The Walking Dead developer Telltale hit with devastating layoffs as part of a ‘majority studio closure’September 22, 2018
Telltale Games, creators of episodic adventure games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off approximately 250 employees today as part of what the company is calling a “majority studio closure.” According to multiple sources The Verge spoke with, employees were let go with no severance.
“Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” the company said in a statement. “A majority of the company’s employees were dismissed earlier this morning.” The company will retain a small team of 25. These remaining employees will stay on “to fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners,” according to Telltale.
The final season of Telltale’s award-winning series, The Walking Dead, kicked off last month. The second episode is slated to launch next week. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.
Telltale had previously announced a second season of The Wolf Among Us and a game based off of Netflix’s wildly popular show Stranger Things. The company has not yet commented on the status of those projects, though the outcome seems dire. On Twitter, one former lead writer wrote, “I’m so sad we won’t be able to show you all Wolf.”
The layoffs come a few months after revelations that Telltale was a studio mired in toxic management that included employees being subjected to constant overwork. Once an industry darling that worked on iconic brands like Game of Thrones and Minecraft, Telltale quickly spiraled. In June, co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner sued the company seeking recovery of financial damages. Telltale described the suit as “meritless” and “an apparent means of extracting revenge on a company already under financial strain.”
In a post on his personal site today titled “Telltale closure,” Bruner wrote that he is “saddened for the people who are losing their jobs at a studio they love. And I’m also saddened at the loss of a studio that green-lit crazy ideas that no one else would consider.”
This isn’t the first time Telltale has been subject to layoffs; last November the company laid off 90 employees, which was approximately 25 percent of its workforce. “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,” CEO Pete Hawley said at the time.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale as we worked to set the company on a new course,” Hawley said today. “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.”
Update September 21st 5:40PM ET: This article has been updated with Telltale’s statement about the layoffs.