It’s already been two days since Telltale Games announced bankruptcy and sent home about 250 employees, without previous notice (read here our article on the topic). Since then, the backlash has been significant, and hundreds of tweets about the company have flooded the web.
With a fresh mind and a more informed view on the topic, we’ll try and reconstruct what impact this had on the whole video game development and gaming world.
The Skeleton Team
It has been confirmed that Telltale Games won’t complete the development of the last episode of The Walking Dead, with the grief of many pre-order buyers, who won’t probably see their 20 bucks back. Instead, due to obligations with Netflix for Minecraft: Story Mode, the last twenty-five people left in the studio have plans to take that to completion.
With this being only the tip of the iceberg of a more deeply rooted issue, Telltale former CEOs might be facing the beginning of a legal storm. But can we foresee where’s this going to take us?
This #telltalegames situation might end one of 3 ways
1: with the 25 people that are left try try to finish TWD Season 4 and get it to us by the end of the year
2: they stop making the game altogether and refund the money for season pass holders
— Vatt'gh3rn [geeksquadfam] (@NglUrquidi) September 22, 2018
Troubled Times Ahead
Many situations may result in lawsuits. Former employee Emily Grace Buck has been one of the most active voices on Twitter about the current situation of her colleagues. Many of them moved to California with their families to pursue a career as a game developer, but are now having a hard time making ends meet.
– Due to the insanely high cost of living in the Bay Area relative to payscale, many of my (unbelievably skilled and talented!!!) colleagues were living paycheck to paycheck and do not know what they are going to do to make ends meet this month
— Emily Grace Buck plz hire TTG devs! (@emilybuckshot) September 22, 2018
She affirms that some might even have to move out of the country because of their visas.
– I got confirmation that at least one (and possibly more) former Telltale employee was a foreign national here on a work visa and now has to leave the country within days. This is a nightmare.
— Emily Grace Buck plz hire TTG devs! (@emilybuckshot) September 23, 2018
There are even claims that Telltale was hiring just a week before closing. Allegedly, they even hired a Microsoft employee who left the job for the company, being fired even before their first work day.
My friends fiance left Microsoft to start at #TelltaleGames
His first day was Monday
Today he came in to a check and instructions on how to file for unemployment
The incompetence would be funny if it wasn't so fucking infuriating
You actively ruin lives
— 👁🗨 Melissa Coleman ✈️ Chicago (@_mlktea) September 22, 2018
As we can only hope this guy gets his old seat back, we can’t help but wonder about the many who are now struggling to find a new one. Other rumors concerning unbearable working hours (70/week in some cases) and concerns about the company’s diversity policy have been addressed on most social medias.
A Helping Hand
Game development-related studios offered their help in this situation, opening positions for the many experienced figures that just got laid off by Telltale Games.
Premiere company Blizzard offered to interview Telltale employees for possible job openings, and so did rising star Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), alongside with Gunfire (Sea Of Thieves) and Studio Gobo, who just recently partnered with Warner Bros for a future project.
— Compulsion Games (@CompulsionGames) September 21, 2018
We are so sorry to hear about #TellTaleGames & wanted to let you know we are currently hiring for the following positions
You can find more details here: https://t.co/amdVdR68dB#gamejobs #gamedev
— Gunfire Games (@gunfire_games) September 21, 2018
We're sorry to hear the bad news guys 😔 For any Telltale folk that have been affected by this, we're currently scaling up for two huge projects and would love to hear from you – https://t.co/IStcdszKgj #TelltaleJobs #Telltale #telltalegames pic.twitter.com/8Hqg9rXZe0
— Studio Gobo (@StudioGobo) September 22, 2018
Hundreds of other major and minor studios offered their help and solidarity to Telltale and gathered under the hashtag #TelltaleJobs in hope to help most people as possible to land on their feet. Even if we don’t have yet any news of people being hired, certainly the participation of the whole game dev community is moving.
We can only hope this episode can cast a light on workers in the game developement industry, and lead to better and more secure contractual conditions.