UPDATE: Telltale has issued an official statement via Twitter on the matter, confirming the studio’s shutdown:
— Telltale Games (@telltalegames) September 21, 2018
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale as we worked to set the company on a new course,” CEO Pete Hawley wrote in the statement. “Unfortunately, we ran out of time trying to get there. We released some of our best content this year and received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, but ultimately, that did not translate to sales. With a heavy heart, we watch our friends leave today to spread our brand of storytelling across the games industry.”
The statement also notes that 25 employees are staying on to “fulfill the company’s obligation to its board and partners.” What that means exactly remains to be seen. According to Game Informer, the remaining employees are not working on The Walking Dead as previously assumed, but rather the Netflix deal for its Minecraft: Story Mode property. If so, then it seems The Walking Dead: The Final Season is cancelled with episodes left remaining. It’s possible that someone (THQ Nordic, are you out there?) could sweep in to pick up the properties, but we may be left with an unfinished game – and people with season passes left unfulfilled. We’ll be following this story as it develops.
Original story continues below:
Telltale Games, the studio behind episodic games like The Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones, is laying off a huge chunk of its staff, retaining only a small team of 25 people moving forward.
The studio will reportedly keep working on the final season of The Walking Dead, but future projects like The Wolf Among Us 2 and Stranger Things, both previously announced, are cancelled, according to sources close to the company.
Telltale hit it big back in 2012 with the release of the first season of The Walking Dead, though the developer had been making games like Back to the Future and Tales of Monkey Island for some time before that. That success was followed with games based on popular licenses like Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman, and Minecraft. Last November, the company laid off about 90 employees in a 25% reduction of its staff. This new round of layoffs is considerably larger.
Since that round of layoffs, reports had come out of the company of a toxic workplace environment, with chronic overwork and a management team that frequently meddled with games in the course of development. Add onto that the company’s attempts to make its aging, buggy Telltale Tool work on every platform from Xbox 360 to iPhones to modern consoles to make a very stressful workplace.
The remaining 25 employees will remain to finish off the in-production season of The Walking Dead before the doors close completely. The sudden layoffs are reportedly the result of the company filing for bankruptcy. Telltale Games has not responded to any requests for comment as of yet.