among Us 2. And to add insult to injury, The Waking Dead: The Final Season has also been cancelled after 2 episodes have already been released, leaving Clementine’s story unfinished.
Their official statement –
— Telltale Games (@telltalegames) September 21, 2018
The final obligation that remaining crew will be fulfilling is their work on Netflix’s Minecraft: Story Mode. It’s a great disappointment that the game that put them on the map – The Walking Dead – will be left unfinished. An even greater disappointment is that a company of over 300 employees has been cut back without notice to 25. However, this news likely doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that’s followed Telltale’s game development. The studio took on several major IPs at once that likely weren’t cheap – Batman, Stranger Things, Guardians of the Galaxy, and others. Furthermore, their formula has admittedly grown a bit stale over the years as the same gameplay is re-skinned under different properties.
Still, I don’t think anyone would argue that Telltale didn’t have some great writers who managed to tell compelling stories in already-established universes. The Walking Dead: Season One was one of the most heartfelt stories that the medium has seen in recent years. It really is a shame that the studio won’t be able to wrap production on their planned projects, but here’s hoping that the talented staff from Telltale Games are able to share their stories with other developers and continue to make an impression on the industry’s storytelling.