The Closure of Telltale Games

Lukas Luna, Co-Copy Editor

On Sept. 21 California-based game developer Telltale announced with a statement on Twitter the studio’s imminent closure and a large round of layoffs. The news of the layoffs of roughly 250 employees comes from CEO Pete Howley’s statement, “ It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale.”


The studio also announced the cancelation of all future projects, with the possible exception of the last two episodes of the the current season of their The Walking Dead adaptation.   


Adding controversy to the studio’s closure, Telltale announced that its employees will not receive any severance. The incident has sparked a lawsuit from the former workers and has started a conversation about working conditions within the gaming industry.  


The announcement of the studio’s sudden closure was met with a wave of disappointment by fans. Among them is Isaiah Fernandez, 10.  


“I’m very sad about it,” Fernandez said. “They were in development of a Stranger Things game which I was really looking forward to… so I’m honestly really sad.”  


Telltale was not always the beloved developer it is known as today.  The studio’s early games received mixed critical reception and often went under the radar.  The studio truly gained popularity when it released the first season of their Walking Dead adaptation. The game came seemingly out of nowhere and wowed audiences with its immersive story.


“The Walking Dead: Episode 1” put players in the shoes of convict Lee Everett. Players navigate the dangerous world of the franchise while also protecting a little girl named Clementine. An emphasis was placed on making difficult decisions in a short amount of time, resulting in a narrative that truly felt like the player’s own.


Telltale then followed up the first season of The Walking Dead with The Wolf Among Us, an adaptation of Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series. The studio applied the formula that made The Walking Dead so successful to Willingham’s world, where fairy tale characters lived in a gritty version of 1980’s New York.  


The double-hitter of the two games earned the developer legions of fans and established them as a force to be reckoned within the gaming industry. This is viewed by gamers, including Jesse Sandoval, 10, as the studio’s peak.


“I think the studio’s creative peak was The Wolf Among Us,” Sandoval said. “The big bad wolf was a cop in the story and it portrays what would happen if you were an actual cop in that type of situation.”


Despite the folding of Telltale, the story-based, adventure game formula they helped bring to the mainstream is still going strong. Developers like Night School Studios and Dontnod (to name only a few) continue to put out story-driven games that are met with acclaim by both critics and fans. To some, like Julian Romero, 10, Telltale was only the beginning of story-based games in the mainstream.

“There is always going to be another one [studios like Telltale] no matter what happens,” Romero said. “They’re always going to make new games more efficiently.”


If Telltale does to continue releasing The Walking Dead:Season Four, then episode three will likely be out Nov. 6.