The world of gaming recently lost an indie icon as Telltale games announced their studio was to close. As of September 21st, the studio is operating on a ‘skeleton crew’ with over 200 staff members laid off.
Telltale was founded in 2004 by LucasArts developers Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors and Troy Molander. The trio began their passion project after LucasArts announced they would be moving away from the action-adventure genre.
They originally replicated a similar point and click format with established intellectual properties such as Sam and Max. It was in 2012 when the company first shot to prominence with the release of the Walking Dead series.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult year for Telltale as we worked to set the company on a new course. Unfortunately, we ran out of time trying to get there.” – Telltale Games statement.
Critically acclaimed for revitalising a tired genre and creating engaging and impactful storylines. The episodic, emotionally fraught format became their trademark as Telltale blazed new trails in gaming.
A series of hits that also even spawned highly successful imitators in the genre like Life is Strange. But with the last of their investors pulling out recently, Telltale is all but consecrated to the history books whilst on the verge of some exciting new ventures for fans.
As the figureheads desperately try to keep the wheels turning many fans are clambering for updates. So what does the news mean for Telltale fans? And what might we still see from the studio as a final hoorah?
Netflix and Telltale
Telltale were preparing to broach new ground with their successful Minecraft: Story Mode series. The game was set to be ported to Netflix as an interactive TV series which is something the streaming juggernaut are eager to explore.
Netflix produced their first interactive TV show Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale in June last year. They have moved to produced similar concepts with the Stretch Armstrong and Thunderstruck franchises as a new form of children’s entertainment.
Netflix approach a partnership with Telltale about getting their popular Minecraft series recreated in a similar format. Early news is that the majority of Telltale staff left on will be working on finishing that project although no release date is yet confirmed.
Telltale had also acquired the license to produce a Stranger Things game as a part of the deal. The news on that front is not so positive as Netflix have also announced they will be exploring other options to produce the game without Telltale.
“Minecraft: Story Mode is still moving forwards as planned. We are in the process of evaluating other options for bringing the Stranger Things universe to life in an interactive medium.” – Netflix Official Statement
The Walking Dead: Final Season and The Wolf Among Us 2
Two of Telltale’s most popular series were both set to receive sequels in the coming future. They were in fact in the middle of releasing the final season of the Walking Dead wrapping up Clementine’s story.
Telltale also announced the much-anticipated sequel to the Wolf Among Us originally slated for release this year. Financial complications pushed the release back to 2019 and it now looks as though we’ll never see it.
Along with Stranger Things, the early signs are that the series will be cancelled barring some significant turnaround. As Telltale continues to grind on, it seems only the addition of a significant new investor could change these fortunes.
As for the final season of the Walking Dead, the first episode was actually already available for purchase. Telltale have expressed an interest in ending the series that started it all in a suitable manner. Initial plans are believed to be to condense the final three episodes to two, speeding up the process and cheapening costs.
Other reports are also suggesting the studio could tack a rushed ending onto the second episode which was released four days after the studio collapsed. Telltale also released a statement announcing they intend to:
“Fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners.”
Telltale has since pulled The Walking Dead: The Final Season from online sale suggesting the latter reports will probably be closer to the truth. The complete episode one and two will likely be repackaged and resold with a new conclusive ending to the franchise in the coming months.