Better off dead: Telltale Games is being revived but don’t get too excited

Telltale Games
Telltale Games /

Telltale Games’ assets have been purchased and the games will be sold under the Telltale name, but this is Telltale pretty much in name only.

It was quite a shocker last September when Telltale Games, a studio that made a number of critically acclaimed adventure game series such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and Tales From The Borderlands,  fired most of its employees with no notice and essentially shuttered. Most of its catalog of games based on licenses also disappeared from digital storefronts not long after.

It quickly came to light why this sudden turn of events happened, however. While the first season of Walking Dead was both a huge critical and commercial success for Telltale Games, the studio spread itself too thin trying to desperately recreate that success. It launched licensed property after licensed property and none replicated that same sales success. In fact, many sold extremely poorly. Employees were massively overworked, often putting in long hours over six-day workweeks. It all came to a head when some expected funding fell through and suddenly Telltale Games was no more with a lot of former employees quickly left stranded, including recent hires that had moved long distances to work there.

The Walking Dead franchise itself was saved by Skybound Entertainment, but that’s a company co-founded by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. Any other Telltale Games series seemed destined for limbo partly because of the licenses involved.

Less than a year after being shuttered however, LCG Entertainment, made up of several industry veterans, has bought the assets of Telltale Games. The company plans to make the catalog available while evaluating what to do with the future of the catalog, noting that some franchises might continue. The Wolf Among Us and Batman were specifically noted as series LCG Entertainment had acquired the back-catalog rights to along with any original Telltale Games properties but any others were not mentioned.

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One truly unfortunate side effect of the ever-increasing digital footprint of video games is that a lot of them may not be available forever due to things like licensing agreements or companies shutting down unexpectedly. So in that sense, it’s good that at least some of Telltale Games’ catalog will be available to purchase once again.

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However, part of the reason the company folded wasn’t just that it took on too much at once. The simple fact is people didn’t buy these games. Batman is one of the most surefire things to make something sell in the world, and the Telltale Games series based on it was an immense flop. Walking Dead is what the company was best known for, and that has had diminishing returns since the first season. That series now belongs to Skybound Entertainment.

So where even is the interest? I’d be very surprised if we see anything other than a few mobile efforts and maybe some Nintendo Switch ports come of this acquisition. This is not Telltale Games really becoming a thing again, just somebody bought off what pieces they could and are hoping to make some money off it with currently none of the previous staff involved. If you were excited about more Telltale-style adventure games, you might want to just look elsewhere.