It was a sad day for the gaming industry when it was announced that the studio behind the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead, Telltale Games, would be closing its doors. Now, the studio is making a comeback with new owners at the helm.
Telltale Games is getting a second life, thanks to a new group of investors who bought the company’s assets.
The studio closed its doors last year, cancelling all future projects and laying off their staff under notorious circumstances. Many thought that this would mean the end. More worryingly was that a whole catalogue of games, including The Walking Dead, Batman and The Wolf Among Us, which were seen by many as some of the best narrative-driven games in the industry, would possibly be lost forever.
It seems, however, that the new owners won’t let that happen.
The newly relaunched studio will be helmed by Jamie Ottilie and Brian Waddle. Both have extensive experience in mobile gaming and technology industry. Ottilie has worked mostly on licensed mobile games while Waddle was part of the PR team for the Havok physics engine.
The new studio will be operating out of Malibu and, much to the delight of fans, will be re-releasing selected games from the studio’s catalogue.
Ottilie also commented in an interview with Polygon that the studio wants to remain small and focused. “We’re going to stay small over the next six months and we will work for more of a distributed development pipeline than Telltale was known for. We’ll focus on tools, technology, and design in-house. Some things like animation and motion capture will be done with the right partnerships externally.”
The new studio has also hired and contracted some of its former employees, albeit on a freelance basis with the possibility to turn permanent when it becomes viable. Ottilie explained in another interview what the studio’s plans were going forward with regards to hiring new people. “We will be hiring eight to 10 people in the next six months and will be somewhere around 30 by the end of our first year. We would love to bring back everyone who wants to come but that just isn’t the economic reality of the games industry and it would be irresponsible of us to do so.”
There is a bit of scepticism from the former employees of the studio, which is understandable since the majority of them were let go without any notice or severance packages. Jessica Krause one of the studio’s former employees voiced her hope that this could be a new chapter for both the studio and the employees who have either been rehired. “This news has been difficult to digest … There are a few former Telltale employees who are employed by this new company which has purchased and taken on the Telltale name. They seem excited to be involved, and understandably wary, given the state of games, about broadcasting their involvement. I admit that I’m sceptical, but given the enthusiasm of those involved, I’m choosing to be cautiously optimistic about this new company calling itself Telltale.”
Many fans have called for the newly launched studio to help pay the debts of the former management who were let go and to rehire those former employees who had lost their jobs.
Is this a happy ending for Telltale games and its former employees? Only time will tell.