Telltale Games, the choices-matter adventure game developers behind modern classics like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, have had a less-than-spectacular last twelve months. Last September, following a slump in game sales, the studio announced a “majority studio closure,” laying off roughly 90% of their staff, leaving just enough to complete projects that needed to be fulfilled. That November, the former staff filed a class action lawsuit against the studio, claiming that the sudden layoff violated California labor laws.
Despite all of this, the studio did quietly release three episodes of Minecraft: Story Mode on Netflix, repeating the success that they had with the video game of the same name. The second season of the game, as well as the previously-announced The Wolf Among Us: Season Two, Game of Thrones: Season Two, and an as-yet-untitled “Stranger Things” game, were all put on hold, with their fates up in the air at the moment.
This past Wednesday, a deal was struck between Telltale and LCG Entertainment, breathing new life into the studio… sort of. As a direct result of this deal, the substantial back catalog of Telltale’s games is set for re-release, and there are plans to create new games for properties that were associated with the studio. Unfortunately, the deal also means that the licensing for properties like “The Walking Dead” have since reverted to their original holders, meaning that, for now, games like those named above will not get new seasons as once promised.
Jamie Ottilie, CEO of the new Telltale, said of its revival in a press release, "All of us were big fans of the games Telltale created, as we strongly believe in games as a storytelling medium and nobody did it better...We believe there is still so much life to the brand and its franchises, and we look forward to building upon the company's storytelling legacy."
Brian Waddle, chief revenue officer, added, "There is still a huge fanbase of Telltale players and that's one of the main reasons we decided to make this investment. It's hard to see your favorite games disappear or not get the sequels they deserve, so we thank everyone for their patience and support. We've got some exciting things to share soon. We'll try not to keep them waiting too long, but we think fans will be pleased."
To make a shaky situation worse, LCG has only promised some of the once-Telltale staff freelance work on their projects, with the possibility to become full-time staff down the road. The option not to absorb the remaining staff is a puzzling one, to say the least, but it seems like Telltale will live on in some form or fashion. Even with only some of the original staff still on board, it is possible for LCG to revive a studio that, just a year or so ago, seemed to have a sudden death. What comes next from this development may tip the scales.
You can check out the newly launched Telltale Games website here.