Why Telltale Games Closed Down So Suddenly

The Walking Dead The Final Season
(Image credit: Telltale Games)

The talk of the town this week is still the shocking revelation that Telltale Games is no more... or at least, the developers that made up its creative arm are no longer with the company and so it's no longer producing games in active development. While everyone other than 24 employees are now seeking new employment elsewhere, Telltale Games is currently operating as little more than a shell after major layoffs. But, how did it get so bad so quickly? Well, some employees have explained a bit more of the process of what went into the closure decision, and it turns out that it was something that management thought was well and fine, but it all came to a head in a way that forced Telltale Games to close down suddenly.

Speaking with Variety, Telltale co-founder Dan Connors explained that the sudden shock-and-awe collapse of Telltale under such rapid conditions was due to a round of financing that fell through. Connors explained...

The company was working diligently to close a round of financing. Unfortunately, when the last potential financial backer abruptly pulled out, we were left in a position where we had no choice but to stop production. Sadly, everyone was so focused on doing what was required to keep the company going that when the last potential partner backed out, there were no other options.

According to a separate report from Variety, the investors who backed out of the deal at the last minute were Smilegate and AMC. Smilegate is a South Korean developer known for popular games like Crossfire and Dragon Fate, whereas AMC is the current television rights holder for The Walking Dead, which is based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series.

AMC got cold feet right before the financing round was complete, and when the media conglomerate left Telltale at the table, Smilegate followed shortly thereafter. A ripple effect ensued and Lionsgate, another investor, also backed out of supporting Telltale.

The report states that the backing out on Thursday resulted in Telltale's announcement of closure on Friday. The financing would have enabled the studio to finish off the rest of The Walking Dead: The Final Season's episodes that were planned for release throughout the remainder of the year. The potential investment deal was what led Telltale to proclaim, confidently, the release dates for the remaining episodes even before the first episode was released.

However, that Friday was a dark day for the employees, as they reportedly only had half an hour to vacant the premises and gather up all their belongings.

There was no severance pay, and the exit pay was for that final week's worth of work. Healthcare will be provided up until the end of the month, according to Variety.

The remaining staff on board -- the 24 or so employees -- would finish work on the port of Minecraft: Story Mode for Netflix. Telltale is supposedly shopping around financing or outsourcing for the remaining episodes of The Walking Dead: The Final Season. However, in the interim, Telltale also had digital distributors pull the sale of the game until further notice, especially given that some people who paid for the season pass and access to all four episodes may not ever get their hands on the remaining two episodes.

Obviously, this kind of close-shave operating infrastructure was not entirely appreciated by the employees, and some of them filed lawsuits against Telltale Games for failing to give proper and prior notice to those laid off.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.