Telltale Games Is Coming Back. Sort of. Actually, Maybe Save Your Excitement.
Last year, Telltale Games abruptly shut down, much to the dismay of fans and employees alike. All but a skeleton crew of the more than 250-person company were let go with no warning or severance and only about a week of health benefits, and the news came before the final episodes of Robert Kirkman’s groundbreaking and much-beloved The Walking Dead game had been released. Skybound Games stepped in to finish that project with some of the original developers on board, although the vast majority of the original Telltale team was still out of work and even those brought along were not being offered long-term employment.
So it felt like exciting news to hear yesterday that Telltale Games was coming back. But there are some snags. Some big ones.
The company is being revived after its assets were purchased by a holding company called LCG Entertainment, headed up by Jamie Ottilie and Brian Waddle, neither of whom worked for the original Telltale. They won’t be able to keep working on The Walking Dead, as that’s still owned by Skybound. But according to Polygon, “Ottilie confirmed that the new business has back-catalog rights to licensed properties The Wolf Among Us and Batman as well as full rights to original Telltale games such as Puzzle Agent.” He also said that “There are some other expired licenses that we’re looking at.”
So on the one hand, this is a company put some incredibly innovative games into the world, and if the new owners have as much respect for the original creative vision as they say they do, that’s great.
But the company also isn’t doing very much at all for the original staff, whose class-action lawsuit against Telltale was dismissed earlier this year. The new Telltale is reportedly offering freelance opportunities to some of those employees, with the possibility, they say, of full-time positions in the future. (Those positions would also presumably require those “freelancers” to move across the state, as the old Telltale was officed in San Rafael, California, and the new Telltale will be in Malibu, 400 miles south.)
As Kotaku puts it, “In other words, a bunch of people are taking a familiar, beloved name and slapping it on something brand new.”
better headline for this: “New Owners of Telltale Want to Hire Back Old Staff, But Without Sick Days, Vacation Days, Health Insurance, Basic Workers’ Rights, Etc.” https://t.co/MqjMyr4PvD
— Wow, Bob Mackey! 🔜 PAX West (@bobservo) August 28, 2019
Look. If this new Telltale really wants to bring back the studio and are genuine in their intents, then I honestly hope it works out.
But hiring former devs on a freelance basis in the most expensive part of the country doesn’t really encourage me that much.
— Jessica Krause (@kessjrause) August 28, 2019
God, if all of Kotaku’s staff were laid off and then two random people bought the brand a year later, offered us freelance gigs, and got press hype like “Kotaku is back!” I’d be so fucking furious – my sympathies to all the former Telltale employees who have to deal with this
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) August 28, 2019
(via Polygon, image: Telltale)
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