It’s been a few days since the Telltale Games shutdown news and there has been a lot of reaction by the studio’s former employees. The closure, which was announced on Friday, affected some 250 people who are now out of work. According to Emily Grace, a former narrative designer at Telltale, she and her co-workers did not receive any severance packages and their health plan runs out next week. On top of that, many employees were contract workers and as a result aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. Grace also mentioned that many employees were living paycheck to paycheck, due to the high cost of living in the San Francisco area, and are now on the verge of becoming destitute.
Character artist Brandon Sebenka said that, “None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today. Don’t work overtime unless you’re paid for it, y’all… Companies don’t care about you.”
Game Worker Unite, an organization which was created to try and unionize the video game industry called Telltale’s executives “incompetent” and “exploitative.” They also mentioned that while the Telltale closure was handled extremely poorly, it’s not an isolated incident.
“This problem is not isolated to only Telltale or the executives there – this is a problem that we see time and time again throughout the industry, and we will continue to see as long as management is able to take advantage of workers. Just within the past month, we’ve seen three major studio closures. The system for creating games is broken, and it will result in the collapse of many other beloved studios in the future.”
Telltale Games had a number of projects that they were working on before the closure announcement, including the final season of their Walking Dead series and a Stranger Things video game. Today some footage from the Stranger Things project was allegedly leaked online and it gives a glimpse at the game that could have been.
As for the Walking Dead, former lead designer Michael Kirkbride confirmed that the second episode of the game’s fourth season will be the final one. He also stressed that although this isn’t how they wanted things to go, the team is still proud of its final episode.
“We know it’s weird, we know it sucks, we know it’s sad in ways that are almost impossible to articulate, and we know it’s awful that we can’t tell you what would’ve happened after, but the episode is also just goddamn good, and the best feeling we could have right now is to know it’s being played,” he said.
Telltale Games closure comes less than a week after Capcom Vancouver’s shutdown announcement. Between the two companies, 400 game industry employees have lost their jobs in the last week. It’s unclear as to what’s next for these people but companies such as Ubisoft and EA have already reached out for potential employment opportunities.
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