Telltale Games Co-founder: “The Way the Studio Was Shut Down Was Horrifying”

Mista

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Studio’s co-founder and former CEO Kevin Bruner talked to Game Informer recently

”If I were an employee there, I would feel wronged, definitely. We’ll see what becomes of that. It’s tough now because there’s not much of a Telltale left to right the wrongs.”
“I will say that the way the studio was shut down was horrifying to me. People just showing up on a Friday and being told to go home because the company doesn’t exist anymore is not something I would have ever endorsed, and is absolutely not something I would have done.”
“I don’t understand exactly what happened in the final moments there to know why they executed the shutdown the way they did .It kills me, though. It really kills me. Telltale was such a big part of who I am.”
What happened to them is heartbreaking. I always loved telltale games as they gave me beautiful experiences
 

Gamernyc78

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Yeah that sucks and wish them the best in finding new positions. Is he saying they didn't get ample notice that the company was closing and it just happened overnight? I remember the rumor mills spinning well before the company was actually shut down so I don't understand how the quotes are insinuating it happened over night.

With tht said in order to grow and have a future you cannot be a one trick pony (unless your like a COD). Even with staple ips you need to try new things and refresh it.
 
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Mr Nash

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Aren't there fairly noticeable signs internally when a company is doing poorly? These things usually don't happen over night. People paying attention tend to see what's going on and jump ship to greener pastures well in advance of the inevitable collapse. Did that just not happen here?
 

BusierDonkey

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Aren't there fairly noticeable signs internally when a company is doing poorly? These things usually don't happen over night. People paying attention tend to see what's going on and jump ship to greener pastures well in advance of the inevitable collapse. Did that just not happen here?
What happened at Telltale is a pretty common story with poorly managed businesses.

Things go south, double down on the thing that's causing the business to fail, fail faster. Now the company is circling the drain but you think you can still fix it, by doubling down again. Now you're up shit creek and the end is near but you don't tell anyone because you want the employees to be working at 100%. Shit goes south and everyone has their walking papers on Monday morning.

I worked at a shop where half of us were cut loose on a Monday morning. We were super busy, but apparently we were busy because the owners were severely under-bidding everyone and losing money on every job. Some of our best guys were walked out the front door.
 
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JareBear

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What happened at Telltale is a pretty common story with poorly managed businesses.

Things go south, double down on the thing that's causing the business to fail, fail faster. Now the company is circling the drain but you think you can still fix it, by doubling down again. Now you're up shit creek and the end is near but you don't tell anyone because you want the employees to be working at 100%. Shit goes south and everyone has their walking papers on Monday morning.

I worked at a shop where half of us were cut loose on a Monday morning. We were super busy, but apparently we were busy because the owners were severely under-bidding everyone and losing money on every job. Some of our best guys were walked out the front door.
I worked at a casino that let half of the janitorial staff go overnight. Many didn’t have cell phones or cars so they road a shuttle up to work everyday. I was sitting outside on break when the graveyard crew showed up and were told right there on the spot that they didn’t have jobs anymore. Brutal
 

DigitalScrap

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Wait what? Games lacked quality? You played their games? Wolf among us, Tales from the borderlands, Batman, GoT and many many were good quality. Don’t know what you on about..
People just complained about the engine and therefore the graphics. Never bothered me - games are about so much more than graphics for me. I personally never had any issues with the presentation of the Telltale games - I don't play games simply to talk about framerates and lighting and shadows, I like games that give me good experiences and are fun. I know the genre isn't for everyone, but I liked their games.
 
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On the plus side didn't they have 300 people working there at one time? So lots of employment.

They should have been better at business and focus on one project at a time with maybe 40 people. If you look at their games list, in the last few years they were shotgunning Teltale releases like crazy. Most gamers probably didn't even know about them.
 

Mista

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People just complained about the engine and therefore the graphics. Never bothered me - games are about so much more than graphics for me. I personally never had any issues with the presentation of the Telltale games - I don't play games simply to talk about framerates and lighting and shadows, I like games that give me good experiences and are fun. I know the genre isn't for everyone, but I liked their games.
I like you. DigitalScrap, you’re my DigitalHeart now. Apparently everyone is obsessed now with 4k and framerates to the point they forgot the purpose of video games. Well, who cares right? As long as we’re enjoying then that’s all that matters.
 
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Their revival of Sam & Max was a gem (particularly The Devil's Playhouse season), so I hope the franchise comes back again in capable hands.
 

Noboru Wataya

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Did I dream it, or were telltale running on a Ponzi Scheme? I remember reading something along the lines of game 5 funding was used to pay for game 4 development, for example.

