In case you missed it, yesterday, out of nowhere, Telltale Games — the team behind The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, Batman, and more — announced its closure.
Details around the shuttering are still quite scarce — and much of what we do know is unofficial — but Telltale has confirmed that all that is left of its once 250-plus studio is a skeleton crew of 25 that will remain “to fulfill the company's obligations to its board and partners.”
At the time, it was believed that such obligations would include finishing the ongoing, and last, season of The Walking Dead, which premiered last month. However, reports have since come out that claim the 25 developers left are actually working on Minecraft: Story Mode — which is being made in collaboration with Netflix — and that The Walking Dead: The Final Season has been cancelled. And these reports are further validated by Netflix confirming that Minecraft: Story Mode will not be impacted by the studio closing.
The whole situation is very confusing, and hopefully, further elucidation will arrive in the coming days from Telltale, who said it would soon provide an update on what the closure specifically means for its portfolio.
But the confusion doesn't end there: people are perplexed about why the studio is closing in the first place. And part of this is because the studio's considerable size and its involvement in huge IP gave off the aura of nothing but the greenest of pastures.
Telltale was founded in 2004, but it wasn't a household name in the gaming community until 2012, when it released The Walking Dead, a game that would go on to be not only a critical success, but a commercial one. To this day, it is considered one of the best games of last-generation, as well as one of the most impactful.
Not only did The Walking Dead put Telltale on the map, allow it to scale rapidly, and tackle some of the biggest IP in entertainment, it brought back the adventure genre, which was a ghost before 2012. Granted it was with a Telltale-style twist, but it helped paved the way for many games in the forgotten genre to since release.
With all of this in mind, it's easy to understand why some are confused and dumbfoundead about the studio's sudden closure. But according to a new report, it's quite clear why it closed: it wasn't making money on any of its games.
According to Joe Parlock, a contributor at Forbes, who cites an inside, anonymous source, only season one of The Walking Dead and Minecraft made money for Telltale, everything else, especially Batman, was a failure.
Apparently, only Minecraft: Story Mode and 7 Days to Die were making a profit. The rest was investor money and the netflix deal, which dried up.
According to the source, Batman t a n k e d and was one of the worst commercial failures for Telltale.
Basically, only the first season of The Walking Dead made money. Everything between that and Minecraft was a financial failure – Wolf, everything post-Season 1 of TWD, Borderlands, Game of Thrones. All failures.
As always, all reports should be taken with a grain of salt, after all, the only thing you can really ever take to the bank is official confirmation. However, it's obvious something had to go wrong, and that some games had to fail in order for Telltale to shutter like this.
And it's not very hard to consider that after The Walking Dead season one, none of Telltale's games — besides Minecraft: Story Mode — were successful for the studio. Not Wolf Among Us, not Game of Thrones, not even Batman, ever could generate the same type of critical and larger mainstream commercial buzz that Clementine and Lee did eight years ago.