From what I understood they never even had their own money to bleed after the first Walking Dead. Ironically the studio was just a walking corpse.

 
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Did I dream it, or were telltale running on a Ponzi Scheme? I remember reading something along the lines of game 5 funding was used to pay for game 4 development, for example.

From what I understood they never even had their own money to bleed after the first Walking Dead. Ironically the studio was just a walking corpse.
If that's what happened, where did the cash go? Wasn't WD 1 a hge success? They should have been swimming in money. And I think Wolf did ok too.
 

Noboru Wataya

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If that's what happened, where did the cash go? Wasn't WD 1 a hge success? They should have been swimming in money. And I think Wolf did ok too.
I need to read up on it all again but I thought WD1 was their only real success, then they just tried to license deals with studios left, right and centre to acquire funding to keep the lights on.
 
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StormCell

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I'm probably just cynical, but I don't hear sincerity in those words from the former CEO and co-founder. I just see dollar bills dancing merrily in his mind.
 

St3v3

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Such a shame, I loved their games. I literally just finished The Walking Dead Final Season and it was great, very few games, if any give me the same emotional response.
 

Harry Tung

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Telltale shutting down came as a complete surprise for me (and many others I believe). I was always under the impression that their games sold well and was well reviewed with audiences and critics. I myself played Walking Dead S 1 & 2, Tales from the Borderlands and Wolf among Us and I thought they were all very solid games, albeit very similar in execution and style. It´s sad to see them gone, I hope for the best for all involved and that they find work elsewhere in the industry.
 

EctoPrime

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When you look back the company was always involved with anything that could give them a short term funding boost. From throwing anything they could on Plus and Xbox gold to multiple Humble bundles. Even the season pass discs must have brought in a profit to keep doing it. If the Epic game store was handing out money for exclusives earlier they would have jumped on that aswell.

Many of these short term boosts just devalued the games to things that you should wait to pay next to nothing for.
 

Tesseract

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arrogance killed the studio. taking on too many projects, decline in quality and then not updating their tech. see ya.
100% this, no matter what anyone else thinks it will always be this

the writing was on the wall since their very first projects
 

dottme

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I feel it was mainly a budget issue. They've got one big success and they were expecting the same for all their other game.
But the genre they were in was a niche market and they should have developed the game with much more reasonable sale numbers.
 
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Wait what? Games lacked quality? You played their games? Wolf among us, Tales from the borderlands, Batman, GoT and many many were good quality. Don’t know what you on about..
They certainly had some great titles. But there were at least two bad games for every good one.

They were releasing too many games covering too many licenses, and each individual game suffered because of it more and more as time went on.

When you look back the company was always involved with anything that could give them a short term funding boost. From throwing anything they could on Plus and Xbox gold to multiple Humble bundles. Even the season pass discs must have brought in a profit to keep doing it. If the Epic game store was handing out money for exclusives earlier they would have jumped on that aswell.
Indeed.

I started noticing the excessivenes of this about six months before they went under. It got really bad and noticable there near the end - deal after deal after deal. What happened was an inevitability.
 
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Teslerum

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Rather than the games lacking quality, for me it was more that their games lacked any ambition post-Season 1 Walking Dead, adventure elements fell to the wayside or were particulary impressive in the choice department at all.

(Granted, regarding choices, nobody else who copied them really tried as well. I still consider Alpha Protocol the most impressive with that specific style of dialouge scenes and that games development was a ripe mess)
 

Fahdis

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Wait, its over? I thought they were still making more games after the last season.
 

TimFL

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Wait what? Games lacked quality? You played their games? Wolf among us, Tales from the borderlands, Batman, GoT and many many were good quality. Don’t know what you on about..
They maybe were entertaining stories, but the signature Telltale „no choice really matters“ gameplay broke their neck when stuff like Until Dawn, Detroit or even Life is Strange started to trickle in, schooling them on how it‘s done.
If that's what happened, where did the cash go? Wasn't WD 1 a hge success? They should have been swimming in money. And I think Wolf did ok too.
Pretty sure only the first Walking Dead game made them big bucks. TWAU was critically acclaimed but never made any real money. Their later stuff like Batman and GOTG were dead on arrival in terms of sales.


I think it‘s incredibly cringeworthy that Brunner goes around talking about Telltales demise. The tales are out there about how he was essentially the one who wrecked Telltale and caused the eventual closure by fucking it up big time with his business decisions. Not much their new CEO could do to turn the ship around.
 
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